Album: Surfacing (1997)
Charted: 36 4
Play Video


  • McLachlan wrote this about a drug-addict's struggles with the world. The "angel" symbolizes the drugs the addict gives in to repeatedly. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Holly - Pensacola, FL
  • 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 didn't know him and was never a heavy drug user herself, but when she read about his death in Rolling Stone, she felt a connection, as she had just come off two years on the road where "there's nothing constant but 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Stacy - Sunbury, Australia, for above 2
  • This is the song McLachlan's fans ask her about the most, and the one many seem to relate to. "I have the same real, visceral attachment to it that that they do," she told the Charlotte Observer. "It was one of those beautiful songs, for me, that came out quickly and easily. I felt like more of a conduit. There wasn’t all that blood, sweat and tears attached to it. It just kind of happened. Those are blissful moments that seldom happen for me as a songwriter."
  • This was used in the 1998 movie City of Angels during a pivotal scene. McLachlan said this was the best use of any of her songs in a TV series or movie. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jamie - Alameda, CA
  • 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."
  • This is the song at soundtracks those ubiquitous ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) commercials that have been running since 2007. The spots are a serious downer, showing frightened and abused animals in slow motion interspersed with messages like "they suffer alone and terrified." They often come on late at night when TV stations donate unsold advertising time to charity, so you could be enjoying an old movie in the wee hours when suddenly you're looking at a caged kitty that seems to be crying for help. Many change the channel.

    A bane of insomniacs, the spots nonetheless proved incredibly effective, generating over $30 million dollars in donations. They also inextricably linked McLachlan, who appears in some of the spots, with abused dogs and cats.

    When she made the commercial, she didn't think it would be a very big deal; she simply donated a few hours of her time and use of her song. And while she supports the cause, she isn't as passionate about it as many believe. "I love animals as much as the next person, but if I really wanted to attach myself to something, it would be kids and education," she told the Charlotte Observer in 2015. She also admits that she can't watch the spots.
  • This was a very important song for the Run-DMC rapper DMC, who listened to it over and over when he was battling addiction and depression. "It couldn't rid me of the wounds, but 'Angel' was like a life preserver tossed to me during a storm," he wrote in his 2016 memoir Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide. "It didn't pull me out of the water, but it did help me stay afloat until other help came along."

    In 2006, McLachlan sang the hook on DMC's song "Just Like Me."
  • This soundtracks a memorable scene of the spy series Alias in the season 1 episode "A Broken Heart." It plays as Sydney (Jennifer Garner) meets her CIA handler (Michael Vartan) after being stood up by her father for a dinner date. Breaking down over the fractured relationship with her dad and the all-consuming pressure of working as a double agent, she tosses her beeping pager into the ocean.

    It was also used in these TV shows:

    Splitting Up Together ("Melancholicky" - 2019)
    The OA ("Invisible Self" - 2016)
    New Girl ("Oregon" - 2015)
    Waterloo Road ("Happily Ever After" - 2013)
    Cold Case ("A Dollar, A Dream" - 2007)
    Tru Calling ("Closure" - 2004)
    Dawson's Creek ("…Must Come To An End" - 2003)
    The Pretender ("Wake Up" - 1999)
    Early Edition ("Fate" - 1999)
  • This was featured in the 2019 movie The Angry Birds Movie 2.

Comments: 102

  • James from NyActually it’s about heroin addiction and those are facts not my interpretation or opinion. Look it up. If you care to know a songs lyrics you have to know who wrote it and then know about them to fully understand unless they have given out their written lyrics meaning. Which Sara has for this song.
  • AnonymousAs Alma from Nc says "Awesomely beautiful."
  • Sandra Candelari Randel from Santa Fe, NmI woke with this song playing in my head. It's a sign I know well so I looked up the lyrics and here I am writing to this screen. I'm in New Mexico and part of a volunteer organization, We help children in the most impoverished areas of the state as well as foster care kids by supplying free tutors. In the agricultural areas kids are required to do farm work first and school second. For example the average reading skill for a high school graduate in the Chama, NM County School District is a 5th grade level. With more tutors we can reach all the children in need and not just to improve reading skills but math and science learning levels as well. All our tutors are unpaid retired teachers and professors. But we have more need than tutors. Sarah, this song was sent from the Angels to help wherever help is needed. Is there anything you can do for us?
  • Pamela from CalifI will have this song played at my funeral, I interpret the song as an release from this confusing world and the heartache of life, and the realization that you are truly alone. Love your children!!!! Life is short.
  • Alma from NcAwesomely beautiful
  • Kenny from Bannister, Michigan This song pulled me from suicide, the lyrics so accurately describe my pain that I somehow managed to find the strength to go on. I have never used drugs but the concept of escape is alluring. The lyrics that say. There is always some reason to not feel good enough really describe the life of a severely depressed person. This song makes me cry and gives me strength at.the same time. Thank you Sarah
  • Karen Burton from Lincolnshire This song brings me to tears every time, after losing both my parents to cancer in the space of two years.
  • Summer from Wheeling, WvApparently, according to the hogwash Sian wrote, there's no such thing as recovery.
    While most of us recovering addicts fight our demons each and every day to stay clean, we're still able to stay sober.
    Over 2 1/2 years myself, and I don't *plan* on EVER going back.
    And when I lay my head down tonight, I can say, "Today I didn't pick up."
    The dope has lost it's grip on me.
    I don't WANT it.
    There is too much goodness and light in my life now to ever give it all away.

