Saw Lightning
By: Beck Hansen, Pharrell Williams

Written by: Beck Hansen, Pharrell Williams

Versions:
  1. Saw Lightning
    Available on Hyperspace and 1 other release.
    Credits
    Pharrell Williams: Drums, keyboards, Producer, Vocals (Mumbles)
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic Slide), Harmonica, Piano, Producer, Vocals
    Jaycen Joshua: Mix
  2. Saw Lightning (Freestyle) (2:15)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Foot Stomp, Harmonica, Vocals
 
Lyrics:
Saw Lightning [Version (a)]:

There was a day... saw lightning
There was a day... saw lightning
I saw lightning
Hey hey hey saw lightning
Ho ho ho saw lightning
He he he saw lightning
Ha ha ha

Saw wind and rains
Saw mountains fall
Saw temples burn
And prison walls
Saw floods comin'
Saw children run
Got no more shelter
No more sun

Then it came to me in a flash of light
By the sycamore tree in the dead of night
In the bottom barrel on the longest day
In the hardest winter, in the falling rain
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Hold my head up
And it struck me down
Down to the ground
It struck me down
Struck me down
Struck me down to the ground

There was a day... saw lightning
There was a day... saw lightning
Hey hey hey saw lightning
Ho ho ho saw lightning
He he he saw lightning
Ha ha ha


When they're named, I wonder where it go
Hold the sea, where it's sunny, where I grow
One more day then daily I know
High, need trees when it's sunny and go
More than fee, by money, I know
Pull me in, gotta start down low
Don't gotta sing, with weather I go
Partner we go


Then it came to me in a flash of light
By the sycamore tree in the dead of night
In the bottom barrel on the longest day
In the hardest winter, in the falling rain
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Hold my head up
And it struck me down
Down to the ground
Struck me down
Struck me down
Struck me down to the ground

Hey hey hey saw lightning
Ho ho ho saw lightning
He he he saw lightning
Ha ha ha saw lightning
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Saw lightning

Lord won't you take me and lead me in the light?
Lord won't you take me and lead me to the light?
Lord come and take me and lead me in the light
Lord come and take me and lead me in the light

Then it came to me in a flash of light
By the sycamore tree in the dead of night
In the bottom barrel on the longest day
In the hardest winter, in the falling rain
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Hold my head up
And it struck me down
Down to the ground
Struck me down
Struck me down
Struck me down to the ground

Hey hey hey saw lightning
I saw lightning
I saw lightning
I saw lightning
Saw Lightning (Freestyle) [Version (b)]:

There was a day I saw lightning
There was a day I saw lightning
I said hey hey hey
I said ho ho ho
I said ha ha ha
I said he he he

Saw wind and rain
Saw mountains fall
Saw temples burn
And prison walls
Saw floods comin'
And children run
I saw no more shelter
No more sun

Then it came to me in a flash of light
Sycamore tree in the dead of night
Bottom bell and the longest day
And the hardest winter and the longest rain
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Saw lightning
Saw lightning

And I held my head up
But it struck me down
Said it struck me down
It struck me down
Struck me down
Struck me down to the ground

Said Lord won't you take me and lead me to the light?
Lord won't you take me and lead me to the light?

There was a day
I saw lightning
 
The Song:

Beck released "Saw Lightning" in April 2019, as the first single from his 2019 album Hyperspace.

The song was begun in 2013 when Beck first started working with Pharrell Williams, and it appears to have some relations to a song called "Free Me" that Beck played live in 2013 a couple of times. (Also, at the same shows as "Free Me," Beck debuted "Everlasting Nothing").

Then in 2018/2019, after Colors tour ended, Beck went back in and finished off the sessions with him (not just this song, but numerous tracks). They are the only two musicians credited on this song (so far; some instruments aren't credited, like the groovy bass). Beck explained that the song was the truest collaboration with Pharrell on the album; they built it "from the ground up." Beck played some slide guitar, Pharrell added a beat, then Beck put on some piano, etc.

Beck said the album was full of songs about how people escape, to avoid reality, and that "Saw Lightning" was about "looking for the heavens to try to deal." He also noted that it was about "cataclysmic events that wake you up" (on Kyle Meredith's podcast).

Along those lines, it is a fairly straightforward, not-complicated lyric about an epiphany of sorts. Beck frequently uses light to signify an awakening (i.e. throughout Morning Phase and Sea Change), but here it comes suddenly, not patiently or cyclically. Long dark nights can end by either waiting for the morning to come, or in a flash of lightning.
 
Live:

Played live 26 times:
Earliest known live version: April 28, 2019
Latest known live version: August 21, 2019
 
Notes:
Here is the song's official video:

And here is the song's "Freestyle" version: