Wide awake in the middle of the night
I wonder how she's feelin'
Is it just a trick of the light
Or is her ceiling peeling?

She's sitting up in bed, shakin' her head
At a copy of "True Confessions"
Ooh, it must seem like a fairy tale
To a woman of her profession

But was I all right? (was I all right?)
Did I take you to the height of ecstasy?
Was I all right? (was I all right?)
Did a shadow of emotion cross your face
Or was it just another trick of the light?

But was I all right? (was I all right?)
Did I take you to the height of ecstasy?
Was I all right? (was I all right?)
Did a shadow of emotion cross your face
Or was it just another trick of the light?

Come on, tell me
What's a nice girl like you doin' in a place like this?
They don't make girls like you no more
And I'd like to get to know you
On closer terms than this
But I guess you've heard it all before

Lady of the night
Won't you steal away with me?
Lady of the night
Won't you steal away with me?

The money's lyin' on the floor, she looks at me
Shakes her head and sighs
Out of time, out the door
Red light shinin' in my eyes

But was I all right? (was I all right?)
Did I take you to the height of ecstasy?
Was I all right? (was I all right?)
Did a shadow of emotion cross your face

All right?
But was I all right?
All right?


Lyrics submitted by Chris_Gough

Trick Of The Light song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI don't think this is a song about "John's compulsion for the lifestyle of wanting a prostitute/groupie and (sadly) drugs." Nor do I think he's just self-centered, concerned with his own sexual performance.

    I see it as a story in which the singer hires a prostitute but then feels love towards her and/or a desire for a deeper connection.

    The first two verses seem to be introducing the situation. The first thing we see is that he "wonder[s] how she's feeling". That's sort of the premise. The rest of these verses fills in the background information and set the scene - the peeling paint, the magazine, the reference to the woman's "profession" - i.e. prostitution.

    The chorus seems to be concerned with the impression that the singer has made on the woman. He's asking her (probably not out loud): "Was I all right? / Did I take you to the height of ecstasy? [...] Did a shadow of emotion cross your face / Or was it just another trick of the light?" These questions are all concerned with how the sex was for her, the woman. Rather than just being satisfied by getting what he paid for, he wants to know if it affected her like it affected him (or even at all). He is clearly feeling love or at least tenderness towards the woman, and he's trying to decide whether she might have felt some genuine emotion towards him as well.

    (A few other notes about the chorus. First of all, "the height of ecstasy" refers to sexual pleasure or climax, not drugs. Ecstasy is a word meaning "a state of elated bliss". And second, I'd like to point out the clever wordplay of a "shadow of emotion" being a "trick of the light".)

    The next verse seems like he's talking directly to the woman. The first lines suggest that the woman is good-looking or seems like a "nice girl", not someone whom you'd expect to be a prostitute. The rest of the verse is presenting the main idea of the song in a different way: "I'd like to get to know you / On closer terms than this / But I guess you've heard it all before." He sincerely wants to get closer to the woman, but she's having none of it. As a prostitute, she probably can't afford to get attached to her clients.

    The next verse is simply an invitation that the prostitute come with him, away from her present situation. I interpret the term "Lady of the night" and the other euphemistic references throughout the song to the woman's job as a prostitute as signs of respect that the man has towards the woman.

    The final non-chorus verse of the song concludes the story. The time the singer has paid for has run out, and she takes the money and exits, leaving the singer with nothing but "Red light shining in my eyes" (another reminder that this was paid-for sex, not real love). The woman's behavior suggests that although she feels sympathy towards him, she remains strictly detached and professional in her conduct towards him. In the final chorus, the singer is left still tormented by the question: "Was I all right?", still hoping that he somehow mattered to this woman more than just the next client.

    Overall, the singer comes off for me as very naïve and wistful, while the prostitute is far more experienced and jaded to the world. The essence of the song is that the man is hoping to find love or some kind of human connection, and in the end all he gets is what he paid for -- sex. I think this idea (though probably not this exact situation) is one that many people can relate to, and is what makes this song effective for me.
    treanton July 01, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love songs about hookers!
    DJacques75on November 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYep, it's about that.
    JosephWolfon January 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn defense of we of the male persuasion...the "shadow of emotion" IS the criterion he's using for whether he was "all right." It's kind of the same thing. Particularly since prostitutes aren't supposed to let emotion interfere with their work.
    DJacques75on June 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHookers and love. Life cant get any better than that.
    biff01on June 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, an admission of John's compulsion for the lifestyle of wanting a prostitute/groupie and (sadly) drugs. It's a moment of realization that the prostitute is a person, and that both he and she seek love, ultimately.
    mikeydhhon July 18, 2008   Link
  • -2
    General CommentI hate the way he doesn't seem to care about the girl in this song. Like, he says he sees "a shadow of emotion" in her face, but he brushes that thought aside straight away, all he cares about is whether or not he was any good.

    Typical guy...
    mercury_girl86on January 19, 2006   Link

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