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
  2.  
 
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
Got no more sun

Then it came to me in a flash of light
By the sycamore tree in the dead of night
The bottom bell in the longest day
And 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

[Pharrell's mumble rap]

Then it came to me in a flash of light
By the sycamore tree in the dead of night
The bottom bell in the longest day
And 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 lay me here in the light?
Lord won't you take me and lead me to the light?
Lord's gonna take me and lay me in the light
Lord's gonna take me and meet me in the night

Then it came to me in a flash of light
By the sycamore tree in the dead of night
The bottom bell in the longest day
And 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
 
The Song:

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

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."

The song was begun in 2013 when Beck first started working with Pharrell Williams, and 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).

It seems to me to be a fairly straightforward 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.