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Album: SurfacingReleased: 1997Charted:
McLachlan wrote this about a drug-addict's struggles with the world. The "angel" symbolizes the drugs the addict gives in to repeatedly.
As McLachlan explained on VH1 Storytellers
, this song is about the Smashing Pumpkins touring keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin, who overdosed on heroin and died in 1996. McLachlan explained that there's nothing constant when you are on the road; everything becomes the same.
On the same Storytellers
show, McLachlan said that this song only took a few hours to write, stating it was a "very easy labor."
This was used in the movie City of Angels
The song has had enduring popularity and has been used in a number of different ways, with some uses (such as in a child memorial) misconstruing the lyrics. McLachan said during a Reddit AMA that she doesn't mind that it gets used in so many different ways. "I think once an artist puts a song out there, it becomes open to interpretation, and I purposefully leave a certain amount of ambiguity in songs so that people can relate the songs to themselves and to their stories," she said.
"And it's for me, it's a great validation as an artist to know that something I've created has gone out there in the world and helped people to heal, or to feel something, in a profound way like that."
The song has soundtracked for a number of years an advertisement for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in which McLachlan serves as the spokesperson. According to the singer, the usage in the commercials has generated over $30 million dollars of donations.