Burn My Candle

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"Burn My Candle"
Philips P.B. 558.jpg
Single by Shirley Bassey
A-side "Burn My Candle"
B-side "Stormy Weather"
Released February 1956
Recorded February 1956
Label Philips
Songwriter(s) Ross Parker
Producer(s) Johnny Franz

"Burn My Candle" was Shirley Bassey's first single. It was recorded in February 1956, when Bassey was nineteen years old, and released later that month on a 78 rpm shellac disc (Philips PB 558), with Stormy Weather on the B side. The record was produced by Johnny Franz, with Wally Stott and his Orchestra backing Bassey. The song was written for Bassey by Ross Parker (most notable for We'll Meet Again) at the behest of Bassey's then-manager, Michael Sullivan, who was seeking a song to make Bassey stand out.[1] The BBC banned the playing of the record, presumably due to its suggestive lyrics. In his 2010 biography of Bassey, John L. Williams writes that:

The song taken in isolation, is blatantly sexual but hardly convincing, as the double entendres of the title give way to single entendres in the bridge – 'There's "S" for Scotch, that's so direct / And for straight and simple sex / "I" for invitation to / A close relationship with you / "N" for nothing bad nor less / "S-I-N", that's sin, I guess.'...And that, right there, is the key to Shirley Bassey's early success: she was blatantly sexy and yet somehow, if not innocent, at least not too knowing.[2]

Despite being popular with audiences, the record failed to chart.[3] In a 2009 interview on the BBC series Imagine, Bassey stated:

It was banned by the BBC, and I didn't know why. And I said, 'Why are they banning it?' And my manager said, well—the lyrics may have something to do with it—and I said, 'Yah? But what?' I didn't even know what it was about. I'd never sung a risqué song and I think they purposefully didn't tell me so that I could give it that innocence.[4]

Its first appearance on an album was The Bewitching Miss Bassey in 1959. On subsequent appearances the song is sometimes listed as "Burn My Candle (At Both Ends)". Most recently, it appears on the CD compilation Burn My Candle - The Complete Early Years. Shirley Bassey re-recorded this song in 1966, but it remained unreleased until 1975 when it appeared on the 2-LP set The Shirley Bassey Collection II.


  1. ^ Dopson, Roger (2009). Liner notes in Burn My Candle - The Complete Early Years [CD booklet]. London: Future Noise Music Ltd.
  2. ^ Williams, John L. (2010). Miss Shirley Bassey. London: Quercus. pp. 121–122. ISBN 978-1-84724-974-6. 
  3. ^ "1956 Burn My Candle (At Both Ends)". shirleybassey.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  4. ^ Presenter & Series Editor: Alan Yentob (2009-11-24). "Dame Shirley Bassey - The Girl From Tiger Bay". Imagine. 11:27 minutes in. BBC. BBC One.