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The song was released as a single on Christmas day 1965, and on February 19, 1966, it hit the top of the pop charts. Speaking about the song in the September 16, 2005 issue of Goldmine magazine, Lou Christie said: "And they didn't even like it! (Label head) Lenny Shear threw it in the wastebasket and said it was a piece of crap! So we put up our own money to get it played around the country, and it started taking off once it got played. Three months later, Lenny was taking a picture with me for Billboard magazine, handing me a gold record. I loved that."
The song was co-written by Christie and Twyla Herbert, who was at least 20 years older than Christie and came from a classical music background. In the same Goldmine interview, Christie said: "I never worked with anyone else who was that talented, that original, that exciting. She was just bizarre, and I was twice as bizarre as her."
Christie is sending mixed messages in this song: First, he's admitting he can't settle down to just one girl, but in the second verse he wants his girl to be trustworthy, true and pure. He bluntly admits he's willing to settle down to her one day, but for now if somebody's looking and reading his mind he's going for it. Can the character in this song ever be true to one girl? Doubtful. Christie and his songwriting partner Twyla Herbert wrote several stories based on pre-marital sex. Their love went much too far in their car in "Rhapsody In The Rain
." "They" had to run away and get married in the song "Baby, We Got To Run Away." "She" gave it to him once and wouldn't give it to him again in the song "Trapeze." "If My Car Could only Talk" and "Watch Your Heart After Dark" are other songs of this nature. (thanks, Dennis - Ambridge, PA)
Christie's distinctive falsetto in the hook chorus and the way the song builds set it apart from other songs on the radio and helped make it a hit.
Ralph Casale, who was one of the top New York session musicians in the '60s, played guitar on this song. When we interviewed Ralph
, he told us how he came up with the solo. Said Casale: "I was asked by producer/arranger Charlie Calello to play the six string bass guitar which sometimes doubles the same line the bass plays. When the track was being played back without vocals I started jokingly improvising a solo on the bass guitar with a fuzz box. I didn't know what the song was about but Charlie obviously did. He stopped the playback and said 'I love it!' I laughed, and asked if he was joking. He excitedly replied, 'I'll tell you where to play it!' After recording it and listening to the entire song I realized why he included my solo. It actually sounded like thunder and fit in nicely with the entire recording. That's how the solo in Lightnin' Strikes was born!"
Other hits for Lou Christie, who is a 1961 graduate of Moon High School, Moon Township, Pennsylvania, included "The Gypsy Cried" (1962), "Two Faces Have I" (1963), "Rhapsody in The Rain" (1966), which reached a #16 chart position, and "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" (1969).
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