Ride The Lightning is the second (and title) track of Metallica's second studio album, Ride the Lightning. The song was written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton, and Dave Mustaine. It is one of the last Metallica songs that Mustaine receives a writing credit for (along with "Call of Ktulu"), as he wrote the "spider chord" riff used in the song.
Keeping in the political themes of the first three tracks, the song deals with capital punishment and the flaws that come with it. The protagonist of the story depicted within the song is a man who is convicted for an unknown crime and is executed via electrocution.
In many interviews Hetfield stated that the song is not critical against the capital punishment, but that he wrote the lyrics trying to express the point of view of a person who deals with the electric chair.
The song is the third longest song off the album, clocking in at 6:37 (just one second longer than "Creeping Death"), after "Fade to Black" (6:57) and "The Call of Ktulu" (8:54). It also features some of James Hetfield's highest note-singing (although they are screamed) and a lengthy guitar solo by Kirk Hammett, with lots of tapping at the beginning.
- ”Ride The Lightning” was played live for the first time on November 07, 1983, in San Francisco, CA.
- Metallica stopped playing "Ride the Lightning" live in 1987, but later started playing it live during 2003 and has been a concert staple since.
- As August of 2016, “Ride The Lightning” has been played live 344 times.
Guilty as charged But damn it, it ain't right There is 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 my eyes Now it's time to die Burning in my brain I can feel the flames Wait for the sign To flick the switch of death It's the beginning of the end Sweat, chilling cold As I watch death unfold Consciousness my only friend My fingers grip with fear What am I doing here? Flash before my eyes Now it's time to die Burning in my brain I can feel the flames Someone help me Oh please God help me They are trying to take it all away I don't want to die Time moving slowly The minutes seem like hours The final curtain call I see How true is this? Just get it over with If this is true, just let it be Wakened by the horrid scream Freed from the frightening dream Flash before my eyes Now it's time to die Burning in my brain I can feel the flames