    That's called RECOVERY, Sian, and IT IS POSSIBLE.
    I'm a living testimony to that fact.
    On another note-
    What a beautifully written song, a classic, now and for the rest of time.
  • Anna from NcMerle u hit the nail right on the head. It can mean totally different things depending on where and what your going thru at the time u hear it.
  • Anna from NcI feel it's on depression. If you have bad clinical depression you would probably agree. The arms of the angel to me is I've given up and I can't live like this anymore and be a burden on my kids and husband. I have listened to this song hundreds of times. It makes me kinda feel bettter. I also collect angels and one day will see those angels when God comes to take me home or if I get in a place where nothing matters, I'm a sick retarded mental patient I'm told. As far as the overdose, that's what I would do. It's painless. you just fall asleep. I have never found a med that helps. I can so relate to this song. You feel alone, fearful, no self esteem and u get tired of trying over and over again. So like I said earlier......if you have never experienced hopelessness then u can't even imagine how he felt.
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiI could never make it through the ASPCA commercial without crying like a baby. I can't even watch it on you tube to this day.
  • Michael Weiss from Los AngelesI heard years ago that it was about River Phoenix. Obviously I'm wrong but I was so sure it was.

    Also, the song was on the soundtrack CD for City of Angels, but was not used in the movie at all.
  • Sharon from Port Neches, TxSometimes we need to take a break from our original thoughts on issues. According to the wonderful world of Wikia which is where this next portion of my post was copied from, this is what Ms. McLaughlin stated-
    "Angel" was one of the first songs written for Surfacing. McLachlan said that writing it was easy, "a real joyous occasion." It was inspired by articles that she read in Rolling Stone about musicians turning to heroin to cope with the pressures of the music industry and subsequently overdosing. She said that she identified with the feelings that might lead someone to use heroin: "I've been in that place where you've messed up and you're so lost that you don't know who you are anymore, and you're miserable—and here's this escape route. I've never done heroin, but I've done plenty of other things to escape." She said that the song is about "trying not to take responsibility for other people's problems and trying to love yourself at the same time".

    And yes, to an addict, the Angel is the release the drugs offer! My belief is that McLaughlin didn't focus too much on the Angel, but mostly on what the addicts thoughts were. The message is more pointed at the problems that are created by the type of lifestyle musicians and performers in general become trapped
    into. We all need to learn to quit pointing fingers of indignation and self righteousness!! SO what if you do not agree with her choice of words..... Someone out there may have been touched enough to have actually steered their life in an alternate direction because of the time she took to write and then publish that song!!! Cheers
  • Amanda from Atlanta, GaThis song is about drug addiction at its "greatest" (for lack of better words). "And this sweet madness, oh this glorious madness" is referring to the drug addiction itself. Drug addiction can ultimately lead to only two things; either jail or death (hence in the arms of an angel). Beautifully written song!
  • Deborah from Oakland, CaThe lyrics, "this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees" made me initially believe this song was about prayer. For me, it spoke to how life, in all of it's difficulties, one can find solace in the "arms of the angel" through prayer. It also made me think it might be about suicide as well. I never knew about the drug overdose story. This is a beautiful song, and I had never heard it until JFK Jr and his wife were killed in that plane crash. They played it during a montage of his life on the news. Great lyrics and vocals. Job well done Sarah.
  • Corynne from Rockville, MdMy father, who was a drug addict for most of his life, died about 7 months ago. His birthday is tomorrow, and for some reason this song seems to be popping up everywhere I look. Coming here and finding out it's about drug addiction and death is seriously way too much of a coincidence. It's a beautiful, bittersweet song.
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiMy brother died in April '96 from a heart attack. He was only 36 years old and drugs and alcohol were definite factors. This song reminds me of my brother I miss him so much.
  • Kimberly from Landing, Njthe truth begin s within our spirit as does are souls.

    Everyone please pay attention to our american trust. and agree to are constitution.
  • Samantha from Sydney, AustraliaThis most definitely is a beautiful song. I work in the funeral industry and it is a very popular song. To be honest, many people only pick up on the chorus and that is what they fine comforting.
  • Ed from Lebanon, NhThe hip-hop singer Darryl McDaniels - the "D.M.C." in Run-D.M.C. - said that hearing this song on the radio saved him from committing suicide at a low point in his life. He thanked Sarah for it, then asked her to record with him a version of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" - with revamped lyrics about being adopted, which he found out that he was. Afterwards, Sarah told him that she, too, was adopted. Wotta story.
  • Merle from Joplin, MoThis song "Angel" is a work of art. It will mean something different to each person. It's like Van Gogh's painting "Starry, Starry Night". It's a work of art that will relate to each person based on that person's personal experience in life. This work of art should not be reduced to only a commentary on drug use. It's not necessary that a work of art make a certain kind of impression on everyone because of the artist's motivation. Van Gogh's "Starry, Starry Night" and Rembrandt's "Mona Lisa" are examples of creative processes that now stand without the artists' descriptions. The song "Angel" can stand on it's own with each person's impression of the song. That is what makes it a work of art. If it were only a commentary on drugs, it would have disappeared long ago.
  • Sian from London, United KingdomThis song, written by Sarah McLachlan is called “In the Arms of an Angel”. The title itself, on first consideration evokes the most beautiful concept. An Angel, being heavenly, caring, beautiful, loving, magical and powerful. And the most amazing feeling you could ever conceive of would be, to be in the arms of an Angel. However, when it becomes apparent what the song is about and what the Angel is, the title is deeply sinister.

