I feel the trembling tingle of a sleepless night
Creep through my fingers and the moon is bright
Beams of blue come flickering through my window pane
Like gypsy moths that dance around a candle flame

And I wonder if you know
That I never understood
That although you said you'd go
Until you did I never thought you would

Moonlight used to bathe the contours of your face
While chestnut hair fell all around the pillow case
And the fragrance of your flowers rest beneath my head
A sympathy bouquet left with the love that's dead

And I wonder if you know
That I never understood
That although you said you'd go
Until you did I never thought you would

Never thought the words you said were true
Never thought you said just what you meant
Never knew how much I needed you
Never thought you'd leave, until you went

Morning comes and morning goes with no regret
And evening brings the memories I can't forget
Empty rooms that echo as I climb the stairs
And empty clothes that drape and fall on empty chairs

And I wonder if you know
That I never understood
That although you said you'd go
Until you did I never thought you would

Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Empty Chairs Lyrics as written by Don Mclean

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Empty Chairs song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThis has always meant the loss of a loved one to me, probably a lover whom you felt would always bethere even though things weren't perfect. Have listened to it alot since my husband of 25 years just walked out one day- didn't see it coming at all and he didn't talk about his problems in a way I understood. Makes me feel that at least i'm not the only one.
    sheilabon August 13, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'm pretty sure it's about an unexpected breakup. He seems to be naive to the fact that she was giving him all the signs but, ultimately, he didn't know what he had till it was gone!

    FYI - Ever heard that song "Killing Me Softly With His Song"? Yeah. The "song" that is spoken of, it's this one! Empty Chairs! And the "his" is Don McLean's!
    ikeon March 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen I first listened to this song I though it was about a freind who always thretened to commit suicide, but then they finally did. And Don felt guilty because he never believed them. Then I thought it sounded like someone died of cancer and he knew it would happen but he hadnt faced up too it. Now it makes me think of a lover leaving him, after years of thretening to.
    Heavens_Childon August 11, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is very interesting because it's about the loss of a loved one - the only thing unclear is whether it's to death or to a break up. I tend to lean towards the break up interpretation because of "A sympathy bouquet left with the love that's dead ." It's interesting comparing a break up to death, because sometimes it can feel like that. Either way, this is a song that covers acceptance and coping with loss.
    asutboneon April 09, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is about a breakup, simply because of the lines "although you said you'd go ... until you did - I never thought you would"

    However, this song and DM's performance are so moving that it captures the same feeling of loss from many of life's moments: including breakup or death of a loved one.

    I even feel this captures the feeling of a single parent losing a child who has gone off to college or military. leaving the parent at home alone. Though the lyrics quite don't match that scenario, the feelings communicated in the song are quite applicable.

    I'm sure there are other situations of loss for which this song resonates.

    BTW - this is a truly brilliant song and performance.
    tsreybon September 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of my favorite Don McLean songs. It speaks to me about drug addiction and recover or maybe the relationship between a brother and sister who don't get along.
    TheThornBirdson February 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love songs like this where they can mean a variety of things this song reminds me
    of a song in Spanish call Amor Eterno ~ Eternal Love it can be about anyone!
    kikari_sanon May 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is to his ex wife who always threw her clothes on chairs.
    Dufferon December 15, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about him losing a loved one because of the line -a sympathy bouquet left with the love-

    someone came over with flowers saying im sorry for your loss- hence sympathy bouquet

    it makes more sense than his wife leaving and giving him flowers i think.
    evilmustachemanon August 19, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCan anyone explain the line "morning comes and morning goes with no regret"? Why is there no regret, shouldn't he be regretting that she left?
    Aryegreenon May 08, 2014   Link

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