One theme that has inspired songwriters across lots of different genres is ‘Light.’ Perhaps it’s because it can represent hope, love, inspiration, or even the divine. Or maybe, it’s the literal connotation of illumination, casting away shadows and darkness. Whatever the reasons, light has inspired some of the greatest musical masterpieces of all time.
In this blog post, we are going to take a look at 23 of the best songs about light spanning all genres, from classic rock to old-time country and even gospel children’s music. Let’s get started.
1. “I Can See Clearly Now” By Johnny Nash
This song is so ingrained in our lives through the numerous times it has been used in film and television that many people think it is older than it is. “I Can See Clearly Now” was released in 1972 on Johnny Nash’s album of the same name.
The title does not have the word light. But the lyrics say, “It’s gonna be a bright (bright)/Bright (bright) sunshiny day.” The image of a sunny day taking all the bad feelings away is clear.
The song is versatile in that it is simply about happiness and hopefulness. The singer is not speaking about a lover or anything in particular. In that respect, it is a song about being happy without questioning why.
2. “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” By Vicki Lawrence
Our next song with “lights” in the lyrics is Vicki Lawrence‘s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” This track is a southern gothic murder ballad about a cheating spouse and revenge. It is one example where the light in the title refers to darkness.
When you listen to the song, you hear about a man going home after being away for two weeks. He drops by the bar for a drink or two and finds out from his best friend Andy that his wife had cheated on him with Andy and a guy named Seth.
The man gets a gun to kill Andy, but the latter is already dead when he finds him. He gets arrested and hanged. It’s only later in the song that it becomes clear that the singer is the man’s sister. She is the one responsible for Andy’s death. And, surprise, surprise, she was also the one who killed his wife.
3. “Neon Lights” By Demi Lovato
If you’ve ever felt like igniting a spark with someone, you can relate to Demi Lovato‘s “Neon Lights.” The song tells us to enjoy what we have while it lasts.
In the lyrics, Lovato sings, “Shining like stars ’cause we’re beautiful, we’re beautiful right now.” It talks about one’s compatibility with someone she likes. At the moment, he’s all she sees “in all these places” and “in all these faces.” This means that thoughts of him fill her mind all the time.
And so she’s not going to wait another moment. She tells him, “Let’s pretend we’re running out of time.” It forces her to act and do something about the attraction she feels for him.
4. “Blinded By The Light” By Bruce Springsteen
Up next is a song with “light” in the title. Bruce Springsteen‘s “Blinded by the Light” was released in 1973 from his Greetings from Asbury Park album.
The song is an autobiographical telling of his childhood playing Little League baseball. He uses so many symbols that the meaning is cloudy to many who hear it.
It has also become infamous as an example of misheard lyrics. Many people do not understand the lyrics, “Cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night,” when they first hear them. They think that “deuce” is a “douche.” The things people think the Boss is saying are rather funny.
5. “Here Comes The Sun” By The Beatles
The 1969 album Abbey Road by the Beatles is a seminal piece of music history for many rock and roll fans. Every song from it has become a favorite. “Here Comes the Sun,” performed by lead guitarist George Harrison is no different.
Harrison famously wrote the song during a dark period of his life as he was looking into a hopeful future. He came up with the iconic words and melody while playing hooky from a Beatles business meeting at his friend Eric Clapton’s country estate.
The song begins with the line, “Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo, here comes the sun, and I say, it’s alright.” As you listen to the rest of the lyrics, you’ll discover that it is about hope. We may go through difficult times like a long cold winter. But the season changes and the sun eventually appears.
Related: Check out our list of famous Beatles songs here.
6. “Blinding Lights” By The Weeknd
If you love listening to songs through streaming devices, you’ve probably come across the Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights.” The song, released in 2019, was a hit in the US and stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks.
When you first listen to the song, it will give you the idea that it is about the rekindling of a relationship. The singer has been on his own “for long enough.” He misses her, and so he “hit the road in overdrive.” The blinding lights in the lyrics refer to the streetlights that blind him on his way to her.
The Weeknd himself admitted that the song has a dark undertone. He says that the guy is drunk and misses this person, probably an ex. So he drives over to see her. The Weeknd clarifies that he does not promote drunk driving.
7. “This Little Light Of Mine” By Listener Kids
From the lyrics, it is clear that this song mentions “light” in relation to faith. “This Little Light of Mine” by the Listener Kids is often sung for children. It is a spiritual song about the light of God in someone’s life.
The singer says that they will let that light shine and that nothing will ever be able to put it out. Some lines are repeated over verses, making it ideal for kids who can’t memorize complicated words.
