Who Wrote “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” from the ’80s Cult Classic Film?

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky / I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher / Gonna be a man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels / Take me where my future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire, plays the chorus to “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion).” Sung by heavyweight vocalist John Parr, the tune from the iconic film St. Elmo’s Fire is just as much a cult classic as the movie itself.

The song has power, alive with determined drum hits and jubilant horn blasts. From its power chords to its aggressive keys, the tune is ’80s to the core. Often piped in through grocery store speakers, the song makes you feel infinite–like you can conquer the world and get your shopping done.

Videos by American Songwriter

Who Wrote It?

The lyrics to “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” were penned by the song’s singer, British musician John Parr, with Canadian composer David Foster. Together, they were contracted to write the tune specifically for the 1985 film St. Elmo’s Fire. However, the song goes much deeper than merely soundtracking seven post-grad buddies trying to find their way in the world.

Foster and Parr were inspired by Canadian Paralympic track and field athlete Rick Hansen. At the time the song was being written, Hansen had embarked on his Man in Motion World Tour, a 26-month trek across 4 continents in his wheelchair. The songwriters gave the tune powerful, but ambiguous lyrics to honor the national hero while also fitting the themes of the film.

“I wrote the lyric when we were working on the movie,” Parr explained in a conversation with Songfacts. “David showed me a video of Rick Hansen and I was inspired to write the story of his planned epic journey to circumnavigate the globe in his wheelchair.

“I wrote the lyric ambiguously, so the film company would think ‘all I needs these pair of wheels’ referred to Demi Moore’s jeep when actually I am referring to Rick’s wheelchair, or for once in his life a man has his time actually refers to when Rick would end his journey wheeling back into Vancouver with a million people lining the streets–not when Emilio Estevez finally kisses Andie MacDowell.”

Parr hadn’t seen the film before crafting the song with Foster, and at first, he did not intend to insert the movie’s awkward-fitting title into the song. “I never thought about fitting ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ into the song,” he said. “It just came. That whole song was a gift.”

Give the iconic movie theme a listen below.

(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

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