Jump Into the Fire: Garth Brooks and the Radical Representation of Intellectual Disability of “Standing Outside the Fire”: Part One

Headshot of Garth Brooks in his early 30s. He is holding a guitar and smiling at the camera, wearing a striped Western shirt and white cowboy hat.
Garth Brooks in 1991.
Please note that I could not caption this video because I did not upload it. I did attempt to upload it on my own so that I could caption it. However, copyright claims would not allow me to post it publicly. The video does have a few sentences of spoken dialogue besides the song lyrics. Since I can’t caption the video, here are the snippets. In the beginning of the video in the car, Brandon’s mother say, “Are we clear yet?” Brandon responds, “Not yet, Ma.” Brandon’s mother then asks, “How about now?” Brandon again says, “Not yet.” His mother then says, “You can still see them?” Brandon says, “All clear!” Then just before she opens the car door, his mom says, “Come on; let’s have some fun!” After the one minute mark, Brandon’s parents are arguing. His dad says, “He’s just gonna embarrass himself!” Mom responds back emphatically, “No! You’re just afraid YOU’RE gonna be embarrassed!” Dad retorts, “No, I’m worried the kid’s gonna get hurt!” After Brandon falls on the track, Brandon’s father runs up yelling, “Get away from him! Don’t touch him! He’s not finished!” He then bends down next to Brandon and says, “Come on, Brandon, you gotta get up, son. Come on; get up. You can make it. Come on. You’re gonna finish.”

The Lyrics

We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk it the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always come with getting burned

But you got to be tough when consumed by desire
’Cause it’s not enough just to stand outside the fire

We call them strong
Those who can face this world alone
Who seem to get by on their own
Those who will never take the fall

We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
The slightest chance love might exist
And for that forsake it all

They’re so hell bent on giving, walking a wire
Convinced it’s not living if you stand outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

There’s this love that is burning
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly higher and higher
I can’t abide standing outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

“In a conversation [with Yates] I was describing something that I thought was really close, but for me it stood just outside the fire. There was that brilliant moment of silence when we just looked at each other and smiled. Within an hour and a half, this song was written. This is another song of inspiration and Jenny is that way when it comes to inspiration.”

Brooks circa 1994/1995 on a New Zealand talk show. This video also contains a couple acoustic solo performances of the songs “Unanswered Prayers” and “The River” that highlight Brooks’ underrated guitar picking.

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