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Meaning of the song ‘Let Her Go’ by ‘Passenger’

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Released: 2012

“Let Her Go” by Passenger is a deep dive into the paradoxical nature of human emotion, love, and loss – a poignant reminder of the saying ‘you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.’ This heart-wrenching ballad underscores the cruel irony that we often only realize the true magnitude of love once it’s no longer within our grasp.

The opening verse is a beautiful play on juxtapositions. Phrases like “only need the light when it’s burning low” and “only miss the sun when it starts to snow” establish a motif of longing and regret that’s echoed throughout the track. The line, “only know you love her when you let her go” is a powerful, gut-punching assertion that regret often accompanies the realization of love. These lyrical contrasts help to communicate the bitter-sweet awareness of two entirely dependent positions in the spectrum of emotional experiences: joy in relation to sorrow, home in context of travel, love in the void of loss.

The lyric, “Staring at the bottom of your glass, hoping one day you’ll make a dream last” extends the narrative of yearning. It speaks to the hope that clings to loss. Passenger subtly alludes to alcohol – the glass – a common symbol of escapism and dealing with regret, further cementing the melancholy mood of the song.

With the line, “You see her when you close your eyes,” the song delves into the realm of memory and how it keeps our lost love alive in our subconscious. The phrase “Everything you touch surely dies” is a deeply emotional expression of guilt and self-blame – a feeling that often accompanies heartbreak.

As Passenger sings, “Staring at the ceiling in the dark, same old empty feeling in your heart,” we are drawn into the universal experience of sleepless nights spent staring at the ceiling, hearts heavy with longing. The lyric, “‘Cause you loved her too much, and you dived too deep” implies an overbearing love, potentially highlighting the cause of loss, highlighting a painful truth about love – too much of it can sometimes become suffocating.

The song’s outro, with repeating lines “Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low, only hate the road when you’re missing home, only know you love her when you let her go,” forms a sorrowful crescendo that forces listener to confront the painful reality of absent things defining their presence. The song ends on a lingering note as Passenger’s heartfelt vocals echo the words “And you let her go,” emphasizing the conscious action of letting go, bringing the song full circle to its regretful core.

In its deceptively simple lyrics, “Let Her Go” beautifully encapsulates the complexity of human emotion and the aching, haunting consequences of love and loss. It’s a pop anthem in true sense; universal, touching, memorable, and evocative.

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