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There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

by

The Smiths



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

In 1993, guitarist, Johnny Marr, told Select magazine that he thought this was "the best song" that he had ever heard: "I didn't realise that 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' was going to be an anthem but when we first played it I thought it was the best song I'd ever heard." In the same interview, Marr revealed that the song's intro was lifted from The Rolling Stones' cover of "Hitch Hike" by Marvin Gaye. The Velvet Underground also swiped this intro for their song, "There She Goes Again." Marr recalled: "There's a little in-joke in there just to illustrate how intellectual I was getting. At the time everyone was into The Velvet Underground and they stole the intro to 'There She Goes Again' - 'da da-da-da, da-da!' - from The Rolling Stones' version of 'Hitch Hike,' the Marvin Gaye song. I just wanted to put that in to see whether the press would say, 'Oh it's the Velvet Underground!' Cos I knew that I was smarter than that. I was listening to what The Velvet Underground was listening to."
In this song, we find front man, Morrissey, in the passenger seat of a potential romantic partner's car. He pleads with the driver, "Don't drop me home." In fact, Morrissey is so captivated by his company that he goes as far as to say that he would not care if a "double-decker bus" crashed into them, as to die by the side of his sweetheart would be "such a heavenly way to die." This narrative has been compared to the 1955 film, Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean - whom Morrissey idolized.
This song appeared to play and record itself. "We did it at the start of the day," Marr reminisced to NME in 2011. "It was an enjoyable 40 minutes. When we all got together, one-two-three-four, it was the first time all four of us had heard what it sounded like. It was magical. Someone told me that if you listen with the volume really, really up you can hear me shout 'That was amazing' right at the end."
This song is accompanied by a synthesized string arrangement. Morrissey was hesitant to use synthesized strings at first, but due to The Smiths' lack of funds, he eventually came around to the idea.
This song provided the title for a chapter in Irving Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting, in which the character, Spud, finds solace in Morrissey's lyrics in face of his own romantic failings. (thanks, Quinn - Toronto, Canada)
In 2005, Morrissey released a live version of this song. His cover of Patti Smith's "Redondo Beach" also featured on the double A-side, which peaked at #11 on the UK chart.
The director of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Danny Boyle, named the segment in which seven young athletes lit the Olympic torch after this song.
In the 2009 film, 500 Days of Summer, this song features during a crucial scene which serves to bring the two main characters together. Tom (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is listening to the song through headphones while riding an elevator with Summer (played by Zooey Deschanel), who overhears the song and comments that she loves The Smiths.
Californian indie band, Dum Dum Girls, Oasis' lead guitarist, Noel Gallagher and Christian quintet, Anberlin have all covered this song. In 1992, Mikel Erentxun released a Spanish reinterpretation called "Esta Luz Nunca Se Apagará." (thanks, Sparrow - Inland Empire, CA)
This was not released as a single until 1992, when it was issued to promote the Best II compilation album. In 2008, Marr explained to Uncut magazine why it was not chosen as a single in 1986: "For a long time I worked on the premise that we should always have a song on each album that people said, 'That should be a single.' But in fact really wasn't. 'Reel Around the Fountain' was that for the first album and 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' for The Queen Is Dead. I thought it was a sign of a really great album that there was a track that everyone wanted as a single, but you had stronger singles instead."
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Comments (11):

'A Light That Never Goes Out' has been adopted as an inspirational slogan by Salford Lad's Club, and features on the club's T-shirts.
- Sheridan, Rome, Italy
I hear that this song is about the relationship between Morrissey and Marr.
- Brian, Stockport, United Kingdom
the line was originally 'there is a light in your eyes that never goes out', inspired by that song 'tonight, the light of love is in your eyes, will you still love me tomorrow?' Morrisey likeed the older songs.

Matt - the movie came after the book (it's by Irvine Welsh)
- Elliot, London, United Kingdom
Yes the title is a play with words of what Hugh Latimer told Nicholas Ridley as they were being executed. Latimer was quoted saying "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
- Libeth, Duarte, CA
Just fantastic, witty, acid yet harmonically digestible... definitely in the realm of my 10 top faves
Pepe
Mexico City
- pepe, mexico, Mexico
There is a fantastic electro version of this song called 'The Light 3000' by Schneider TM, it takes the original in a completely different direction. Just what a cover should be in my opinion, rather than a mindless remake.
- Russell, London, England
This is a apparently about what Hugh Latimer said to Nicholas Ridley as they were about to be burned at the stake as heretics during the reign of Mary I.
Very good song. Smiths' best!
- Jonathan, Bishop, England
In my personal Top 5 list of all time. What an amazing song!!!!
- Jeff, Austin, TX
So beautiful, the double-decker bus bit especially.
- Martin, Eastbourne, England
This is a very inspiring song. I like to listen to it when I'm sad.
- Madison, Los Angeles, CA
I've seen the movie trainspotting? but, now I must read the book... I don't know if the movie was spawned form the book, but, whatev. I'm certainly going ot read the book now though. Its right up there on my list with Lolita, you know, the old man in that book by nabakhov? from the police "don't stand so close to me" GOD! I love the smiths!
- Matt, west springfield, MA
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