    An Angel may be heavenly, but Lucifer was also an Angel, and his magic is only used for pure evil and his power, once he has your soul, is unbreakable. The Angel in this song is in fact drugs or alcohol and the Angel here (drugs or alcohol) initially and on the surface adopts the concept of the good Angel but the reality deep underneath is that they extremely evil and powerful.

    Sarah McLachlan has used an Angel as the analogy for drugs and alcohol to demonstrate this complete contradiction in the initial concept of those drugs and how evil they really are; their frightening and sinister deceit; as well as their power.

    The song isn't just called “The Angel”, referring to drugs and alcohol – it is titled “In the Arms of an Angel” - again a stark contradiction in concept. In the arms of a good Angel being that cared for, warm, safe, happy, beautiful feeling. The influence of drugs of alcohol may give you these feelings. A person who is in the arms of a good angel will also be a very good person and behave well. But being in the arms of the bad angel is an extremely frightening and hopeless thought – selling you soul to the devil, being absolutely powerless over such an evil with no chance of escape. A person who is in the arms of the bad angel – the devil, would not be a good person and behave badly. Another title for this song could simply be: “Being Addicted to Drugs of Alcohol”.

    At the beginning of the first verse we are told that all this person is doing is waiting for a second chance. That is all they do, just wait for that to happen. They don't want to be in the arms of the Angel and constantly do nothing else but wish that they weren't. They are just waiting for “a break that will make it ok” - for something to happen that could give them this second chance. It is described as a “break” - a break is something that tends to happen by luck; indicating that no normal rationalisation or event would give that second chance – that is how much of a hold the Angel has.

    “There's always some reason to not feel good enough” tells us that the addict will always be able to think of a reason, any reason to feel like they're not good enough and that they need something to make them feel better. “And it's hard at the end of the day” is the addict thinking that giving up drugs and going through giving up and having to continue not feeling good enough is just too huge a thought for them to contemplate.

    The addict then goes on to persuade themselves to have the drug or drink. Even just thinking about just how difficult it would be trying to get out of the addiction (the arms) and how scary the prospect of life without – even just thinking about it actually makes them crave the drug or drink even more saying they just want a distraction from that - “Oh beautiful release”. The drug is now described as “beautiful” the addict is seeing it as the good Angel at this point in time, they have moved away from wanting to have a second chance and have changed their perception to that of the drug or alcohol being beautiful. It will take away any memories they don't want to have and make the addict empty and weightless and be able to find peace tonight. This tells us that there are memories and feelings that the addict just doesn't want to feel and would rather be empty than have those memories or feelings – they would rather feel nothing at all. And it is only by feeling that may they be able to find “peace” tonight. “Peace” is also significant, it has holy connotations – because the person is seeing the drink or drugs as the good Angel at the minute who will give them this peace.

    The chorus “In the Arms of An Angel......” is as the person falls into the arms of the Angel, that is as they slip into the power of the drink or drugs – as they are starting to have an effect and they are intoxicated or high. “Flying away from here” is telling us that they are getting high, flying away from the place that they are at. The place that they are at is described as a “dark cold hotel room” - it is described as a hotel room indicating that it is not somewhere secure, not a home, a dark and cold hotel room, so it is somewhere that they don't want to be in and don't want to stay in. The “dark cold hotel room” is their state of mind when they are sober that they hate being in. They also want to get away from the endlessness that they fear – the endlessness that they will never be able to escape from this hotel room, the endlessness of trying to escape from it, the endlessness of the feelings and memories that won't go away when they are sober.

    When they are in the arms of the Angel the Angel has pulled them away from the “wreckage” of their “silent reverie”. Their “silent reverie” is their thoughts – silent, that they can't express and those thoughts are so bad that they are a “wreckage” - which is a serious state for something to be in, indicating beyond repair. Their thoughts are so bad and so seemingly unmendable and the only thing that can help them to pull them away is that Angel. The last line of the chorus “Your in the Arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here” is the person being fully under the influence of the alcohol or drugs now – completely in the power of the angel.

    What is very sinister about the whole of the chorus is that it swaps from the person talking about themselves in the first verse to the Angel talking (as it does for the rest of the song) – making us feel that the Angel has ultimate power, it gives us an image of the Angel bringing the addict into their care, persuading them that they are good for the addict, that they are doing this because they want to help the addict, pretending to be good. This demonstrates the strength of drugs and alcohol the substances themselves are calling the addict and telling them that they will solve every problem they have in their lives, taking away all the pain.

    In the next verse the Angel is reinforcing why the person should stay in it's arms (The drugs or alcohol saying why the person should remain an addict). Justifying the addicts dependence on it. They blame other people in the world for the reasoning for the addict to continue using. The Angel says “So tired of this straight line” - this straight line is the world when they aren't high, that the addict is fed up with it. The Angel refer to the people in it as “vultures and thieves at your back” - saying to the addict that everywhere they turn there are these horrid people, preying on them or stealing from them. Painting a nasty and cruel image of the world and everyone in it. The Angel is jealous and doesn't want the addict to have any other loyalty except to it, otherwise it risks losing the addict.

    In the next 2 lines the Angel is almost mocking the addict. “The storm keeps on twisting” the Angel knows that the addicts head is in a real state of turmoil, confusion and even now, directly says that the addict keeps on building on the lie, perpetuating the belief that by having the Angel the addict will make up for everything that they lack. The Angel has so much power over the addict that they can even directly say to them that they are lying, but they know the addict is powerless to escape it.

