What does Ride the Lightning mean?

Metallica: Ride the Lightning Meaning

Album cover for Ride the Lightning album cover

Ride the Lightning Lyrics

Guilty as charged
But damn it, it ain't right
There's someone else controlling me
Death in the air
Strapped in the electric chair
This can't be happening to me

Who made you God to say,
“I'll take your life from you”?

Flash before...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 19th 2008 !⃝


    It's about a man having a dream of going to the electric chair: "Death in the air, strapped in the electric chair." But doesn't believe he should die for what he did: "Guilty as charged, but damn it, it ain't right." He sits there waiting: "Sweat chilling cold, as I watch death unfold." He waits for them to pull the lever: "Wait for the sign, to flick the switch of death - Time moving slow, the minutes seem like hours, the final curtain call I see. How true is this? Just get it over with." They pull the lever: "Flash before my eyes, now it's time to die. Burning in my brain, I can feel the flame." He ends up waking up to find that it was all a dream: "Wakened by horrid scream, freed from this frightening dream."


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 10th 2010 !⃝

    Hah it just hit me. Guilty as charged...Charged! Get it?


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Jun 24th 2007 !⃝

    This song is most certainly not about Zeus on a skate board. Whoever said that obviously has never heard the song before. It is about a man being put in an electric chair and the horrifying executional process the government uses to kill its prisoners. It literally says "Strapped into the electric chair" during the song. "Flash before my eyes" is the theory that your entire life flashes before your eyes before you die."Burning in my brain, I can feel the pain" is the electricity destroying him.It may also be about all of this but the convict has a split personality-"Guilty as charged/But it ain't right/ there's someone else controlling me".

  4. anonymous
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    Apr 5th 2018 !⃝

    When you think of the big picture, this album to me is talking about how corrupt the government and justice system really is. Hence the name of their other album, "and justice for all". Lightning means any kind of danger. In this life, you will come across things and people that are inhumane and corrupt, but you just have to ride it out! And stay out of the lightning.

  5. anonymous
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    Dec 20th 2017 !⃝

    Zeus on a skateboard, thats fucking great. Lmao, i cant believe this site is still around.
    Amongst other obvious interpretations on here, being framed, etc; i have an alternate scenario that comes to mind whenever i hear this song.
    I imagine a man on death row sentenced to the electric chair, and on his day of death, hes trying to create a scene. The way james's voice inflection in this song sounds to me.. almost a taunt of sorts. Hint of sarcasm in there. Mockery perhaps.
    Its pretty easy to picture. Hes sitting there in his cell with the guards outside, trying to get a rise out of them, anything. "This cant be happening to meee" "flash before my eyes"
    Hes obviously deranged. And as his last day of sorts he wants to be as troublesome as possible.
    The title of "ride the lightning" to me, comes from his need to make his execution feel badass. Electrocution, it doesnt sound so bad when you phrase it that way.
    I could go on but i dont feel like typing an essay.
    Try listening to the song with that scene in mind, it almost makes it humorous.
    Anyways, love metallica, im out. Later everyone!

  6. anonymous
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    Oct 10th 2013 !⃝

    It's obviously about a man being executed in an electric chair for something (a crime) he didn't do, framed, possibly.

  7. anonymous
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    Aug 30th 2011 !⃝

    it's about dying in an electric chair and the possibility of punishing only the hired killer while the boss is living freely - 'But damn it ain't right, Someone else controlling me.'

  8. anonymous
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    Jun 4th 2011 !⃝

    OK little fag thinking its zues riding a magical skateboard made of lightning. your a freaking retard. read the two responses at the very top!

  9. anonymous
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    May 25th 2011 !⃝

    The correct meaning of the song is paying the punishment for what you did. Hence the term "Do the crime do the time."

  10. anonymous
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    Apr 17th 2011 !⃝

    It's about capital punishment by the electric chair.

  11. anonymous
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    Jan 7th 2011 !⃝

    He is protesting the electric chair.

  12. anonymous
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    Jan 3rd 2011 !⃝

    The meaning is straight forward. You just have to remember the line "wakened by a horrid scream, freed from this frightening dream" the protagonist have a dream about him being executed in the electric chair for a crime he know he did not commit.

    It's that simple

    Oh, and the "guilty of charge, but dam this ain,t right" just mean that the jury says he's guilty and him thinking/saying "dam, this ain't right"

  13. anonymous
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    Jul 4th 2010 !⃝

    It's obviously about the death penalty use your head " death in the air, strapped the ELECTRIC CHAIR" only an idiot would wonder what it was about!!!!

  14. masterkin
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    Jun 8th 2009 !⃝

    its based off a book where some one is put in jail for stuff he thinks he didnt do.He went crazy so he thinks he's being controled. The rest is about him in the chair dieing

  15. 70BOSS302
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    Jun 3rd 2009 !⃝

    I love the guy who said it's based on the Green Mile. Yep, that's what I'm going with. Since The Green Mile was released in 1999 and Ride The Lightning was released in 1984, that makes perfect sense :) Dee dee dee

  16. musicperson
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    May 1st 2009 !⃝

    Its based on a twilightzone episode where some guy is charged for murder even though he didnt do it. he has to be executed in the electric chair and is afraid to die but in the end he just excepts it.

  17. anonymous
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    Feb 18th 2009 !⃝

    James is standing against capitol punishment in this case death by electrocution the words Damn it It aint right he is saying the chair is a inhumane way to die. there for, ride the lightning

  18. Kwizzel90210
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    Feb 8th 2009 !⃝

    The song is about being put to death in the electric chair. "There's someone else controlling me. Death in the air, strapped in the electric chair, this can't be happening to me." But, other interpretations say that he is innocent when he is in the electric chair. This is clearly contradicted in the lyrics; "Guilty as charged, but damn it ain't right." He is saying here that he wants to stay alive, but instead he is in the electric chair and sees his life flashing before his eyes.

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