Leave A Light On

Album: Runaway Horses (1989)
Charted: 4 11
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Songfacts®:

  • The uplifting chorus can mask the meaning in this song, which is about a woman who is leaving her man because she needs time to find herself. She asks him to "leave a light on" for her, meaning to wait for her return, but that's a lot to ask.

    The lyric was written by Ellen Shipley, who said in a Songfacts interview: "That was very specifically a feeling that I had about people going on their own way. Even though they love someone, it's just time for them to find themselves. It's pretty easy.

    In that story, she had to go find herself in order to come back and be with this person. Oftentimes people leave because they're not done growing up, and in this case she feels like she will be back so she says, "Leave the light on for me, the porch light, because I'm going to come back." But there's always the doubt that he'll be there.

    It was more important for her to find herself first, which is my feeling in life. And if you're in a relationship and something feels wrong, if you break it down to not the guy or not the woman but in yourself, it usually has to do with finding yourself and coming into a relationship as a full authentic person. So, I tried to do that with the lyric."
  • This was produced and co-written by San Francisco-based Rick Nowels, who also co-wrote the Grammy-nominated "White Flag" with Dido and ASCAP's 2004 Pop Song of the Year, "The Game Of Love," by Santana and Michelle Branch. Nowels and Ellen Shipley wrote many of Belinda's biggest hits, including "Heaven Is A Place On Earth," "Circle In The Sand" and "(We Want) The Same Thing."
  • George Harrison provided the slide guitar solo. He also did the 12-string and bass on another track on the album: "Deep Deep Ocean."

    In the 1980s and '90s George Harrison didn't work with many other people, and after his death, Olivia Harrison told Belinda Carlisle that he agreed to work on her album because he loved her voice. George Harrison wrote Rick Nowels a letter saying he "hopes he likes his guitar work because he got a blister playing it."
  • "Leave A Light On" was the first single from Carlisle's third solo album, Runaway Horses. It was the last of her big hits; the following year, the Go-Go's got back together for the first of many reunions.
  • The video, directed by Peter Care, was shot the Las Vegas desert. Carlisle sings alone in the landscape to convey a sense of both isolation and freedom.

Comments: 5

  • Gerry from Melbourne, Australia I’ve listened to this song for years trying to work out what it all means.
    Now, having read the lyrics, I think it’s a bunch of crap. “Leaving here man to go and find herself”. If this, in anyway was “reality” he would tell her to go, don’t stop, and don’t bother coming back.
    This sounds like a song written back in the 60’s, the Hippies used to carry on with this rubbish.
  • Paul from Geelong, Australiahelp - i've listened to this brill song and the full cd many imes and i can't tell which songs include bryan adams on vocals ?
  • Jack from New York, NyMany thnx to Ed Pearce. As a Harrison idiot, I had NO idea why he would ever work with her. Some of his best guitar work are on this tune and "Ocean" as well. There are few guitarists who had such a signature as George did (Hendrix/Edge/Santana,etc.) and this really spotlights it.
  • Mike from Santa Barbara, CaThis song has been performed for the soldiers in Iraq who have wives and children they left behind.
  • Bill from Downers Grove, IlBy far my favorite Belinda song. I didn't know George Harrison worked on it. Thanks for the info !
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