    The Angel goes on to say, what many addicts say again and again to themselves, one last time won't make any difference, I'll give up tomorrow. Keeping them stuck in this one last time that repeats itself every day, every day is the last time. The Angel then goes on to blatantly say to the addict how miserable it is for the addict. They say that the easiest option is to believe in “this sweet sadness” and “glorious madness” - that is the addiction and the power of drugs or alcohol. Both phrases have contradictions demonstrating the perverse contradiction in addiction to any drugs or alcohol. It is so sweet but so sad. It is glorious, but absolute madness. And that sweet sadness and glorious madness, the Angel says brings the addict to their knees. They are at the mercy of the addiction / drugs / alcohol / Angel. And it is that contradiction that the title of the song is alluding to.

    Then once again we hear the chorus – the addict is at the mercy of the Angel and once again, flies away with the Angel and becomes high. A never ending loop. There is no escape.

  • Jacquelin from Brooklyn, NyThank you for this website. It was close to September 11th when I first heard this song; and I cry every time I hear it (especially in light of a painting that I had seen at the time showing angels carrying people "from the wreckage" of the World Trade Towers). But when I pulled up the actual words (almost 10 years later), then I wondered if it was in memory of a drug addict who finally died by overdose or suicide. So now I have clarity. (I knew people who died after years of drug abuse. It's always a sad story. Thank you, Sarah, for calling their pain to public awareness.) [But about the God attitude, that is your score to settle. Sorry you feel the way you do about Him.]
    -Jacquelin, Brooklyn, NY
  • Deborah from Frankfort, KyPeople who truly have heart are the only ones who can relate to Sarah's beautiful "Angel". The first time I heard "Angel" was after 911. Whenever I hear her song, my mind immediately goes back to that horrific day. But, it also tears my heart out because of those that are struggling everyday to have the strength to beat their own demons. "Angel" relates to all the grief that has embrassed an individual or family for so many reasons. Every word in her song speaks truth about the other side. The side that we pray we will never experience in our lifetime which in reality it will come to pass sooner or later. This is a beautiful song, and a song of reality. Right now as I write this many are in extreme pain and sorrow at no choice of their own. This is what this song means to me. It takes me to a place of extreme heartache. There is nothing I can do to make it better, and it doesn't always work out in the end, at least, how we would like for it to. Life is a gamble, we make choices. The person we choose to be will be based upon our choices. Thank you Sarah for giving us your beautiful song that truly makes us think about the choices we make in our lifetime.

  • Brian from Batavia, NyThis song WAS written for teh Smashing Pumpkins band member who OVERDOSED ON HEROIN and died. If you are any fan of hers you would know that. Look it up on the internet and you will find it.
  • Joe from College Station, TxOK, first things first ... to all you churchy types that want to commandeer this song as some sort of divine inspiration about how your religion gives you all warm and fuzzys with magical sunshine and unicorn farts from heaven, know this ... Sarah McLachlan does not subscribe to your personal beliefs in your magic imaginary friend.

    For evidence of this just look at her song "Dear God". Some pertinent excerpts from this song are as follows, "The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is just somebody's unholy hoax", "If there's one thing I don't believe in it's you, dear God".

    So you holy rollers stop trying to usurp this song as some sort of divine, guardian angel hogwash.

    Now, regarding the song itself ... I LOVED this song when I was younger and still do. I have every SM CD she ever made. I graduated High School in 1996 so this came out when I was in college. I thought it was about suicide for the longest time until she explained the true meaning. Although if you think about it, it kinda is about suicide ... suicide by drugs, but still suicide.

    My ex thought this song was about a guardian angel and all that comforting crap the churchies talk about, and when I said I was pretty sure the song was about suicide that just destroyed my ex's enjoyment of this song. Crushing disappointment doesn't begin to adequately describe the emotion I saw in my ex's eyes. I felt horrible for being the one to cause that.

