Waterfalls
by TLC

Album: CrazySexyCool (1994)
Charted: 4 1
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Chasing Waterfalls" is TLC's way of expressing how people chase intangible dreams with no thought of the consequences. The first verse is talking about an inner city mother-and-son relationship. He is chasing "waterfalls" (money and respect by dealing drugs), but his mother knows this cannot end well. The second verse deals with a man's relationship with a woman. His "waterfall" is casual sex - he has a "natural obsession for temptation." This could mean he is cheating on someone or the woman he is seeing is cheating on someone. Either way, he contracts HIV and dies ("three letters took him to his final resting place"). TLC were big on AIDS awareness - Left Eye would often wear condoms attached to her clothes and in her glasses to promote safe sex.
  • Cee-Lo Green sang backup on this. He's well-known as a songwriter and producer, and as a member of Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley. Cee-Lo recalled to The Guardian newspaper March 22, 2008: "I was working at the same studio and of course I know the girls too, because we were on the same label, so they just asked me. I didn't realize at the time what a big song it was going to be."
  • The Atlanta production team Organized Noize, who produced the track, wrote this song with Marqueze Etheridge, and TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes came up with the rap. Lopes was dealing with some personal problems at the time, which are expressed in her rap. She had a very turbulent relationship with the football player Andre Rison, and on June 9, 1994 she burned his new shoes in his bathtub, which set fire to his entire $2 million mansion. She pled guilty to arson, but did reconcile with Rison. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeana - Sterling Heights, MI
  • TLC was signed to LaFace Records, which as part of Arista was headed by the renowned hit-picker Clive Davis. But according to T-Boz, he didn't like this song. It took a push from their mentor at the label, L.A. Reid, to get promotion for the song and a budget for the video.

    T-Boz recalled to Q magazine how they pushed Davis to release the single. "We wrote a big poster with a marker – 'Please believe in us' - and delivered it to his office." She paused for dramatic effect. "Biggest song to date."
  • The video won the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year in 1995, beating out "Buddy Holly" by Weezer and "Basket Case" by Green Day. The "Waterfalls" clip had lots of fancy computer-generated effects, including plenty of water, which was notoriously difficult to render. It was directed by F. Gary Gray, whose first feature film, Friday, was released the following year. He went on to direct Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious. The video also took the VMAs for Viewer's Choice, Best Group Video and Best R&B Video.
  • The special effects in the video were created by the visual design company Homer & Associates, which used motion capture technology to generate the images. The company used the same technique in their previous work on the Peter Gabriel video for "Steam" and in the movie The Lawnmower Man.
  • The rap lyrics Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes performed on this song were engraved in her casket. Lopes died in a car accident in Honduras in 2002.
  • The three-piece British girl group Stooshe released a cover of this song for their third single from their self-titled debut album in 2012. "We are huge fans and have met T-Boz, who told us she loved our version," Courtney Rumbold of the trio told The Sun. "It's meeting heroes like that that spurs us on, and we have the most loyal of fans."

    Their version peaked at #21 on the UK singles chart. Stooshe managed to secure cameos from TLC's T-Boz and Chilli for their accompanying music video.
  • T-Boz and Chilli re-recorded the song with Japanese popstar Namie Amuro to mark their 20th anniversary. The new version of the track was dedicated to their fans in Japan and finds Namie rapping Left Eye's verse almost at a whisper.
  • This makes the "songs discussed in movies" list thanks to its use in the 2010 film The Other Guys, where Michael Keaton's character keeps unknowingly quoting TLC songs, starting with this one.
  • Meshell Ndegeocello covered this song in 2018, releasing a video for it shot in Iceland and directed by Damani Baker.
  • This was used in the movies Captain Marvel (2019), We're the Millers (2013) and Couples Retreat (2009).
  • If you're wondering what it sounds like when a guy sings this song, check out the cover by Death Cab For Cutie, who released it in 2020 on The Georgia EP, a benefit for Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight Action organization. All the covers on the EP are songs by artists from Georgia, Abrams' state.
  • Chilli told Billboard TLC had the vision for the video, then F. Gary Gray brought it to life. She said she imagined the trio in water images performing like in the James Cameron movie The Abyss. Tionne came up with the storylines and Lisa pictured the three girls "traveling through space passing planets before we got to earth." Gary Gary then changed Lisa's idea to TLC coming straight from the sky.
  • T-Boz admitted that filming the scenes of TLC performing the song while standing on top of an ocean were very scary. They were standing on a platform that wasn't stable and she feared she was going to fall in. "That's why my feet are planted wide and still," she said. "You never see my feet move ever. You couldn't move to the front or back, you could only go side to side."

