“Cranes in the Sky” is the third track from R&B singer and songwriter Solange Knowles and her 2016 album “A Seat at the Table”. The track was written by Knowles with Raphael Saadiq, along with them producing the track with Sir Dylan. In 2018, NPR ranked “Cranes in the Sky” as the #12 greatest song by a female or nonbinary artist in the 21st century.
“Cranes in the Sky” is a slow R&B track where Solange details her attempts at avoiding her internal feelings that are making her sad or angry. In an interview with her fellow musician and sister Beyoncé, Solange spoked to Interview Magazine about the song: ““Cranes in the Sky” is actually a song that I wrote eight years ago. It’s the only song on the album that I wrote independently of the record, and it was a really rough time. I know you remember that time. I was just coming out of my relationship with Julez’s father. We were junior high school sweethearts, and so much of your identity in junior high is built on who you’re with. You see the world through the lens of how you identify and have been identified at that time. So I really had to take a look at myself, outside of being a mother and a wife, and internalize all of these emotions that I had been feeling through that transition. I was working through a lot of challenges at every angle of my life, and a lot of self-doubt, a lot of pity-partying. And I think every woman in her twenties has been there—where it feels like no matter what you are doing to fight through the thing that is holding you back, nothing can fill that void. I used to write and record a lot in Miami during that time, when there was a real estate boom in America, and developers were developing all of this new property. There was a new condo going up every ten feet. You recorded a lot there as well, and I think we experienced Miami as a place of refuge and peace. We weren’t out there wilin’ out and partying. I remember looking up and seeing all of these cranes in the sky. They were so heavy and such an eyesore, and not what I identified with peace and refuge. I remember thinking of it as an analogy for my transition—this idea of building up, up, up that was going on in our country at the time, all of this excessive building, and not really dealing with what was in front of us. And we all know how that ended. That crashed and burned. It was a catastrophe. And that line came to me because it felt so indicative of what was going on in my life as well. And, eight years later, it’s really interesting that now, here we are again, not seeing what’s happening in our country, not wanting to put into perspective all of these ugly things that are staring us in the face.”
The music video for “Cranes in the Sky” was uploaded to Solange’s YouTube channel on the 2nd October 2016, and was directed by Solange and her husband who is an American music video director, Alan Ferguson. The video was shot in a total of nine different locations, some being New Orleans, Texas and New Mexico. Solange is shown in a variety of different outfits, while the camera zooms out of her in a desert, on a building, and occasionally female dancers all dressed like Solange. As of late June 2020, the video has 40.2 million views and 404 thousand likes.
Release Date: 30th September 2016
Songwriter/s: Solange Knowles & Raphael Saadiq
Producer/s: Solange Knowles, Raphael Saadiq & Sir Dylan
Label/s: Saint Records & Columbia
Music Video Release Date: 2nd October 2016
Music Video Director: Alan Ferguson
Chart Rankings, Certifications, & Awards: “Cranes in the Sky” hit peak chart positions of #30 in Belgium, #29 on the UK R&B charts, #74 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #28 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. The track is certified Gold in the US, and won the BET Centric award at the 17th BET Awards.
The lyrics to “Cranes in the Sky” can be read here: LINK