"Lights" as written by Richard Stannard, Ash Frances Howes and Ellie Goulding....
I had a way then
Losing it all on my own
I had a heart then
But the queen has been overthrown
And I'm not sleeping now
The dark is too hard to beat
And I'm not keeping up
The strength I need to push me

You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine them when I'm alone
And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
And dreaming when they're gone
'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine them when I'm alone

Noises, I play within my head
Touch my own skin
And hope they'll still be there
And I think back to when
My brother and my sister slept
In another place
The only time I feel safe

You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine them when I'm alone
And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
And dreaming when they're gone
'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine them when I'm alone

(Lights, lights, lights, lights, lights, lights)

You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine them when I'm alone
And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
Dreaming when they're gone
'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine them when I'm alone

Home, home
(lights, lights, lights)

Home, home
(lights, lights, lights)


Lyrics submitted by Hamandjam, edited by mike, frenzydiamonds, rachaelpen, ShannonCarney, gissel05, Matty, tidaldive

"Lights" as written by Richard Stannard, Ash Frances Howes, Ellie Goulding

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, DOWNTOWN MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC

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Lights song meanings
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  • +14
    Song MeaningThe first verse definitely has hints of a battle with depression. 'the dark is too hard to beat' describes the feeling of overwhelming hopelessness. 'not keeping now the strength I need to push me' belies a lack of self-motivation, which is actually one of the criteria of the diagnosis of clinical depression, another of which is insomnia; 'I'm not sleeping now'. Likewise, having 'a way' and then 'losing it all on my own' implies a self-blame for the path away from 'home'. Unfortunately I can't really see the deeper meaning relating to the overthrown queen and her heart.

    At first I didn't really understand how lights would turn to stone, but after listening to the song again I think she abbreviates her sentences a bit. For example:
    I had a way then/ [i.e. I had a way BACK then, or, I had found my own way back then in the past]
    I had a heart then/
    You show the lights that stop me turn to stone --> You have some 'light' which keeps me human, if you think that stone can imply either death or hopelessness... heart of stone... etc etc basically I think that means that there is this one person which she gets her hope from, which stops her from being completely overcome by her depression, someone who keeps her sane even when she's alone 'you shine it when I'm alone/And so I tell myself that I'll be strong'. This person [or the 'light' that this person has] is amazing because it even instills life into her when the person/light isn't there 'dreaming when I'm gone'. To further over-elaborate, as soon as there is mention of light in the song, the lyrics turn from words of desperation ['losing', 'overthrown', 'not sleeping', 'too hard to beat' etc] to words of hope ['shine', 'strong', 'dreaming'].

    The constant repeat of 'calling home/calling me home' is like the constant pull of the previous place she 'felt safe', with her 'brother' and 'sister'. I guess the light provides a reminiscent/nostalgic reminder? After all, home is the place where there is supposed to be unconditional love.

    The second verse is a definite move on from the depressed state she was in in verse one. The fact that she's 'hoping I'm still breathing' is the opposite to wishing she could die, which is what is known as 'suicidal ideation'... yet another diagnostic criteria of depression. Thinking back to her sleeping siblings implies that she was an elder sibling who had to take care of them. This thought could be further developed; because her parents were gone [dead? deserted?], they lived in an 'unlocked place'. The fact that her parents are not mentioned might even imply that they were neither good nor bad in her mind, but merely absent.

    To talk a little about the musicality of the song, the lightness of the shimmering synthesizer at the start remains from start all the way to finish, and brings to mind twinkling stars. Her innocent voice definitely contrasts with the darkness of the lyrics of the first verse. However once the chorus kicks in, it's sung in a two-voice octave harmony which dispells the sense of alone-ness of the first verse and brings a sense of company.

    To read a little between the lines, I would guess that family is the major underlying message here, that even if it was just her, her brother and her sister without her parents, even if they lived in an unlocked place, the emotional security that they gave each other was far better than anything else the world had to offer. Even a broken family with trust and love is better than none.