The song has unclear origins, with the first known appearance being in a book of poetry from the 1920s. The lyrics have remained nearly the same over the decades. But some singers like to add contemporary verses to help children of the time identify with them.
8. “Walking On Sunshine” By Katrina And The Waves
The British rock band Katrina and the Waves may be best known for “Walking on Sunshine.” Released in 1985 on the album of the same name, the song reached #9 on the charts in the U.S.
“Walking on Sunshine” finds a resurgence every few years. It gets used widely in film and television, keeping it at the forefront of our memories for the past 37 years.
The track is a happy, upbeat song about new beginnings. Specifically, we can’t forget the lines, “I’m walking on sunshine, wooah, And don’t it feel good! Hey, alright now.” These words reflect one’s feelings when deep in love.
9. “One More Light” By Linkin Park
This song from Linkin Park‘s 2017 album of the same name has a sad origin. Written by Mike Shinoda and Eg White, “One More Light” describes a friend who died after a sudden bout with cancer.
While the song is sad, the message it brings is one of hope. The band sings, “Who cares if one more light goes out?… Well, I do.” “One more light,” in this case, is a metaphor for life. Thus, the song tells us that every life matters.
It is also about how the most important thing you can do is bond with the people you love. To appreciate the ones around you before, “one more light goes out.”
10. “Darkness And Light” By John Legend
Lead singer Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes teamed up with John Legend for this song. “Darkness and Light” was released in 2016 from the album of the same name.
Legend talked about the ideas that led to the song in several interviews. According to him, the world is riddled with darkness and pain. We face conflict left and right.
However, the desire is always there to find light and joy in the midst of it. Despite the darkness and difficulties, we show optimism by enjoying life in the moment.
11. “Morning Light” By Justin Timberlake And Alicia Keys
The song finds the singer waking up, “layin’ here, in a morning light.” He is next to the person he loves after spending the night with her. We can tell how much he enjoys her company, as he wants to be with her “just one more night.”
But then the lyrics say, “‘Cause I’m in love with you,” which explains the contentment he feels in her arms.
12. “Pocketful Of Sunshine” By Natasha Bedingfield
If you’re looking for a song about female empowerment, give “Pocketful of Sunshine” a try. Here, Natasha Bedingfield is singing about escaping all your troubles.
From the lyrics, we can tell that the girl has had a challenging life and isn’t happy. But something happens, making her realize that no one can break or control her. Because now she’s “got a pocketful of sunshine” and love.
Along with this realization, she is doing what makes her happy. The line “the sun is on my side” is a statement of her new positive mindset.
Related: Check out our songs about the sun post here.
13. “I Saw The Light” By Hank Williams
Country music singer Hank Williams was well-known for his songs about drinking. But occasionally, he was inspired to write gospel music, such as the 1948 “I Saw the Light.”
There was a little story about how Williams came up with the title. His mother was driving them to the next tour destination. When she told him, “I saw the light,” she meant they were near the airport.
The phrase gave Williams an idea for a song that used citations from the gospels and the book of Revelation. It was the prayer of someone who had fallen away from God and seeking redemption.
14. “Lights” By Ellie Goulding
While some may interpret Ellie Goulding‘s “Lights” as about suicide, it’s about something positive. The song was the lead single in her 2010 album of the same name.
“Lights” was inspired by Goulding’s childhood fear of the dark. In fact, she would sleep with her two siblings because she couldn’t sleep alone. She only felt safe when she was with them.
In the chorus, the singer refers to a person who helps her overcome her fears. This person shines the light to chase the darkness away, being there when she needs them the most.
15. “Green Light” By Lorde
From Lorde‘s Melodrama album is the opening track “Green Light.” With its anecdotes, symbolism, and metaphor, the song is about moving on.
In the lyrics, we find the singer dealing with heartbreak following the end of her relationship. She expresses her disappointment with promises of staying in love that never materialized.
With all the emotions that come with heartbreak, she finds it difficult to move on. It doesn’t stop her from wishing that it’s easy to “just let go.” Still, she’s waiting for the “green light” so that she can move on from him.
16. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” By The Smiths
The English rock band The Smiths released “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” in 1986 from their album The Queen is Dead.
The song was, by all means, the lead singer Morrissey’s work. Many of his songs feature depressed characters, and we see one here. In the lyrics, the singer asks an unnamed person to take him somewhere with music and people. He doesn’t want to go home because he doesn’t have one. In fact, he begs her to take him anywhere but home.
