The band dedicated this to Barbara Lewis, one of their high school friends who was killed by a drunk driver around the time this song was written. Her brother in-law Cory told Songfacts the story:
The song's lyrics are mostly an analogy. Barb donated several organs, including her heart. She was close with Ed and the guys and died in a car collision with a fleeing armed robber. These lyrics are constantly misunderstood! Yes, Ed is speaking to the circle of life, but specifically to how Barb's life gave new life to many. The angel, the baby down the hall, the pale blue eyes (of Barb), the pain ("confusion")... the lyrics are wholly Ed's interpretation of his experience and perception of Barb's impact. Our family has become close with the most genuine and caring man who is still alive today (over 10 years later), who has Barb's heart beating in his chest! "Lightning Crashes" literally lives on.
At their concerts in the late 1990s, Live dedicated this to the victims of the tragedy at Columbine High School.
This was the biggest hit off the album and of Live's entire career. Throwing Copper was produced by Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison.
"I wrote 'Lightning Crashes' on an acoustic guitar in my brother's bedroom shortly before I had moved out of my parents' house and gotten my first place of my own," Live lead singer Ed Kowalczyk recalled to Spin magazine.
The music video, which depicts one woman dying while another gives birth, has caused some confusion among fans. Ed explains: "While the clip is shot in a home environment, I envisioned it taking place in a hospital, where all these simultaneous deaths and births are going on, one family mourning the loss of a woman while a screaming baby emerges from a young mother in another room. Nobody's dying in the act of childbirth, as some viewers think. What you're seeing is actually a happy ending based on a kind of transference of life."
Live opened their set at Woodstock '94 with this song, around six months before it was released as a single.
In 2019, Live lent their name to a craft beer called "Throwing Copper Ale," which is described as "a union of the caramel toffee-like sweetness of English barley and the bitterness of Nobel hops."