Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” Lyrics Meaning
“Cranes in the Sky” is from the post-9/11 aughts, an era in which it can perhaps be said that American pop music was more reflective than it has been since. And what the somewhat-confusing title actually points to is those large construction cranes which in some localities may highlight a skyline.
The way Solange interpreted those eyesores, most simply put, is as being symbolic of the nation’s preoccupation with material development, though at the cost of dealing with more-important, pressing matters.
So what all of that manifests itself as lyrically is sort of a mini-tirade on the part of the vocalist, one that sorta feels as if it were inspired by the Book of Ecclesiastes. That is to say that feeling unfulfilled, Solange has tried everything under the sun in the name of making herself happy. She has resorted to intoxicants, dancing, beautifying herself, shopping, working, sex and just about anything else she could think of in the name of edifying her life. But the thesis sentiment being put forth is that despite all of that, said goal has not been reached – or something like that.
Indeed all of that is what’s being relayed via the verses, which themselves are easily understandable. But going back to the titular metaphor, well, the chorus is not as easy to relate to said verses.
But what it appears Solange is doing is likening how she feels when she sees the aforementioned “cranes in the sky” to feeling crappy in general. However, what the vocalist has learned through her attempts to stave off depression – or whatever it is she is suffering from – is that affecting true internal, personal change is more difficult than it may seem.
Long Story Short
The lyrics of “Cranes in the Sky” center on Solange coming to the conclusion that it is a futile attempt trying to solve internal matters through external actions.
When was “Cranes in the Sky” released?
“Cranes in the Sky” came out on October 5 of 2016 as the only single from Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” album.
Did Solange write “Cranes in the Sky”?
Yes, she did. The song was composed by the singer herself. In addition to writing, Solange also co-produced the track. She however, shares the production credits with renowned American record producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Raphael Saadiq.
According to Solange, she wrote the song roughly eight years before its release. She revealed that during the writing process of the song, she was going through a very difficult chapter in her life. This was shortly after she and her husband (whom she had a son with) got divorced. Being a young, divorced mother, life was really challenging for her around that time.
This song received several accolades, including an award for “Best R&B Performance” at the Grammy Awards in 2017. This became the singer’s first ever nomination and win at the Grammys.
On the list, “100 Best Pop Songs of 2016” by Billboard, the song was placed at No. 12.
According to Pitchfork, “Cranes in the Sky” was 2016’s 3rd best song.
It was placed at the No. 7 spot on the list, “50 Best Songs of 2016” by Rolling Stone.
“Cranes in the Sky” also appeared on Rolling Stone‘s list of the greatest songs of the 21st Century.
“Cranes in the Sky” was No. 74 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It however, put up a better performance in the Britain where it peaked at No. 29 on the UK singles chart.
Since the song’s official release, a number of remakes, recorded by various acts have been released commercially. Notable among them are interpretations by these musical artists:
- Dave Cirino (2016)
- Justice Der (2018)
- Ashley Henry (2019)
Notable Live Performances
American late-night live TV comedy and variety show, Saturday Night Live (“SNL”) on 6th November, 2016.
KCRW’s World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl 2017 that started on 18th June til 24th September.
Detroit’s music festival, Mo Pop Festival in July 2017. Solange performed “Rise”, “Weary” and “Cranes In The Sky” during her stage time.
Austin City Limits Music Festival in October 2017.
22nd October, 2017 during her Orion’s Rise Tour in Berkeley, Ca.
Day for Night Festival in Houston, Texas in December 2017. Nine Inch Nails and Thom Yorke were the headliners.
Vivid LIVE, Sydney Opera House, June 2018.
At the Bannaroo Music & Arts Festival in June 2019. The festival’s lineup included the likes of Jack Harlow, Childish Gambino, and Post Malone.
Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” Album
“A Seat at the Table” was released on the 30th of September, 2016 as Solange’s 3rd studio album.
Solange teamed up with no less than a dozen record producers to produce the album.
“A Seat at the Table” was released on the singer’s own record label, Saint Records alongside Columbia Records.
The album’s commercial success earned it features on several lists of top albums by music publications. It was placed at No. 312 on Rolling Stone’s 2020 list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. The aforementioned magazine also placed it at No. 11 on their list of “50 Best Albums of 2016”.
“A Seat at the Table” landed on the Billboard 200 at No. 1, becoming Solange’s first album to chart at the apex of that chart. In the UK, it peaked at a spot short of the top of the OCC there.
The RIAA of the US certified the album gold while their British counterparts, the BPI gave it a silver certification. In Canada, Music Canada certified it gold.