“Saw Lightning” by Beck

In the song “Saw Lightning”, Beck recalls a phenomenon he experienced which led to the destruction of things around him.

He uses various elements in the weather to tell his version of the story. It appears as if there was a thunderstorm, which caused some mountains, temples and prison walls to fall. The place he describes was also flooded, while children run because there was no shelter.

As literal as the terms he uses seem, there could be a symbolic implication to the song. Seeing lightning could mean experiencing something out of this world. The mountains, temples and prison walls could signify the obstacles that kept him from reaching that point. The rain and floods may have been meant to wash those hindrances away, and free him like a child running from danger. At the same time, not having shelter is a sign that he has been forced out of his comfort zone as a result of this illumination.

The chorus gives a clearer picture of the message he is trying to get across. During a dark point, through the hardest wind and rain, he saw lightning and it struck him to the ground when he tried to hold his head up. This is probably because what he discovers in the lightning is much higher than he anticipated.

The lines in the bridge of the song reveal how Beck asks the Lord to lead him into the light. This sounds as though he was actually on a quest to find something beyond himself, and his wish has been granted. The song ends by Beck emphasizing that he saw lightning.

Ultimately, Beck’s “Saw Lightning” is about a certain kind of exposure which has not only been personally life threatening but also costly to the people around him.

"Saw Lightning" lyrics

What Beck has said about “Saw Lightning”

During a conversation with Beats 1‘s Zane Lowe, Beck referred to the song as one he can liken to looking at the heavens with the aim of finding a higher power to deal with.

Beck talks about the song "Saw Lightning"

Facts about “Saw Lightning”

  • Beck and prominent hip-hop musician Pharrell Williams collaborated on both the writing and production of “Saw Lighting”. In fact this song is the first single from an album they worked on together throughout, Beck’s “Hyperspace”. After weeks of teasing his fans and followers of the release of a new song, he finally dropped “Saw Lightning” on 15th April 2019.
  • Speaking on the inspiration for the song, Beck said it’s the kind that teaches us to look up to Heavens for something higher to deal with. And on working with Pharrell, Beck expressed his satisfaction and love for the work they produced together.
  • Upon its release, the song was used for the promotion of Powerbeats Pro by Dr. Dre.
  • Pharrell plays keyboard and drums on this songs, as well as contributes additional vocals.
  • “Saw Lightning” appeared on four Billboard charts, most impressively topping the Adult Alternative Songs listing.

Prior to this collabo, had Beck ever worked with Pharrell?

No. “Saw Lightning” marked Beck’s first collaboration with Pharrell.

Summary

Saw Lightning narrates an encounter with natural elements as well as a supernatural being.

1 Response

  1. SMF says:

    The narrator of “Saw Lightning” recalls a remarkable encounter he had. His use of the word ‘lightning’ could possibly allude to seeing God, since people often claim that he appeared to them in a flash of lightning. Beck employs a lot of natural imagery and biblical elements to describe this experience which took place on a rainy day. Like he recounts in the first verse, the events that took place prior to him seeing this lightning are spoken of in scripture. Mountains falling, is probably a reference to how God spoke to the Israelites during Moses’ era. “Floods coming” could represent the destruction of the world during Noah’s days. And his mention of the ‘sycamore tree’ references how Zacchaeus had to climb such to see Jesus.

    While the writer emphasizes on his vision, the bridge reveals the supposed purpose for this experience which is that the Lord would take him and lead him into this light. In other words, to either initiate a transformation or make him aware of certain hidden truths.

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