Comments: 22

  • Mark from New YorkIt's fascinating how fans know the meaning of the song better than the actual songwriter.
  • Sw from United StatesThe song is about shooting up drugs, the AIDS epidemic, and fallen youth with no education left to the streets. This song was meant to help save lives and preach to the people subtlety that this is a problem we need to pay attention to, and foster, in order to make it better.
  • Liz from Atlanta I think the waterfall metaphor is relative to hype and excitement folks were having rushing and jumping in and out of bed with folks ,having unprotected sex with people they barely knew even though AIDS was ravaging communities .compared to taking it slow and getting to know someone b4 you share physical intimacy. Waterfall(fast),lakes(slow) The words AIDS are actually IN THE VIDEO
  • J-roy from Houston Really, no one here hears what I hear? Waterfall is a metaphor for a man ejaculating. Rivers and lakes is a metaphor for a women’s labia and vagina. Seriously, no one else gets this?
  • Paula from North CarolinaLyrics were used in Season 2 of Umbrella Academy. (Spoiler! Klaus goes around sagely telling people "Don't go chasing waterfalls, stick to the rivers and lakes that you're used to.")
  • Scoboh from York, PaWaterfalls is a metaphor for the drama (waterfalls are very dramatic and amazing) you feel with some relationships... you love it now but stick to the rivers and the lakes that you are used to... Rivers and lakes tend to be less dramatic, and its what the person they are speaking to is "used to" - Its a great song, and I always enjoy hearing it.
  • Jake from WisconsinSusan, the point is that the metaphor that they made up doesn't make any sense. They could have said don't go chasing frying pans, it would have made the same amount of sense.
  • Susan from Tucson Arizonai am commenting on the person who's commented from New York. Clemence if you look up the meaning of this song Waterfalls you can read all about this song. Your comment is sad cause after reading the meaning of this song you see that it make total sense about the hole song.
  • Clemence from New York"Chasing waterfalls" doesn't make any sense. Waterfalls are stationary. You can't chase something that isn't moving. Yes, the water is moving - falling over the waterfall, but the falls themselves stay in the same place. I never understood this metaphor.
  • Miranda from Havana, ArWaterfall has been my favorite song since I can remember! I just found out the meaning of it and i love it! I listened to this song everyday when i was a kid!
  • Rahul from Chennai, Indiatook some time to appreciate it but after tat nothin cud stop me frm likin it though im a rock fanatic....
  • Jeana from Sterling Heights, Mii was like 5 years old when this song came out and it's always been one of my all time favorite songs

    i think it was my next door neighbor that got me into this song
  • Mary from Phoenix, AzI have always LOVED this song, but the first few times I heard it, I thought they were saying "Go, go, Jason Waterfalls".
  • Joe from Chicago, IlWeird Al parodied this as Phony Calls. Also, this was the second biggest hit of '95 behind Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise.
  • Mia from Akron, OhThis song is great it means alot to me. I think that if people take the time to listen to it they will love it, and we would not have so many problems in the world today
  • Marcelona from Chicago, IlI have to think that TLC must have heard the song "Waterfalls" by Paul McCartney. The lyrics and intent/message of the song are way too close to be random:

    "Don't Go Jumping Waterfalls
    Please Keep To The Lake
    People Who Jump Waterfalls
    Sometimes Cam Make Mistakes"
  • Kaylie from San Antonio, Txthis song teaches people a very good lesson. every1 should listen 2 it.
  • Christina from Chandler, Azi think it's interesting that Paul McCartney had a song called "Waterfalls" with the first line "Don't go chasing Polar Bears". I wonder if that song had any influence on TLC's Waterfalls.
  • Monika from Birmingham, AlWaterfalls is one those song everyoone should hear once
  • Christopher from Farmington, Nmthis song has a message along with the song unpretty. It is a really good song also.
  • Janetta from Davenport, Iathis song is freakin awsome
  • Carl from San Francisco, CaSong was produced by Sleepy Brown who is most known for his collaborations with Outkast.
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