    Some questions I'd like to postulate.
    1) 'Light' is probably just a symbol for hope. But what is it really? What could 'call' her home, or call home?
    2) the person she calls 'you' is never really elaborated on either. It's unlikely 'you' is a real physical person as she can't be alone when there is a 'you' to shine the lights [because... her... plus 'you'... is two people... which is the opposite of being alone, which is one person. Being alone with someone is different!]
    3) Calling calling calling home not only sounds cool but perhaps emulates a telephone ringing?
    4) Could the 'queen' be a codename for a significant other in her new life [away from home] that, once 'overthrown', caused misery/borderline depression?

    sam
    samtwloon April 08, 2011   Link
  • +9
    General Commentfeel that this speaks to the sexual abuse of children. I've read many opinions and they are all very thought provoking but this is the one that makes the most sense to me.

    Here's my lyrical interpretation:

    "I had a way then losing it all on my own
    I had a heart then but the queen has been overthrown"

    I think speaks to how her childhood was taken from her and how her heart was hardened.

    "And I'm not sleeping now the dark is too hard to beat
    And I'm not keeping now the strength I need to push me"

    I think here she talks about how darkness is the enemy because that's when the abuse takes place and she's losing hope.

    "You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
    You shine It when I'm alone"

    I think this talks about the abuse specifically. Her door opens and the light shines in. She turns to stone because she knows what's coming. And it only happens when she's alone.

    "And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
    And dreaming when they're gone"

    Obviously is saying she's trying to be strong until the abuser leaves...or she does.

    "'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home"

    I think she's talking about how the memories are haunting her and she doesn't want to deal with the emotional damage the abuse caused.

    "Noises, I play within my head"

    This is what I imagine a child does when something bad is happening (to them, around them, etc.) and they don't want to think about it.

    "Touch my own skin and hope that I'm still breathing"

    Maybe this means she's trying to comfort herself after the abuse has happened.

    "And I think back to when my brother and my sister slept
    in an unlocked place the only time I feel safe"

    I think this speaks to when her siblings slept in a room close by hers but had no idea what was going on and the locking of a door was significant of her abuser.

    This is obviously a very dark interpretation but I think it's relevant. I do love this song. I think Ellie is extraordinarily talented.
    coolcaston August 07, 2012   Link
  • +6
    General Commenti think this song is about aliens. can't believe nobody has said this!

    callin me home, lights (ie ufos), how she used to feel secure until the aliens abused her, noises play with my head
    Mimzy1989on May 20, 2011   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationI feel that this speaks to the sexual abuse of children. I've read many opinions and they are all very thought provoking but this is the one that makes the most sense to me.

    Here's my lyrical interpretation:

    "I had a way then losing it all on my own
    I had a heart then but the queen has been overthrown"

    I think speaks to how her childhood was taken from her and how her heart was hardened.

    "And I'm not sleeping now the dark is too hard to beat
    And I'm not keeping now the strength I need to push me"

    I think here she talks about how darkness is the enemy because that's when the abuse takes place and she's losing hope.

    "You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
    You shine It when I'm alone"

    I think this talks about the abuse specifically. Her door opens and the light shines in. She turns to stone because she knows what's coming. And it only happens when she's alone.

    "And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
    And dreaming when they're gone"

    Obviously is saying she's trying to be strong until the abuser leaves...or she does.

    "'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home"

    I think she's talking about how the memories are haunting her and she doesn't want to deal with the emotional damage the abuse caused.

    "Noises, I play within my head"

    This is what I imagine a child does when something bad is happening (to them, around them, etc.) and they don't want to think about it.

    "Touch my own skin and hope that I'm still breathing"

    Maybe this means she's trying to comfort herself after the abuse has happened.

    "And I think back to when my brother and my sister slept
    in an unlocked place the only time I feel safe"

    I think this speaks to when her siblings slept in a room close by hers but had no idea what was going on and the locking of a door was significant of her abuser.

    This is obviously a very literal and dark interpretation but I think it's relevant. I do love this song!
    Snickerdoodlezon January 27, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentBrilliant song. Great use of minimal voice effects, massively unique in not only song structure but vocal delivery. Lyrics are ambigous enough to stay with the subconsconcious, yet bounce around for days as to the myriad of interpretations it brings. Playful and plaintive and definitely thought provoking. Where is home ...exactly? and why the facination with lights.. interesting use of familal reference to the brother and sister. Its personal, and at the same, a trillion miles away from anything directly relatable. Think about it, you connect with it from a distance.. There are forces at work here that propel the song imagery far beyond the end credits my friends..
    michael333on August 07, 2012   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationI know this song is about Ellie's fear of the dark, but I think of it a lot differently.