    So now every time I hear this song I'm reminded of that horrible time and suicide, both at the same time. So to say that this song dredges up strong emotions in me would be a monumental understatement.
  • Joe from Gresham, OrThe thing that make this a great piece of art is that it touches peoples hearts. It can have many different meanings, but it always is touching.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhAm I the ONLY person who finds this song droney and boring? I hear this song and all I want to do is sleep.
  • Tim from Detroit, MiThe instant I heard this song I knew what it was about, I was using Herion at the time. No song EVER touched me sooooo deeply as this song did, and still does till this day. How Sara protrays the mental, and emotional suffering of another person in this song is as close as a person can get to the truth.... next time you see an "addict" please remember they are tormented by thier past, and not just out to get high. thank you. clean 13yrs
  • Jacky from Liverpool, United Kingdomthis has got to be one of my most favourite songs, although it's about a drug addict, i more associate it with my best friend who's critically ill in hospital, waiting for a much needed liver and kidney transplant. And my brother who's a recovering alcoholic. Its a lovely song and there should be more like them
  • Corrina from Jersey, United KingdomI have been married to an addict for 2 years and as soon as I heard this song I knew what it was about as Ihave seen first hand th struggles an addict goes through on a daily basis, beautiful song and so very true.
  • Morgan from Colorado Springs, CoThis song always makes me cry! I was on vacation when my cousin died with the opposite side he was from. We always have a talent show at the end of the week...and my cousins had sang this song for my family and I! :( I miss my cousin...I am crying now.
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiI've always loved this song but I am unable to watch the commercial about abused animals with song playing in the background. When it comes to the part where the caption reads: For some help came to late then it shows some really abused dogs I just can't take it.
  • Eittie from ..., WaThis song was one of those songs that has many interpretations to it and cannot be specified into one category. Beautiful piece of art; I wish there were more songs like this instead of club, drinking and love songs. People need to open their eyes and see that these things can happen to you any day like tomorrow.
  • Vincent from Aliquippa, PaWhen you accept that some ppl in your life abide by the rules of the devil.. you will come to understand that God uses Sarah and this musician she wrote the song for to portray the word of God to other Christians like myself to let us know that when we pray and open up spiritually to him he will comfort us to walk the straight line of our faith and goodness and he will forgive us for our sins and not to search for easy breaks like drugs to feel comfort.. thats evil.. find it through him. sarah was blessed by god and didnt even realize it
  • Lindsay from Atlanta, Georgiathis song is absolutely amazing. there isnt any songs like this anymore and it is really a shame. this song means so much to me. when i was eleven, my grandma went to get back surgery so she wouldnt suffer, and they messed up on her. she wasnt able to walk, and was paralyzed from the waist down however she could still feel her legs. she was in so much pain and finally died from infection after a year of suffering and never leaving her bed. She was the best person i have ever known and i will always miss her. that year was the worst for me because i had to see her in pain and her screaming. this song gives me comfort in knowing she is with the angels and always will be:)
  • Carrie from Roanoke, VaSo it's about drugs. I will have to tell that to my future MIL, a religious fanatic who believes the song is about God.
  • Jen from Bristol, RiI've always thought this song was about a person with an eating disorder..."let me be empty, oh and weightless and maybe I'll find some peace tonight" and "it's easier to believe in this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees." Of course, there are other parts in the song that fit that theory as well, but after finding out it was written about drug addiction, I guess that makes sense too. In the end, they're not so very different.
  • Emily from Around Chicago, IlI agree that this song has a personal meaning to everyone, mainly because mine is so different. Basically to me this song represents an escape to serenity when the rest of your life is a mess. The "vultures and theives" represent people who use and then betray you and/or have lied to you. One significant line for me is "its easier to believe in this sweet madness" because of how hard it is to find the truth in the millions of lies you are tangled in. It's easier to believe in the "sweetest" lie. The one you wish were true.
  • Miranda from Lisbon, Ohthey played this song at my grandma's funeral and everytime i listen to it it makes me wanna cry.
  • Lyndsay from Wakefield, MaWow. I was actually crying while i was listening to this song. It reminds me of my old dog Rocky. He died when i was 8 years old and i really miss him. This song was playing while my mom was talking to the vet when the vet said that Rocky had died of a cancerous tumor in his brain.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InI suppose she goes a bit heavy on the echo here, but still she has a great voice.
    I originally heard that she wrote this not for the guy from Smashing Pumpkins, but for Shannon Hoon, the lead singer for Blind Melon.
    Maybe there was a bit of confusion between two big garden fruits?
  • Vicky Tamblyn from Winnipeg, MbIf anyone has not known about they're guardian angel each of us has then I suggest that you sit down open up your heart and ask. You know those voices that sometimes talk or lights flashing by you or maybe you were driving and spun out on ice and started praying and ended up on a cliff and your angel was holding up the car with you just hanging on the edge.Angels are all around us.
    They are real or ethereal energy of the divine and they love you. This song I believe was her guardian angel speaking about where you go where they take you or where you take yourself drugs cutting or nothing your angel is there. Peace~+~ sister sara you beautiful earth angel sent by the holy light of god's angels.
  • Gary from Dallas, TxI am adding a comment in momory of a distant relation, by marriage. The lady was a Lesbian, but her family loved her dearly. She was so delightful and friendly. One evening, she was driving, and came upon a car wreck. She was a nurse, so she pulled over to see if she could help. A short time later, a tow truck approached, and she didn't see it. She stepped out between two cars and was killed. Her family played this song at her funeral, and they cry each time they hear it. For those of you who can relate to this song, in any way, I implore you to read Psalms 23 aloud. Let it speak to your soul, and you can find the true comfort there...
  • Amber from San Francisco, CaOne of the best songs I've ever heard. Very moving, beautiful and well written. Sarah is a very gifted musician. Not only does she have a beautiful singing voice, but she is also very skilled at song writing. Such a talented and beautiful woman with a kind heart. I love Sarah!
  • Holli from 801, UtThis song reminds me of my friend who committed suicide last summer.
    It played at her funeral..
  • Casandra from Tupelo, MsThis is a very specail song to me. I have a borther that left for the Navy bootcamp in 2000 & the day he was leaven I went to say goodbye and tell him how much he would be missed. This is one of his most favorit songs he love music and also writes it. He is now in R.J.DonavonC.F. for a wreack that happend and he has been wronfully scented there. So now I pray even harder that his ANGLE KEEPS HIM safe from all the HEll thats in this Place. and you can make whatever you want out of a song. So I think she may have worte this for someone that meant something special in her life too.This is just a really easy song to listen to and even if it makes me cry I still like it alot. So thanks for the memories.
  • Lina from Sacramento, CaEverything about this song is beautiful. Different people have their own opinions about this song and I respect that. I have mines too. A cousin of mine made a video with clips and images about our people who had suffered during and after The Secret War in Laos and the way when he plugged this song in the background with an old man who taped his somber voice about how he hasn't ate and had to suffer through the whole day to his father who immigrated to the United States, tears stream down my eyes (ok, tears are coming out my eyes right now). At this very moment, there are still innocent people who are being targeted and killed by south Asian communists in Laos especially my kind of people. Whenever I hear this song or play this song, I hope for nothing more than Angels would watch over them and let them find peace in part of this world. God bless every single beautiful soul.
  • Laney from Bosont, MaSarah Mclachlan wrote that song on her own, she only has a few people writes with and the person she writes with most often is Pierre Marchland, and the majority of her songs she written on her own
  • Olivia from Nlb, OhMclachlan didnt write it my unlce richard noland wrote it and sent it to tennesee so someone could sing it and she did.. he just died he got ranover by a big lawnmower and now i listen to this song all the time
  • Belle from New Orleans, Lap.s. i hate this song and love it at the same time
  • Belle from New Orleans, Laalso, the day after my cat was gone i heard the song 'i will remember you' on the radio and started crying again 'cause i was thinking of my cat. whenever i hear that song i think of him
  • Belle from New Orleans, Laabout a month ago, my cat had to be put to sleep. the day before he had to go, i heard this song on the radio and started crying. this song means alot to me and i will always think of my cat when i hear it.
  • Susan from Aiken, ScI heard an interview with Sarah about this song in which she said that this song really just wrote itself. She said that didn't happen to her very often and that's what made this song so special to her.
  • Phil from Columbia, MdEmotions are intense all on their own, but add drugs, alcohol, the lack of any promise to life and we might perceive that life is'nt worth living ! Sarah Mclachlan's song "Angel" truely can fit many catagories. I belive that life is what we make it, to edify others and build them up and not tear them down, always look for the best in them and sooner or later the best will come out !
  • Paul from Mumbai, IndiaAngel was covered by Westlife as well.
    Pretty good one..that. Also by Kelly Clarkson.
  • Mark from Steamboat Springs, CoI think the Angel is heroin, but it doesn't really matter. The song is really about RELEASE, however that is obtained.
  • Brittany from Newry, IrelandI agree with the fact that this song can be about anything that you want to make it. I personally do think of it as a good song for me, as I am a cutter, and I am a bit suicidal. You can make a song that is so beautiful be about anything that you are going through. I've seen a lot of death in my 18 years, and Ill be damned if this song doesn't in some way remind me of them. Every time I listen to it I do cry, and I do think of the fallen friends and family, but also my own situation at that moment. Thank you to the writer, it is very powerful. Blessigs to all of you.
  • Michelle from Central, CaI first want to say that Abhishek's comment was as moving as the song! It made me cry just reading it. I heard "Angel" for the first time when everything in my life was a complete mess. I was driving in my car and asked for some kind of sign as to why I should believe that angels even existed. Then, to distract myself, I turned the radio on and I heard Sarah McLachlan singing "Angel". My heart goes out to all of you who have lost someone for any reason. It's tough, but hang in there. I believe that angels exist. We just have to ask them for their help and they will, for whatever reason.
    Peace and love to all...
  • Ash from Toms River, Njilisten to this song in remembrance of my grandmother who committed suicide. Its about those who have so much to give but cant go on any longer, stuck in depression.
  • Shellbie from Belton, Txi love this song she has such a beautiful voice
  • Isaac from Slc, Utas manny have said, this song is so beautyful that its probably fine for each person to just figure out what it means to them, however, after looking at it closly, ive come to believe that it was origanly about the person WATCHING someone who is overdosing on heroin, and is therefor extremely helpfull for anyone with a loved one who is dieing or has died from overdose or other suicidal form
  • Rom from Mableton, Gai really love this song.....every day were in the arms of angels......when i hear this song its relaxing.....sarah are an angel.....i have an accoustic verision of this song and cant resist to listen to it everyday...
  • Shannon Mulvany from Spokane, WaMy parents have had this CD forever and I never realized how great it was until now. I LOVE IT!!!!! This song is beautiful.
  • Christian from Memphis, TnThis song is amazing. It's been a part of my life ever since it first came out. It reminds me of my cousin robby who died. He was 17 and had a blood clot in his brain that burst. He's "far from the wreckage" now and when he died he was carried "in the arms of the angel" up to heaven. That's what i'd like to think. And it reminds me of my aunt Tracy that passed away. She struggled with lymphodema and she had pulmonary heart disease and congestive heart failure ... other things like that and this song reminds me of them both a lot and kinda makes me think of how they died and makes me think of them as angels now. it makes me cry and get emotional sometimes but it's an absolutely amazing song
  • Shayna from Kansas City, MoThis song is very important to me because my uncle past away about to years ago from heroine overdose. "Angel" was played at his funeral so it is hard for me to listen to it and is is also hard because it has always been my favorite song.
    -Shayna Lam,Mo
  • Kathy from Mckeesport, PaThis song is beautiful and has alot of meaning for me,one I was in a very very abusive marraige and felt "stuck" in my deep depression.
    Also this song makes me think of my grandmother who suffered with sickness on and off the last years of her life,and still my grandfather beat her and she never complained,you never saw her cry.She never had a bad word to say about anyone and I like to think when I hear this song she is finally at peace and has all the love she never had here,on this earth.
  • Nader Balata from Toronto, CanadaThis is song is clearly about Heroin and its abuse. Sarah McLachlan also reiterated that in a Rollingstone Article. This song is one of those songs that can interpreted in many ways-death, loneliness, or even break ups.

