All The Little Lights
This is a really unique song and obviously an important one as its the title track of the album . The concept is very different to anything else that I’ve written .
I don't remember how and when the idea for it formed , I just have a vague memory of coming up with the guitar part in my hostel room in Fremantle , Western Australia ….
“we’re born with millions of little lights shining in dark , and they show us the way . One lights up every time you feel love in your heart , one dies when it moves away …. we’re born with millions of little lights shining in our hearts and they die along the way , til we’re old and we’re cold and lying in the dark , for they’ll all burn out one day”
It’s kind of a sad idea when written out like that but it doesn’t feel like a sad song to me . Reflective definitely , but I hope it’s actually a song that unifies us all within our common plight .
When we’re young our lights are burning bright . There is a feeling that anything is possible . Everything lies before us with limitless potential . We don’t understand the world or the reality of things yet and dreams are allowed to live unabashed .
As we grow older , opportunities come and go and life starts to get narrower . There are cut off points that are missed and with every passing year one’s trajectory seems evermore set in stone . Of course it isn’t … and the happiest people I know have a fluidity and flexibility about them . Perhaps they have managed to keep a few more lights on than most …
The choruses are really universal whereas the verses are very specific to me .
Looking back over my catalogue this seems to be a common theme within my writing . Quite often the verses will be really detailed and tell a very direct story and the chorus will then open up with broader brush strokes and attempt to bring everyone in with a universal theme .
In this case , the verses are a series of snapshots throughout my life where I can pin point a “light” going out . Times that I’ve felt heartbroken or humiliated . Lessons that have stolen another inch of innocence , moments of growth that demand a sacrifice in return .
Here I talk about leaving home when I was seventeen and realising later that it meant the end of my childhood .
I mention my mum finding cigarettes in my bag when I was even younger than that . I lied to her and told them they were my friends and I was just keeping them for him . A moment of real shame .
A crushing afternoon spent in a Spanish airport after realising a relationship had ended .
The most poignant lines , which still feel sore whenever I sing them , are about my uncle ben .
He lived in America and growing up I would see him most summers .
He was one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met . I never saw him angry or heard him say a bad word about anybody . He accepted people as they were and loved them . He really was one of a kind and is still sorely missed by everyone in my family .
He used to take me night fishing . I remember watching the (little) lights of New Jersey sparkling on the Atlantic Ocean as the evening faded and thinking it was the most magical thing I’d ever seen …
This song has always had a similar magic about it … for me anyway …. It’s a whispered secret . Its a tiny flickering light .
I hope in some small way it helps to keep yours shining .