The Story Behind "I'd Rather Burn"

A couple years ago I worked at a coffee shop in Studio City and one night while I was grabbing a drip coffee for a customer, I didn't turn the machine off quickly enough and the boiling hot liquid started pouring over my hands. I froze. My manager, Brian, had to come over and shut it off for me. I was in shock. I'd burnt my skin but was totally fine. We started talking about how people respond to trauma in 3 ways: fight, flight or freeze. Turns out in that situation, I was a freezer!! That's so not cool. Haha! I started thinking about the idea of being stuck in a burning building and how I would choose to react. Would I freeze, stay there, accept my fate, afraid to get burnt? Or would I fight to get out of there maybe getting burnt along the way? "I'd Rather Burn" is about that idea - fighting and working towards what you want. Facing life head on, overcoming obstacles and living life to its' fullest. "When I got my back against the wall, never felt so alive. 'Cause you never know until you fall if you can fly..."

I also spent a lot of time reading poetry and essays about the subject. These two quotes inspired the song as well:

"the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..." - Jack Kerouac, On the Road

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt, Man in the Arena

caitlin linney