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Lightning Crashes by Live is one of the most powerful and best-recognized songs in America today but what does it mean and what is the song’s intent?
We went to find out and we were fascinated by what we learned and we think that you will be too.
Firstly, the band have been pretty direct about the fact that this song was never meant to be a single.
In fact, the record company hated the idea. They said that the song was too long to be a hit and they weren’t sure about the message resonating with people either.
Live say that this is pretty funny given that Lightning Crashes has been one of their biggest hits of all time and it was picked up as a single after the band played Lightning Crashes at Woodstock and the crowd couldn’t get enough of it.
Give it a listen here.
A new mother cries
This moment she’s been waiting for
The angel opens her eyes
Pale blue colored iris, presents the circle
And puts the glory out to hide, hide.
Oh, now feel it comin’ back again
Like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from the center of the Earth again
I can feel it
I can feel it.”
The song is about life and death. It beings with an old mother dying as a screaming baby emerges and it looks at how energy is transferred between the newborn baby, its’ young mother and the dead mother.
The band had been surrounded by death in their own lives at the time and they wanted to try and make sense of their family mourning these losses.
As they recorded, the song, their friend Barbara Lewis was mown down by a drunk driver who had committed robbery and was fleeing the police.
The song was dedicated to her. She was just 19 years old when she passed away.
Live wanted a video in a hospital with child birth and all these simultaneous deaths taking place at the same time but in the end, the viewer would see that nobody’s dying in the clip but rather one soul is passing to another body as it is brought into the world.
As each person dies, another comes to life. It’s a representation of the circle of life.
However, the actual video was finally shot in a home environment and is not quite the music video that the band had envisioned.
Most importantly, Lightning Crashes is the song that has become most associated with the Oklahoma City Bombing of April 19, 1985.
A local DJ remixed the single and overdubbed sirens, a fire engine, and commentary from Bill Clinton, the then President, and Tom Brokaw and it caught the public’s imagination.
Obviously, this had never been intended in the singer’s songwriting process but the band’s creative philosophy welcomed this transformation of their music and are happy that it has become the de facto song for the event because it appears to have given their song new life and brought comfort to many people.
One thing that’s worth noting is that when this track is played in the live environment, there’s never a dry-eye in the house.
The old mother dies and the young mother cries but there’s a happy ending for the song and for every person dying according to the lyrics too.
That makes this song one of the most uplifting and emotional records in modern America.