goes out

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" is a song by the The Smiths, written by Morrissey and Johnny Marr. It was originally featured on their 1986 album The Queen Is Dead, but despite its popularity it was not released as a single until 1992, after The Smiths split up. Morrissey re-released the song as a double A-side live single (with his cover of Patti Smith's "Redondo Beach") in 2005, which reached #11 in the UK singles chart.

The song lyrically utilises a first-person narrative concerning yearning, anxiety, and implied romance. Morrissey assumes the role of a person who has, one could infer from the lyrics, been kicked out of home, so seeks solace and company in the form of the person the song addresses - the car's driver.

Musically, the song begins with a staccato bridge similar to that heard on "Hitch Hike" by Marvin Gaye and "There She Goes Again" by The Velvet Underground, which recurs as a musical motif throughout the song. With synthesized strings, a balladesque arrangement and yearning lyrics, many listeners have viewed "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" as a straightforward love song despite some ambiguity in the lyrics themselves.


Many of Morrissey's lyrics are borrowed from other sources. In particular, the title of this song has been a source of wonder. One credible suggestion has been that the title is a paraphrase of what Hugh Latimer said to Nicholas Ridley as they were about to be burned at the stake as heretics during the reign of "Bloody Mary," Queen Mary I of England:

"Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Simon Goddard argues in his book Songs That Saved Your Life that the basic narrative story is similar to that of the James Dean film Rebel Without a Cause, in which Dean - an idol of Morrissey's - leaves his torturous home life, being the passenger to a potential romantic partner. Given Morrissey's previous thematic and lyrical borrowings from literature and cinema, this is a viewpoint with some plausibility. According to Goddard, an earlier version lacked some of the finished version's ambiguity, culminating in the line "There is a light in your eyes and it never goes out". Additionally, the video for Morrissey's song Suedehead shows him visiting Dean's childhood home, and at one point displays the words "There is a light that never goes out."

Release and versions

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out was originally planned to be a single from The Queen is Dead, but Rough Trade Records label boss Geoff Travis selected "Bigmouth Strikes Again" from the same album as the release instead. The song has subsequently been covered by a number of artists, including UK singer David Ford (singer), Anberlin, Neuroticfish,Braid, Eurythmics, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, The Magic Numbers, the The Divine Comedy, Neil Finn, Walleye (on the tribute album The World Still Won't Listen), Nada Surf and Ghost Mice. There is also a Spanish version by Mikel Erentxun, called "Esta Luz Nunca se Apagara". Speedstar also recorded a cover which featured on the Triple J Like A Version compilation CD.

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