The Story Behind the Song . Lightning (Whalebone): 

"I met Lightning in The BrookdaIe Lodge in Felton, CA in 1993. I was playing other people’s songs for money in the bar and Lightning drank. A lot. All day. Felton was a tiny town in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A hippie enclave, frozen in the year of my birth: 1969. It was a VW Bus, Big Brother, Berkley, Acid Test, Patchouli oil, Grateful Dead, war protest, Moby Grape, Fillmore West, Free love, Marijuana, Earth Mother kind of place. Neil Young lived up the road. To the east, lay San Jose and Silicon Valley and the world of cutting edge technology. Some of the craziest and most far out ideas of the 60’s generation came to life over the hill but in Felton, that sort of thing seemed very far away.

I was 25 years old and my weird new friend, Lightning was probably in his late 50’s. Someone told me his real name was Charlie. Everyone just called him Lightning. There were rumors that he was a Senator’s son. That he came to California from the East Coast on a technology scholarship to avoid the Viet Nam draft. That he was a genius. That he was a scoundrel. That he was just a casualty of the counter culture wars, a drug burnout or maybe set for life with a trust fund. I heard it said that Lightning invented the internet and was secretly paid hush money by Apple computers not to reveal that he invented the Mac and the mouse. One late night during a hail storm, Lightning told me he was a dream catcher.

I left the Santa Cruz Mountains the summer after Jerry Garcia died. Moved to Florida. Forgot about Lightning all together. One night on the beach near Jacksonville I ran into one of the old Brookdale Lodge bartenders. We spent the night talking about Felton and California and eventually about Lightning. The rumor was that he had moved to Hawaii and cashed it all in and drowned. The details were sketchy but they really didn’t matter. For me, I couldn’t help but feel like some small but important part of a truly American time was gone and that time is a just a flash. That we live among ghosts. I wrote the song in 2012. I can’t remember why I started thinking about Lightning again. Probably was mixed up in my own self-analysis about where I had been and where I was going. What I, if anything, might leave behind.

The song was written very quickly and recorded in one, live take. It was an attempt to capture lightning in a bottle and keep it frozen in time."

Westerly, RI
Oct 4, 2013

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