    Nad, Toronto
  • Di from North Freedom, WiThis song makes me think of my sister in law whos daughter passed away. She has great faith and I think the words can mean that the only place she can find comfort is in the arms of the angel. The words "spend all your time waiting for that second chance" would refer to wishing she could see her one more time. Because she died so unexpectedly. Theres always some reason to feel not good enough refer to how difficult it is to get out of bed every day knowing she is gone. "Memories seep from my veins let me be empty and weightless and maybe I find some peace tonight" means she has so many memories that it hurts to remember an more she needs distraction to feel better. Maybe she can sleep tonight. The second verse refers to the way people expect you to act..the straight line. And the way people will talk about you behind you back...the vultures and thieves at your back. All of these things build up inside and you find yourself lying when people ask how you are doing... finally you find comfort in the madness and sadness you fall to your knees in hopes the angel will take you to a place where you won't hurt anymore.
  • James from Charlotte, Ncseeing things? the arms of the angel being the return to the drug after a long ordeal with withdrawl? i am an addict... its just an over-dramatized uneducated (although deeply moving) poetic assumption of opioid dependancy. its oxycontin btw, not cotton lol. song could reffer to heroin in the most tense, but its all about opioids. If you have ever had any dental work done, you probably have the same drugs in your medicine cabinet :) (lortab, lorcet, vicotin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxycontin, heroin, meperidine, demerol ect. ) you make out like the drug is the center of the sadness in these songs, were not "victims" were junkies, we get high, we get addicted, we die... sometime we go a while clean and lie about redemption. put 2 and 2 together.
  • Faith from Abilene, TxI didn't know for a long, long time that the song was about heroin. I liked it before then... but never put a lot of thought into the allusions in the lyrics.

