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Some turnout, a hundred grand
Get with it we'll shake his hand
Don't bother to understand
Don't question the little man
Be part of the brotherhood
Yes it's chain lightning
It feels so good
Hush brother, we cross the square
Act natural like you don't care
Turn slowly and comb your hair
Don't trouble the midnight air
We're standing just where he stood
It was chain lightning
It feels so good

Lyrics submitted by AbFab

Chain Lightning Lyrics as written by Walter Carl Becker Donald Jay Fagen

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group

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Chain Lightning song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThere's a demo of this song floating around...on this demo, in between the verses, you hear Fagen whisper the words "Thirty years later..."

    That pretty much sews it up for me. The first verse is about two German youths attending a fascist rally in late-30's Germany, wanting to meet 'the great man' and shake his hand, while being "part of the brotherhood".

    The second verse is the same two people going back to the same site thirty years later, and casting their memories back to what they were a part of back then.
    thermo4on October 08, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBut the lingo is so not Nazi Germany.

    Surreal treatment of the topic.
    GreyBlueEyeson August 25, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWow... between the daisy chain rape allusion and Hitler references, y'all some dark m*therf*ckers, lol.

    I always thought it was a description of Fagen, Becker and their musicians passing a marijuana joint amongst each other in deep satisfaction after a massive, 100,000+ turnout live show, and that chain lightning was a visual meditation on what the haze of smoke in the room looked like.

    "We're standing just where he stood", to me, was always a reference to someplace Charlie Parker or one of their heroes who influenced them, once stood. Whereas Fagen and Becker, writing the tune, had once been in the audience worshiping and in awe of older jazz and rock gods, now THEY are the rock gods being worshiped and viewed with awe by hundreds of thousands.

    Becker, to Fagen: "Man. Awesome, can you believe it? And now it's us!"
    Fagen, to Becker: "Right on. (Grin) Pass the dutchie."

    Just kind of a smug, leaned-back "ain't life awesome?" realizing that they are now living the dream, enjoying the life of rock gods.

    If you're looking for Steely Dan Nazi references, listen no further than "Western World": THAT is where they are.
    heatherferon January 28, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAdolph Hitler and the rising og the third reich.
    Doctor Wuon December 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWow, yeah. At first I laughed at the first review, assuming it was another smarta$$. But upon reflection, I'm convinced without too much argument.

    I always assumed it was about going to a concert with a chance to meet some sort of musical great - I met Tony Williams once, shook his hand. It kind of felt like this tune.

    I'm a tantric, and so don't quite buy the fact that good and evil are separate poles, so to me there's maybe not so much cognitive dissonance here. That 'chain lightning' feeling comes in many forms, and always feels good, no matter if it's right or wrong.

    That's the dangerous part.... make sure you're on the right side before you whip out that chain lightnin'.

    Now that I think about it, that slow, lilting groove that this tune lays down actually does have that same feeling of standing in a place where you know something big once happened. I've been to Dealy Plaza, and felt that. Also been to the Place de la Concorde, Notre Dame cathedral, etc... similar feeling. Heavy and constant, just like this rhythm. Good tune.
    rainwalkon March 25, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always thought it was a about the jazz scene--especially the rise of bop--and how it's not supposed to be music for the uninitiated (don't bother to understand/don't question the little man), "brotherhood"/"brother " being a term of camraderie between black musicians.

    But the Hitler/Nazi interpretation works well, too.
    ProfessorKnowItAllon September 14, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTaking the Nazi interpretation..the lightning bolts were the insignia of the SS see: adl.org/hate_symbols/…
    myfriendvladon June 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBut, it is of course possible that F & B also thought that the SS insignia looked like chain lightning.
    AvidVideon November 17, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPost 1 & 3 had it right.

    "Don't question the little man" = Hitler.

    Right from Fagen:


    str8flushon May 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have to completely agree that it is set in the environment of a Nazi youth rally. I have always felt that "chain lightening" referred to the double "S" on the uniforms.

    PLA0242on June 29, 2010   Link

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