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Lightnin' Strikes

by

Lou Christie



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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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Comments (21):

On February 13th 1966, "Lightin' Strikes" by Lou Christie peaked at #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on December 19th, 1965 at position #93 and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 6 of those 15 weeks it was on the Top 10(...
The record that was at #2 was "These Boots Are Made For Walking" by Nancy Sinatra; it had jumped up from position #15, so it was no big surprise that the following week it would move into the top spot...
* Note: The Billboard charts are presented as 'for the week ending'; which means the weekly rankings start on a Sunday and end on Saturday...
So "Lightin' Strikes" began its week at #1 on Feb. 13th, 1966 and ended on Feb. 19th, 1966.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
"Hit #1 on February 19,1966", Lou Christie's birthday!!
- Steve, Whittier, CA
Great pop tune from the 60's with some adult themes-lust, temptation and subsequent guilt. I would love to see this covered with a couple hot female singers doing the backup vocals. ["Baby ahh-ooo"] Love the guitar solo and the saxophone. Excellent arrangement.
- DT, Gulf Breeze, FL
It's not about unwanted sexual advances for Pete's sake. It's a bout a man who has a Girlfriend, but doesn't want to settle down and wants to remain footloose and fancy free as he can't resist the females. Those who misinterpret it as something deeper obviously haven't listened to the song fully.
- Amanda, Melbourne, Australia
How come this lustful song had no trouble with the censors, but the less overt followup "Rhapsody in the Rain" was pulled in many markets? Anyway, it's an exciting production, full of tempo changes, volume aberrations, lush backgrounds, then quiet backgrounds--perfectly conveying the conflicted passions of the lead singer.
- Matthew, Toronto, ON
I loved this song when I would hear it on the radio, even as a little kid! I think it was the harmonies and backup singers and it was on ALL the time. I didn't really get the lyrics back then!
- Marlene, Montreal, QC
great song....Howard...I used to listen to WABC and keep track of the top 100 songs of the year from late 60's to the mid 70's
- Rick, Belfast, ME
In 1969 when he released "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" the back-up singers were Ellie Greenwich & Linda Scott... {The record peaked at No. 10}
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
I agree with all the comments below! I made a video of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen ["Saved by the Bell" and later "90210"] set to this song last night.
- Steve, Whittier, CA
I read somewhere that Lou sang ALL the voices on this song.Don't know if it's true,but I love the harmony parts.Nice falsetto too.Barry Gibb would have been proud!
- dane, lima,ohio, FL
The Angels did NOT do the backup singing on "Lightnin' Strikes" or any of Lou's MGM hits. The backup singers were Denise Ferri, Bernadette Carroll and Peggy Santiglia. For further information, please visit http://www.jerseygirlssing.com
- Ronnie, Morrisville, PA
If memory serves, the backing singers on this song were none other than the Angels of "My Boyfriend's Back" fame. I also love the changing moods and rhythms of this song, one of the first rock/pop singles to do just that.
- ted, phoenix, AZ
i LOVED this song when i was a kid, then as a teen, suddenly understood what it meant, and hated it, then i got older (and lightened up) and love it again!!
- Lisa, Eveleth, MN
saw Mr. Christie in concert in the mid 80's and I just cannot forget his twenty minute rendition of '..lightning striking again and again and again....' reminds me of the old 45's and LP's that kept skipping
- roman, barrie, ON
I have nothing profound to say except I have always loved this piece of art.
- Gary Phelps, Homewood, IL
As soon as I hear this song it puts me back in 149th St. & Courtland Ave. in the Bronx; I was 10.
- Jimmy T, NYC, OR
Is he wacko or what? Let's see -- he's going to fool around with any and every woman who'll fool around with him -- but he wants his girlfriend to wait and forgive and forget, because eventually, he'll get around to her and marry her. Someone who acts like that is not worth waiting for.
- John, Kansas City, MO
I loved this song since it was new though I never exactly knew all the lyrics till lately. The sound of the musical arrangement and the changing mood of the song as well as the words I could understand had always attracted me. The song was used in an important scene in one of my favorite movies in the early '1980s. Since that time and since I now know all the lyrics, it will definetely remain one of my most favorite songs of its time. Oh, the memories of the last 40 years! John Martin, 46, TX, USA
- john, Fort Worth, TX
Believe the backup singers are representing the woman to whom the singer wants to commit. He wants to become someone who can be happy in a monogamous relationship. But his tone changes when presented with opportunities to get some on the side, and in his mind he hears his main squeeze urging him to stop.
- Ted, Long Branch, NJ
The backup singers were singing "Stop"! and many people suggested it was an unwanted sexual advance hence the lines:

When I see lips begging to be kissed(Stop!)
I can't stop(Stop!) No I can't stop myself(Stop!Stop!)
- Matthew, Dalton, PA
This was Lou Christie's biggest hit and a song that brings back memories of growing up in New Jersey listening to WABC. Unfortunately, I could never understand what the backup singers were singing.
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
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