I Was Here

Album: 4 (2011)
Play Video


  • This bittersweet ballad finds OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder teaming up with prolific hitmaker Diane Warren. Whilst this is Warren's first tune that she's penned for the Texan songstress, Tedder previously contributed "Halo" to Beyoncé's I Am… Sasha Fierce album.
  • The song finds Beyoncé singing about making her mark before her time is up. "When I leave this world I'll leave no regrets/ Leave something to remember so they won't forget/ I was here, I lived, I loved/ I was here, I've did, I've done everything that I wanted…," she sings.
  • Tedder told Billboard magazine how he was approached during the Billboard Music Awards to help flesh out the song barely a month before 4 came out. "There was one song came in at the last minute that was a Diane Warren-written song," said Tedder. "It was just a vocal, just Diane singing basically, and didn't have any real music behind it. We did the entire thing on two airplanes, from Vegas to Boston and then returning from Boston to Vegas two days later. It was absolutely bizarre, but the song sounds great."
  • The reflective ballad was motivated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Speaking to Reuters, Beyoncé said she had nearly completed the recording of 4 when she got a call from Warren. The songwriter played her the song on a guitar over the phone and the singer reacted, "Oh my god, I have to have this song." She added: "I was inspired by September 11. It's the tenth anniversary and I thought, 'Wow, this really completes my album.'"
  • The song was released as a single with all profits going to World Humanitarian Day, a global campaign to shine a spotlight on humanitarian work around the world. A video for the song was filmed at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York in front of a live audience. Beyoncé explained to CNN anchor Anderson Cooper her decision to shoot the visual at the U.N. "I was definitely attracted to raising awareness of this day of recognition," she said, referring to the August 19, 2003 bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 their staff members. "I found out that 22 people lost their lives helping people in Baghdad and I thought it was such an incredible thing to turn that into something positive and try to include the world in doing something great for someone else. " "'I Was Here' says, 'I want to leave my footprints in the sands of time,'" she continued, "and it's basically all of our dreams [about] leaving our mark on the world. We all want to know that our life meant something and that we did something for someone else and that we spread positivity, no matter how big or how small, so the song is perfect for Humanitarian Day."
  • The music video reunites Beyoncé with director Sophie Muller, who directed clips for "Deja Vu" and "Ring The Alarm." The video was released in conjunction with the global launch of World Humanitarian Day, a campaign to reach a billion people with one message, as Beyoncé states in the clip: "It's high time we rise together. Do one thing for a human being. Nothing is too small. Make your mark and say I was here."
  • Diane Warren pitched the song to a second artist as well, whose people were less enthusiastic than Beyoncé's team. Warren recalled to Music Business Worldwide:

    "I was thinking it could be really cool for Beyoncé, but it could be something for a big Susan Boyle voice. So I recorded a guitar and vocal and I sent it to Simon Cowell. And I also called Jay Z and played it to him over the phone.

    [Jay] loved it, he got Beyoncé to call me and she literally stopped her album, which was due to be mastered that week. She recorded it on a Wednesday, a couple of days after she'd heard it, I couldn't even sleep that night I was so excited.

    The next day I got a rejection letter from someone in Simon's office saying, 'Sorry, this song doesn't go all the way for us.' I go, That's okay, I was just in the studio with the biggest artist on the planet and it went all the way for her. Smiley face. And that song's become like a standard, you know, it's cool."

Comments: 1

  • Mercy Johnson Nyimbi from TanzaniaI love Beyonce songs and perfomance
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jonathan Cain of Journey

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."

Colbie Caillat

Colbie CaillatSongwriter Interviews

Since emerging from MySpace with her hit "Bubbly," Colbie has become a top songwriter, even crafting a hit with Taylor Swift.

Mike Campbell

Mike CampbellSongwriter Interviews

Mike is lead guitarist with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and co-writer of classic songs like "Boys Of Summer," "Refugee" and "The Heart Of The Matter."

Benny Mardones

Benny MardonesSongwriter Interviews

His song "Into The Night" is one of the most-played of all time. For Benny, it took him to hell and back.

British Invasion

British InvasionFact or Fiction

Go beyond The Beatles to see what you know about the British Invasion.

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.