    When I found out what it was about, it made it ten times more powerful. You see, I'm a former heroin addict.

    At the height of my problem, I was traveling around the southwest, staying in a lot of grungy hotel rooms. I spent many months after one of my biggest relapses in hotel rooms.

    I simply never made the direct connection and thought that my own connection to it was vague.

    The lyrics fit it perfectly. The person who said the bit about "so tired of the straight line" was about cocaine, I think you're wrong. Heroin can also be snorted in a similar fashion. I sort of look at a lot of the lines as being dual-sided: being in the arms of the angel could either be a reference to the relief that giving into the drug after going through the horrific withdrawal symptoms, or it could be the death that inevitably comes with that particular long term addiction.

    Songs can be interpreted many ways. If you're suicidal and embrace it as being about that, then you relate. If you're a cutter or anorexic and embrace it about being about that, then you relate. Our own relations to it are more important than the true inspiration, although the stories are fun to read about. Finding out that my own relation's true was uncanny.
  • Ambria from Amarillo, TxMy father passed away due to an OxyContin overdose. We played "Angel" at his funeral. To me, it reminded me so much of his life right before he passed and of his addiction to the drug and it meant that now, he is freed from his enemy and in Heaven to find comfort.
  • Catherine from Chapel Hill, Nci think this song can be taken a lot of ways... the most common meaning i've heard for it is drug addiction, but to me it's about self mutilation... mostly cutting. the first verse really sounds like it to me... like in the prhase "i need some distraction oh beautiful release. the memories seep from my veins" (i think those words are a little off but pretty much the same)
  • Jamie from Alameda, CaI love "Angel." I have a live version of it, and I like it better than the original version--Sarah's voice reaches more poignant notes in the live one. I often consider writing stories about it, but have yet to hatch a good idea.
  • Aj from Cleveland, GaI do think it's about suicide
  • Risa from San Antonio, TxSarah has actually stated in a recorded live show that this song was written about someone with a heroin addiction. I wish I could remember the name of the recording...
  • Carla from Ft Worth, TxTo me the song is about suiciding and finding the forgivness that they couldnt gain in the "dark, cold hotel room" in the "arms of the angel". The only means of escape is to die and as the blood and all memories seep from their veins they realise that they can be lifted from their guilt and be empty and weightless and finally free.
  • Andrew from Ny, Nyyeah, she has a Beautiful voice, and lyrics.
  • Zendada from Austin, TxThis song is about "cutting" and anorexia: two compulsions used to find relief from overwhelming stress. If you have ever cut or starved because you "had" to - you know what I am talking about. The angel is the relief that comes from these compulsions. The song is not about drugs.
  • Danielle from Newfane, United StatesThis song makes me cry beacuse my aunt died to this and my mom were on the way home from my moms friends house and i kept telling my mom to play this song becaused i loved it so much and when we got home my moms friend called(the house we were at) and said she died. so whenever i hear this song i think of her!
  • Lisa from Ashley, Pasarah mclachlan's angel has many clues to drug addiction... "memory seeps from my veins
    let me be empty".... herion is injected though the veins.
    "so tired of the straight line and everywhere you turn" this signifies cocaine.
    i love the song and make me think about my good friend who died of herion abuse.
  • Ryan from Cookeville, TnEnna from Vegas is right, I just watched the DVD five minutes ago, and she wrote it about the keyboard player, for smashing pumpkins. She just thought about all the people who waste their talent on drugs, and how dumb it is.
  • Nicholaus from San Jose, CaThe bass in Angel was played by Barenaked Ladies bassist Jim Creeggan.
  • Kirsten from Lawrence, Ksmy interpretation of this song is in fact a drug addict, but everyone can see it in their own way. i really think that the angel is just when you're taken away from your troubles, but thats just how i saw it. it is a beautiful song, very touching.
  • Sam from Peoria, IlI disagree with josie..i think the song is about what the listener makes it out to be..i associate the song with one of my best friends i lost over the summer..he was in a car accident and put on life support and ended up brain in the song when she says "in the arms of the angel
    fly away from here
    from this dark cold hotel room
    and the endlessness that you fear
    you are pulled from the wreckage
    of your silent reverie
    you're in the arms of the angel
    may you find some comfort here"...well i take as tophers soul leaving his body from the hospital room and him being in the arms of angels to make him feel safe or at yeah i agree with everyone that says the song means what you make it mean or however u take it as
  • Jade from Ottawa, CanadaI saw her perform this last night, and she was a million times better live.
  • Matt from Perth, AustraliaI think that as "Jerica, Springtown, TX" says, the song is able to be interpreted by so many people in so many different ways. That is the beauty of the song. I personally see someone that is not only having problems with heroin, but has had a very hard life, with so much they want to forget and escape from. For these and other reasons they have turned to heroin for the most complete release available to them. Just thought I'd share ...
  • Brad from Portland, OrIt's about suicide and giving up on a life that just doesn't get any better no matter what you do.
    The "break that would make it ok" and the "reason to not feel good enough" are in reference to working hard but no payoff ever coming from it. In fact, things just seem to get worse the harder you try.
    "memory seeps from my veins
    let me be empty
    and weightless and maybe
    I'll find some peace tonight"
    A referece to suicide by exsanguination and a metaphore for casting off the burdens of this life.
    "from this dark cold hotel room
    and the endlessness that you fear"
    The "dark, cold hotel room" is in reference to this world or this life. Like a hotel room is only a temporary place to be, this life is temporary (everyone "checks out" sometime). Also, a hotel room is in reference to somewhere that is not "home" and that when you leave the "hotel room" you would be going "home".
    The "endlessness that you fear" is referring to coming to realization that the way your life is going is not ever going to change no matter what you do or don't do.
    "so tired of the straight line
    and everywhere you turn
    there's vultures and thieves at your back"
    No matter what you do, you just can't get ahead.
    "you keep on building the lie
    that you make up for all that you lack"
    You work hard, but you just keep getting deeper into a hole. You have to put up a "front" so that you appear "ok" to everyone else.
    "it don't make no difference
    escaping one last time
    it's easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
    this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees"
    A realization that the world will go on without you. That it's ok to go find peace for yourself now.

