Crying Lightning is a song by the English rock band released as the first single from their third album ‘Humbug’ on 6th July 2009.
Now, this is my interpretation from what I understood from the song. I could be wrong, I haven’t found a source where the writer(most likely Alex Turner since he was the principal song writer) is discussing the intent and meaning behind the song. But if you know, let me know in the comments.
The song is about a girl who the guy is attracted to. He probably falls hard in love for her. She has a twisted and deranged personality and likes to play games with men. The guy knows that she is playing with him and likes it initially because he is deep in love. Later on, it takes a toll on him and he develops a hatred for her.
Outside the cafe by the cracker factory
You were practicing a magic trick
And my thoughts got rude, as you talked and chewed
On the last of your pick and mix
The song is probably using a lot of metaphors. Outside the cafe by the cracker factory probably is the place where the guy met the girl(could be for the first time). Practicing a magic trick is basically seeing if she could attract and get the guy to be in her control. The guy’s thoughts get rude is basically the fact that he senses something wrong about her while she is taking advantage of the sweet things like gobstopper, pick and mix etc, that he has offered her. (This gives us the hint that she might be a gold digger).
Said your mistaken if your thinking that I haven’t been called cold before
As you bit into your strawberry lace
And then a flip in your attention in the form of a gobstopper
Is all you have left and it was going to waste
She later becomes cold with him and tells him that he is mistaken if he is thinking that she has not been called cold before. She is basically enjoying the perks that he offers her and she is not really concerned with his feelings.
Your past-times, consisted of the strange
And twisted and deranged
And I love that little game you had called
And how you like to aggravate the ice-cream man on rainy afternoons
She likes to play games with men and the game is referred to as ‘Crying lightening’. She has been playing these games with men before and is doing the same with the guy. Initially, he loves that she is playing games with him as he is blinded by his love for her and finds it cute maybe. Aggravating the ice cream man on rainy afternoons could be the fact that she is mocking the guy(the ice cream) who offers her benefits(ice cream). On rainy afternoon is metaphor for the ice cream man not being able to sell ice cream on rainy afternoons, meaning that she is mocking the guy when the guy is unable to live up to her expectations and offer her the things that she wants.
The next time that I caught my own reflection
It was on it’s way to meet you
Thinking of excuses to postpone
You never look like yourself from the side
But your profile did not hide
The fact you knew I was approaching your throne
The next time that I caught my own reflection it was on its way to meet you is referring to the fact that the singer was contemplating about meeting the girl next time and thinking of excuses to postpone means he wants to get rid of her and is making excuses to avoid the meeting.
With folded arms you occupy the bench like toothache
Stood and puff your chest out like you never lost a war
And though I try so not to suffer the indignity of a reaction
There was no cracks to grasp or gaps to claw
The girl knew that this time, the guys was coming to confront her. She was ready to face him and stood up and pushed her chest out like she had never lost a war. The guy realizes that there is nothing more left in the relationship as there were no more cracks to gasp or gaps to claw.
In the end, the guy ends up hating the game she plays with him and her as well which perhaps caused him to cry.
In the acoustic version, there is an extended part of this song.
You were reading a book about some idiot, and telling me about another. I was so severely underwhelmed I thought I might never recover. Straighten the rudder girl, and sail me upstairs. And go and find somebody who cares. Well we might not be the perfect partners, but tonight we make the pair.
This part probably talks about her telling the guy about an ex that she used to date in the past while the guy found out that there someone else involved as well. The girl used to have a lot of affairs and twisted stories and he tells her to straighten the rudder. The guy realizes that they are not the perfect partners but pair for the time being. He knows he will leave her and tells her to find someone who cares because he doesn’t anymore.