They didn’t think it through #1: Stormbringer

By Ritchie Blackmore and David Coverdale, on Deep Purple’s Stormbringer album, the song of the same name begins:

Coming out of nowhere, driving like rain
Stormbringer dance on the thunder again
Dark cloud gathering, breaking the day
No point running ‘cos it’s coming your way

Now here’s the thing. If it’s coming your way, then there is a point in running — to get out of the way. The only time there would be no point running would be if it wasn’t coming your way — in fact, running would be contraindicated since you would run the risk of putting yourself in a position where it was coming your way.

So really that second couplet should read:

Dark cloud gathering, breaking the day
No point running unless it’s coming your way

They just didn’t think it through.

12 responses to “They didn’t think it through #1: Stormbringer

  1. Well, if it’s faster than you, then, running is futile since it will catch you, and, when it does, you’ll be tired and less able to fight it. However, the quoted verse doesn’t give relative speed values, so I don’t know if this is valid.

  2. But even if it’s faster than you, you can escape it by running at right-angles to its trajectory.

  3. Richard G. Whitbread

    You’re quite right, Michael. They didn’t (think it through).

    Just one thing: if we’re going to be consistent with the way the lyrics scan in the original, I suppose we’d better make that revised last line read ‘No point running ‘less it’s coming your way’. It’s so much more…rock and roll.

    Sorry, rock ‘n’ roll.

  4. Maybe the idea is that it’s following you — wherever you go — so that there’s no point in running. That is, it doesn’t just happen to be coming in your direction right now (in which case running would help); it’s coming for you specifically. Still, even in that event, there would be *some* point to running, if only to delay the inevitable.

    Alternately, maybe they mean “your way” in the Burger King sense: there’s no point in running because it’s coming *just the way you like it*. Because, you know, dancing! Rainbows!

  5. I think if it was actually following you, they should have said so: “It’s coming your way” certainly doesn’t carry that connotation to my ears. Actually the only way this lyric would make sense would be if you want it to catch you — for example, because it is a large cash prize. In that case, there really would be no point running if it was coming your way, but you would certainly want to run, to intersect its trajectory, if it wasn’t coming your way.

  6. Literally and technically, you are correct, Mike. That line could have maybe been written better.

    We get the sense that what they’re trying to get across is the notion of an inevitable time of Bad Things happening. That the reason why there’s no point in running is that no matter what you do, the storm or Bad Things will inevitably reach you because they’re specifically targeting you–like the terminator.

    But I’m not sure their lyric expressed that very well.

    The Stormbringer part suggests to me that they’re trying to reference Tolkien in a Led Zeppelin sort of way. But if my guess is accurate, then they goofed that too. Since Gandalf is more sort of a harbinger (Stormcrow) of doom rather than an actual causer of doom.

    Now the Doctor on the other hand–see he could be the Oncoming Storm.

    A little more Zeppelin–this is what I was sub-consciously remembering:
    “Leaves are fallin’ all around, time I was on my way
    Thanks to you, I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay
    but now it’s time for me to go, the autumn moon lights my way
    for now I smell the rain, and with it, pain
    and it’s headed my way”
    http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Ramble-on-lyrics-Led-Zeppelin/53DAB102549C8A654825688700010905

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  7. We get the sense that what they’re trying to get across is the notion of an inevitable time of Bad Things happening.

    No, that doesn’t work either. In that case, the lyrics should have been “No point running irrespective of whether it’s coming your way”. In fact, why even bring up the matter of whether or not it’s coming your way? They could have optimised their lyrics right down to “No point running”.

    (IIRC, the name “Stormbringer” is a reference to some trashy Michael Moorcock book, not Tolkien.)

  8. No, it’s “coming your way” – whichever way you run, it’s coming your way. It will find you. Hard luck. And you’ll get a bloke from Saltburn to sing it at you for your troubles. Which is nice.

  9. The simple interpretation works. A storm covers a large area, so if it’s “coming your way” at a typical speed, you can’t run fast enough to escape. Airplanes fly around storms, but people on foot can’t.

  10. But the cover-art suggests that the storm in question is more like a tornado than a hurricane, and certainly implies that simply side-stepping it would be an option.

    Perhaps they intended to suggest that because the storm is so localised and concentrated, it’s not necessary to run; merely walking at right-angles to its direction of travel is sufficient. Perhaps the original lyric was “No point running ‘cos it’s coming your way very slowly“, but the end of the line got chopped off during the mixing.

  11. If you get this worked up over “Stormbringer”, never, ever, ever listen to Hawkwind.

    “Ooooo, it’s gonna make you run. Needle needle, needle needle gun.”

  12. Oddly enough, although I’ve never heard Hawkwind’s version, I do know that song in a version by The Brain Surgeons, the band of Albert Bouchard, late of Blue Öyster Cult. It’s … not one of my favourites.

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