Scottish singer-songwriter Tom Walker’s 2017 song, “Leave a Light On,” is a powerful reminder that there are people out there who care. Anyone grappling with grief, addiction, or mental health issues will take comfort in the chorus’s repeated assurance that “I will leave a light on.”
Building up to this promise, the pre-chorus offers a glimpse of hope:
If you look into the distance, there’s a house upon the hill
Guiding like a lighthouse
To a place where you’ll be safe to feel our grace
‘Cause we’ve all made mistakes
If you’ve lost your way
Walker Drew on Personal Struggles to Write “Leave a Light On”
In a 2018 interview with Idolator, Walker said that the song was “about a friend of mine who was struggling with addiction.” With preventable drug overdoses skyrocketing in the U.S. and elsewhere, Walker’s fear for his friend is highly understandable. Still, Walker noted that “everybody I know, myself included, at some point in their lives has struggled with some form of addiction, whether it be drinking too much or eating too much.”
In addition, Walker’s aunt, who was only in her 40s at the time, had recently died. “Two of my cousins were left without a mother,” Walker said, which prompted him to pen the song with songwriter and producer Steve Mac. “It’s just something I needed to write, perhaps selfishly to make me feel better. It was almost like a little therapy session.”
I know you’re down and out now, but I need you to be braveHiding from the truth ain’t gonna make this all okay I see your pain If you don’t feel our grace and you’ve lost your way
Well, I will leave the light onI will leave the light on ‘Cause I will leave the light on
Whether or not Walker’s motivation was selfish, the song has clearly had a significant impact on others encountering difficulties. Commentors on the official YouTube video shared that it has helped them through suicidal thoughts, drug addictions, grief, bereavement, and recovery. Several people noted that they listened to it on repeat.
“I just wanted to write this song for my family and my friends to let them know that we can talk about it,” Walker said. “I like to highlight the everyday struggle of life.”
Struggling or not, you may take comfort from watching the official video for “Leave a Light On” below.