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Meaning of the song ‘Lightning Crashes’ by ‘Live’

Released: 1994

“Lightning Crashes” by Live presents a poignant exploration of the cyclical nature of life and death, invoking powerful imagery to symbolize the continuity of existence. This track off their iconic 1994 album “Throwing Copper” masterfully encapsulates the bittersweet reality of mortality and the persistence of life.

The opening lyrics, “Lightning crashes, a new mother cries / Her placenta falls to the floor,” introduce us to the moment of birth – an apex of dramatic tension, euphoria and gut-wrenching fear. The term “placenta falls to the floor,” while seemingly raw and medical, symbolizes the severance of the physical connection between mother and child, which sets the stage for a metaphorical exploration of life’s impermanence.

The second verse starkly contrasts the first: “Lightning crashes, an old mother dies / Her intentions fall to the floor.” Here, the band circles back, aligning the force of the lightning with life’s transitional points – birth and death. Just as the placenta falls in the birth verse, the old mother’s intentions, her plans, her dreams fall as she transitions from life.

“The angel opens her eyes, the confusion sets in, before the doctor can even close the door” communicates the immediacy and disorientation of the newborn thrust into existence, with the angel symbolizing the newborn’s innocence. We see contrasting imagery reprised when “The angel closes her eyes, the confusion that was hers, belongs now to the baby down the hall.” Here, the angel becomes a metaphor for the dying mother whose life ends as a new one begins, reinforcing the cyclical theme.

Throughout, the chorus serves as the emotional crux of the song, capturing the visceral, elemental energy of these transformative moments. The repetition of “I can feel it coming back again like a rolling thunder chasing the wind, forces pulling from the center of the Earth again” evokes the cyclical, powerful, and unstoppable forces of nature – birth, death, and regeneration – events as elemental and inescapable as a storm.

In the final verse, “Pale blue colored iris presents the circle and puts the glory out to hide, hide” the cycle completes itself. The “pale blue colored iris” is a reference to the newborn baby’s eyes, serving as a metaphor for the cyclicality of life. The circle symbolizes the never-ending cycle of life and death, and the glory that is put out to hide could depict the painful but natural process of aging and eventual death.

Ultimately, “Lightning Crashes” is a compelling ode to the cycle of life — the joy of birth, the sorrow of death, and the inherent beauty in the continuity of existence, powerfully encapsulated by the metaphor of a storm.

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