On the seventh episode of the second season of Yellowjackets, Live’s massive “Lightnight Crashes” steals the show during a particularly perfect soundtrack sync. As the song cues up, Van says, “I love this song!” The episode also kicked off with Nirvana’s “Something In The Way.”
Ed Kowalczyk was sitting on the edge of his brother’s bed, strumming a guitar when he wrote what would become “Lightning Crashes.” Kowalczyk, 21 at the time, was living in his mother’s house in York, Pennsylvania, after his band Live had finished touring for their debut album, Mental Jewelry. In a 2004 interview included on the DVD for Awake: The Best Of Live, Kowalczyk said, “To this day I have no idea where that song came from – and I love that.”
Lyrically, “Lightning Crashes” is a meditation on the cycle of life, death, and reincarnation. Kowalczyk’s vision of the song was a hospital emergency room where people died and babies were born, a never-ending transference of life energy: “Lightning crashes an old mother dies/Her intentions fall to the floor/The angel closes her eyes/The confusion that was hers/Belongs now to the baby down the hall.”
Just a few years before, Kowalczyk discovered the writings of Indian spiritualist Jiddu Krishnamurti, whose philosophy of living life from a place of selflessness and humility influenced the singer’s songwriting process, as well as the band’s creative philosophy.
“Lightning Crashes” was recorded and produced with Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison as part of the sessions for Live’s sophomore effort, Throwing Copper, at the famed Pachyderm Studio in Minnesota, during the summer of 1993. Around this time, Barbara Lewis, a longtime friend of the band, was killed by a drunk driver while fleeing from the police after a robbery in York. The band dedicated the song to Lewis, who was only 19 when she died.