This tells us that he is a teenager or a young adult who doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere. It makes him want to enjoy the moment, like most people his age. He could be going through social anxiety, but he wants to overcome it by meeting people.
17. “I See The Light” By Mandy Moore And Zachary Levi
Listeners first heard of “I See the Light” as a soundtrack of the 2010 Disney film Tangled. The song was a duet by singer and actress Mandy Moore and actor Zachary Levi. It won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media in 2012.
“I See the Light” was written to show the developing romance between the characters Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. Rapunzel sings about her past, in which she spent years looking into the distance from the tower where she lived. Flynn, meanwhile, talks about chasing daydreams and realizing Rapunzel is the one for him.
In the chorus, both characters sing of finding the light. It makes them feel as if “the fog has lifted” and that “the sky is new.” It gives them positive feelings about things around them and especially about what they mean to each other.
18. “New Light” By John Mayer
Up next is John Mayer’s “New Light.” The song was released in 2021 from his album Sob Rock and explores themes of unrequited love and asking for a chance.
From the lyrics, we can tell that the singer is love-drunk for a woman who is, unfortunately, uninterested. Or maybe he was just unaware of his feelings for her. Either way, she doubts him and doesn’t give him the time of day.
He proposes that she give him “just one night” so she can get to know him and see him “in a new light.”
19. “Be A Light” By Thomas Rhett Ft. Hillary Scott, Reba McEntire, Chris Tomlin, Keith Urban
In a world full of negativity and pessimism, Thomas Rhett leaves a lasting message in “Be a Light.” The country song is a collaboration with various artists such as Hillary Scott, Reba McEntire, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban.
Rhett was inspired to write the song after observing too much hate on social media. Hate is everywhere, and we seem to forget how to be kind to each other. The singers propose the simple idea of being the light instead of adding fuel to all the hate and meanness.
The singers further encourage listeners to choose to do the positive in the face of negativity. In wars and battles, let us “be peace.” If things need changes, let us “make a difference.” When we sin against someone, “make it right.”
20. “Flashlight” By Jessie J
Life is tough. But someone who’s there to help you through the ups and downs makes all the difference. Jessie J pays tribute to this kind of person in her 2015 song “Flashlight.”
Not knowing what tomorrow brings causes anxiety. Going through challenges is frightening. But we are lucky if we have someone, whether that’s family or a partner, who doesn’t leave our side.
We are confident in the thought that even if we are at our worst, we have someone to help us get through it. In short, they are like a “flashlight” that guides us out of the dark.
21. “Bright Lights” By Matchbox Twenty
Our next song on the list is Matchbox Twenty‘s “Bright Lights.” This was released in 2002 from their album More than You Think You Are.
The song follows a man whose lover dreams of being an actress and leaves in pursuit of it. Though he loves her and hates her leaving, he lets her go. With her away in New York, he feels alone as he faces another day.
Despite her choosing her career over him, he still wishes the best for her. And “if the bright lights don’t receive you,” he’ll be waiting for her to come back to him. To their home.
22. “Leave A Light On” By Tom Walker
Scottish singer-songwriter Tom Walker rose to fame with the release of “Leave a Light On.” The song was an international success and peaked at #7 on the UK Singles chart in 2018.
Walker was inspired to write the song about a friend who was dealing with drug addiction. That person was at a difficult time, and Walker wanted him to know that no matter what his friend was going through, he’ll be there.
In the lyrics, the singer talks about a “house upon the hill, guiding like a lighthouse.” And should the friend, or anyone going through a dark time, need help, he will leave a light on to let them know that he’s there for them.
23. “You Light Up My Life” By Debby Boone
One of the most successful songs of the ’70s was “You Light Up My Life.” Instrumental to that success was the singer Debby Boone, whose cover of the song brought commercial success and acclaim. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and peaked at #4 on Hot Country Singles.
Lyrics-wise, the song is an ode to someone who means the world to the singer. She used to feel lonely and hides in the dark. She shares her dreams with no one. But all things change when her potential love interest comes into her life.
His presence brings light and hope to her life. Now her dark days are gone, and she no longer feels lonely.
Summing Up Our List Of Light Songs
As you can see from our songs above, the concept of light opens many avenues for songwriters and musicians. Whether they are old or new musicians, their songs are a testimony of the influence light has on them.
A lot of imagery can be brought up by thinking about light. Pretty sure you have your own experiences where light has been the central theme.
We hope that you have found new songs from our list that remind you of that experience. We suggest that you create a playlist of these songs so you can go back to them on those days you need a guiding light.