In an interview with VH1, lead singer Pat Monahan revealed that he wrote this song about the death of his mother. Train released their first album in 1998, and were touring that year when Monahan's mom was dying of lung cancer - she was a heavy smoker. This was before the widespread use of cell phones, and Monahan made many stops to pay phones on the tour to speak with his mom during this difficult time. In December of that year, his mother died, and in early 1999 Train was working on their next album when their record company started pressuring them for a hit. Monahan returned to his childhood home in Pennsylvania, and woke one morning with the words "back in the atmosphere" in his head. Beginning a time of healing, he started to compose the song. Said Monahan: "Loss of the most important person in my life was heavy on my mind, and the thought of 'what if no one ever really leaves? What if she's here but different. The idea was, she's back here in the atmosphere." He recorded a demo of the song and played it a week later for Donnie Ienner, who was president of their record company, Columbia. While Monahan wasn't sure how the song would go over, Ienner loved it and told him it was his Grammy song. He was right: It won Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Instrumental Arrangement With Accompanying Vocalist. Ienner had Train record the song quickly so they could put it on the album and use it as the title track.
Why are there drops of Jupiter in her hair? Pat Monahan told Buzzfeed it was part of his vision: "My mother, she was able to swim through planets and turn them into whatever she wanted - they didn't have to be what we know them to be. So she actually had Jupiter in her hair, when she was talking to me."
Pat Monahan said of this song: "It was an obvious connection between me and my mother. 'Drops of Jupiter' was as much about me being on a voyage and trying to find out who I am. The best thing we can do about loss of love is find ourselves through it."
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