    "I had a way then
    Losing it all on my own
    I had a heart then
    But the queen has been overthrown"
    A person who used to be happy, but recent events have turned that around. She used to make a good impression and be an overall liked person, and now everything about her is hated. The queen has been overthrown.

    "And I'm not sleeping now
    The dark is too hard to beat
    And I'm not keeping up
    The strength I need to push me"

    The dark meaning her depression or sadness. She can't manage to find the strength to push on in her life.

    "You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
    You shine them when I'm alone"

    Someone comes into her life and shows her happiness. Although she's in such a dark place in her mind, this stuns her, or turns her to stone.
    "You shine them when I'm alone" When she's alone is usually when she was most sad, so said person comes into her life when she's most in need, and makes her happy.

    "And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
    And dreaming when they're gone
    'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
    Calling, calling, calling home"

    She tries to be strong for this person, and dreams about recovery. She's finally finding herself and slowly coming away from this dark place. Finally going home. Which is reality.

    "Noises, I play within my head
    Touch my own skin
    And hope that I'm still breathing
    And I think back to when
    My brother and my sister slept
    In another place
    The only time I feel safe"

    Noises, is the voice in her head, the one bringing her negative thoughts. She touches her skin and hopes she's still breathing, because a lot of the time, while going through depression, you begin to doubt whether your alive, and whether you can feel emotion and pain. She thinks back when her family was with her, and when she felt loved by them. That's when she felt safe from herself (the voice inside her head)
    seducemeon August 12, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe grown-up world can be a scary dispiriting place ("not keeping. . .the strength"), full of letdowns ("the Queen has been overthrown"), fear ("I'm not sleeping now"), failure ("losing it all") and depression ("the dark is too hard to beat").

    But before you give in to despair ("turn to stone"), the "lights" of "home," your childhood recall of that safe haven ("when my brother and my sister slept in an unlocked place"), can guide your defeated spirit back towards hope.

    Answering the "call" to return "home," to the unconditional love of parents/family, can recharge resolve, keep alive your "lights" for "when I'm alone."
    yhtrownuon April 14, 2010   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationThis song probably doesn't need anymore interpretations, but mine was a little bit different, so I'l post it anyway!

    I think that the song is like a schizophrenic battle with herself. There are lots of posts that claim that it's just about her fear of the darkness, but I think that it can be her fear of darkness, but go even deeper into that. She is afraid of who she becomes in the darkness, and afraid of losing who she is in the light.

    "I had a way then, losing it all on my own, I had a heart then, but the queen has been overthrown" I think that talks of how she used to have control in her life, but as she struggled with herself the game changed. Specifically she alludes to a game of chess where when someone's queen piece is taken from them the game shifts and they're on the losing side and have to fight hard to come back to win the game.

    The "you" I think she is referring to is herself, rather, who she becomes at night or in the dark. "you" turns the old her, or her in the light to stone when she is overcome by the darkness sense of herself. She hears noises in her head and tells herself that she'll be strong and pull through this, but is having trouble.

    She's glad that her brother and her sister sleep in another place because she's afraid that they'll see her when the darkness overcomes her and she's not herself. Through all of this, the narrator is really just trying to get back to the home, or a safe haven for her to be at peace with herself once again.
    aweltyon August 15, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Commentellie goulding is a pleidian, this and many of her songs talk about it, as well as the imagery in alot of her videos, she's basically telling us all that were not alone and that we all have the light inside us, this is what starry eyed and lights are about.
    kaoruhon December 28, 2012   Link
  • +3
    My OpinionThe good in her is gone. Her heart is no longer.
    The dark is hard to beat and she has no strength to fight it, (something broke her badly and made her go to the dark side) so she dreams of the lights being gone.
    The lights still come when she is alone and make her feel safe( Her family or good thoughts) but those are only memories. Memories she doesn't want to unlock.
    Has she turned completely into stone or does she still feel?
    But the good keeps calling...
    musjunkieon January 30, 2013   Link

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