The Lightning I, II

Album: We (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Régine Chassagne wrote this song in El Paso, Texas, in the shadow of the Mexican border wall. The lyrics combine hope and despair.

    Hope, inspired by the optimism Butler and Chassagne see in their child living in a paradise.

    Despair, as they saw immigrants, who'd traveled so far from their homeland for a chance at freedom only to be met with whips and dogs and officers on horseback.

    The sight of these tired and frightened people amassed on the US border inspired the emotion in Butler's vocal.
  • A day, a week, a month, a year
    A day, a week, a month, a year
    Every second brings me here


    The lyric, according to Butler, "is a reminder for all of us with the realization that we can't win them all, even when we give it all."
  • Win Butler and Régine Chassagne co-produced the song with long-term Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich.
  • Arcade Fire released the two-part single on March 17, 2022. It was their first new material since the band's 2017 Everything Now album.
  • It's not up to you
    Some you win, some you lose
    When the lightning comes


    Arcade Fire's fellow Montreal native Emily Kai Bock directed the visual. "Emily Kai Bock expresses the feeling of the last two years: trying to make grand plans only to have the storms of life force you to improvise," said Butler. "Sometimes bright flashes of Lightning to guide our way, light up the sky, and burn it all down so we can start again."
  • Arcade Fire recorded "The Lightning I, II" for We. Laid down in New Orleans, El Paso, and Mount Desert Island during the COVID-19 pandemic, the album explores themes of being pulled away from loved ones by outside forces, and the need to overcome those forces. It comprises two parts: Side 'I' channels the fear and loneliness of isolation and Side 'WE' expresses the joy and power of reconnection."

    "The Lightning I, II" is the first track on Side WE.

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