"The Quickening" as written by and James Horner....
The quickening is an ephemeral thing
That only happens in the dark
Like catching lightning in a jar
And the pain that it brings
Is just the promise of spring
It's madness on the way
Oh, what does it mean!

To come alive
To come alive
To come alive
(To come alive) To come alive
To come alive
To come alive

The entering is soulful conjecturing
Oh, lost and by the wind-grieved coast
Please come back to me again
Because the way that she bleeds
He'll sit alone when he reads
Confusing words and deeds
So what does it mean!


To pierce the fame of the sacred and profane
For science, in service of the faith
But who will bear the mark of Cain?

Lyrics submitted by Aerion

"The Quickening" as written by Brett Gurewitz Greg Graffin

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., MOTHERSHIP MUSIC PUBLISHING

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The Quickening song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentFirst off, the lyrics as printed above are wrong in more than one place. Latchkey Kid got one. "Madness on the way" ...doesn't even rhyme. Try "madness on the wing". "oh lost and by the wind grieved coast"? Come on now, this isn't the first reference to Thomas Wolfe's (the original, not the contemporary Wolfe) work (see "Stranger than Fiction"). The line is "Oh lost, and by the wind grieved ghost, Please come back to me again", a direct quote from Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel". It's not "for science...", but "Poor science in the service of a faith". StarryStarrySkies hit the nail on the head with the sacred and profane concept developed by Durkheim, which was further expanded on in a book by Mircea Eliade, titled (surprisingly), "The Sacred and Profane".

    All of that said, I have to agree with the first part of presidentwax's post. Abortion. Not the first time BR has covered this topic (see "Operation Rescue" and maaaybe, "Tiny Voices") and it seems to be a no brainer when you consider the agreed understanding of the term the "quickening" coupled with the question posed in the last line, "Who will bear the mark of Cain?" If you don't already know, part of God's punishment for murdering his brother was that Cain would be marked so that all would know he was a murderer. Not a stretch to imagine the song is about abortion when these things are considered together.
    Sentinel13on August 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI wonder if this has any relation to the Art Bell book...nah, doubt it.
    Jakeberton June 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"He’ll sit alone when he reads"
    It's supposed to be: 'Is in the law that he reads'.
    The last bit is definitely about using scientific means to save lives. It's the whole playing God deal.
    Latchkey Kidon October 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe quickening is "the earliest perception of fetal movement by a mother during pregnancy." In former times, before quickening it was permissible to abort the pregnancy.

    So I assume the song is at least partly about the "when does life begin?" debate and how it's somewhat pointless assigning an exact moment.
    bazmegon January 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd say that there is no doubt that this is a song about child birth. What is the definition of life? Is a fetus developing in the womb alive? What about the Egg infused with a sperm in conception? What about a quadrapalegic that is responsive to nothing? Fantastic lyrics.
    dsimp676on March 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't think this is necessarily about childbirth but definitely about birth in some way. He's asking what does it mean to come alive - truly, for the first time? not necessarily as a baby but a spiritual birth? An awakening by some sort of epiphanic revelation, possibly an awakening that forces some sort of negative consequence - the mark of cain, pain, madness.
    bystander_effecton April 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's about the Highlander quickenings "Like catching lightning in a jar"
    Luy22on May 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti thought it was about growing up. but its probly the conception thing
    pinkfadeon July 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits the first time the mother feels the baby move.. like kick or whatnot

    hes gonna be a soccer player
    pinkfadeon July 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthe is..

    he issss.....
    pinkfadeon July 04, 2009   Link

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