Listen to this track by British singer-songwriter and folk-indie up-and-comer Jake Bugg. It’s “Lightning Bolt”, a hit single as taken from his self-titled 2012 record Jake Bugg. The song was released in April of that year in the UK, and a year later in North America in March.
In addition to its modest chart action, Bugg did the rounds with this record, performing it on late night TV shows and at SXSW, and making inroads to building up respect with indie tastemakers on both sides of the Atlantic. Instead of holding the usual list of obscure influences, Bugg stuck with the classics; the Beatles, early Dylan, Johnny Cash, Hendrix, plus a genuflect for Elvis and the Everly Brothers, too.
With this track, it’s really that classic approach that comes through in the performance and in the production, too. It sounds as if it’s from another era. But it also sounds throughly fresh. I think this has to do with a number of factors, not the least of which has to do with some striking and universal themes it hits on.
Lightning bolts are primal, and quite literally elemental. But, they also have long stood as a symbol for coming to a violent realization. They are a useful metaphor for the experience of walking along, minding your own business, and then suddenly have something happen so unexpected, so radical happen to you that you cannot help but be transformed in some way.
That’s what’s happening in this song; being hit by a force for good ultimately, but one that isn’t exactly comfortable either. It’s one of those experiences that we crave and we fear at the same time. Once again, we see in this song that the human experience isn’t exactly easy to pin down, with fear and wisdom, order and chaos, violence and peace all living together in one inscrutable space. The question remains as always; will we seek the lightning bolt, or do what we can to avoid it?
You can learn more about Jake Bugg predictably by visiting jakebugg.com.