  • Jerica from Springtown, TxWell, whatever the real meaning of the song....(cuz I believe most artists purpose is for your own interpretation as it fits to you) it's a powerful song...lyrically and musically. Sarah McLaughlan is one talented, talented woman.
  • Abby from Melbourne, AustraliaI was always under the impression that the song was about Kurt Cobain, or another dead musician - it has several references to fears held by musicians "there's always some reason to feel not good enough, and it's hard at the end of the day", the reference to the "vultures and thieves at your back"
  • Kimberly from The Falls, CanadaThis song is about over use of drugs. Its especially obvious when she says "
    memory seeps from my veins
    let me be empty
    and weightless and maybe
    I'll find some peace tonight"
    when the momories seep through her veins she means drugs as well as "let me be weightless"
    weightlessness is an effect of drugs
    she compares of the comfort of drugs to angels

  • Abhishek from Aberdeen, ScotlandI used to think that the last thing in this world that I'll do is cry.I was wrong.
  • Enna from Las Vegas, NvI heard that this song was written for the brother of Wendy Malvoin, who used to be in the Revolution- with Prince. Wendy's brother played the keyboards for the Smashing Pumpkins. The brother was doing heroin with the drummer from the Smashing Pumpkins when the brother od'd in a hotel room while on tour.
  • Scott Baddwin from Edmonton, EnglandThe "angel" Is actually the hallucinations caused by the drug.
  • Kt from St. Louis, Moi will remember u -- another funeral song ... hmmm ... morbid sarah mclachlin
  • Aimiee from San Antonio, TxGreat funeral song....bring plenty of Kleenex
  • Jacqui from St Clair Shores, Mii sang this song at my brothers funeral and to this day cannot listen to this song.
  • Jade from Ottawa, CanadaOmg this song makes me cry!!! It's so beautiful, and her voice is great!!!
  • Matthew from Middlesbrough, EnglandHer album "Surfacing" has a number of interviews and information about some of her songs. Put it in your cd rom drive and you can access all the info. More to the point, Angel is about those people who have so much to give but for whatever reason feel that they can't go on any longer. Drugs are heavily themed in the song and I'm sure she mentions Kurt Cobain as an example who fits with the songs meaning.
  • Josie from Hickory, NcI disagree. I think that the song is about never really being alone..."you're in the arms of the angel - may you find some comfort here". This is a very beautiful song; I love playing it on the piano. I think that it is also about the hardships of life, but that things always work out in the end - life is never worth giving up on.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues

Justin Hayward of The Moody BluesSongwriter Interviews

Justin wrote the classic "Nights In White Satin," but his fondest musical memories are from a different decade.

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes

Chris Robinson of The Black CrowesSongwriter Interviews

"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.

Elton John

Elton JohnFact or Fiction

Does he have beef with Gaga? Is he Sean Lennon's godfather? See if you can tell fact from fiction in the Elton John edition.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).

Chris Tomlin

Chris TomlinSongwriter Interviews

The king of Christian worship music explains talks about writing songs for troubled times.

Yacht Rock!

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.