Waking Light
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

  1. Waking Light (5:00)
    Available on Morning Phase.
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass (Electric)
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Clavinet
    David Campbell: Conductor
    Joey Waronker: Drums
    Beck Hansen: Glockenspiel, Guitar (Electric), Organ, Piano, Producer, Synthesizer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
    Jason Falkner: Guitar (Electric)
    Ben Baptie: Mix
    Tom Elmhirst: Mix
    Matt Mahaffey: Organ
Waking Light [Version (a)]:

Waking light, your profile in shadow
Raise yourself to the morning alone
Night is gone, long way of turning
You've waited long enough to know

When the memory leaves you
Somewhere you can't make it home
When the morning comes to meet you
Lay me down in waking light

No one sees you here, roots are all covered
There's such a length to go and how much can you show?
Day is gone on a landslide a-reeling
I've seen your lamplight burning low

When the memory leaves you
Somewhere you can't make it home
When the morning comes to meet you
Rest your eyes in waking light

When the memory leaves you
Somewhere you can't make it home
When the morning comes to meet you
Fill your eyes with waking light
The Song:

"Waking Light" can be found on Beck's 2014 album, Morning Phase.

Beck has said this was one of a few songs he brought to Morning Phase from an album he had worked on in Nashville. That album never quite got to an end point, but he rescued some things from it, like "Waking Light."

To some extent, I consider this the "title track" of Morning Phase. There are many themes on the album, but the idea of refreshing and reinvigorating after a time of darkness is a main one; it seems to be expressed most directly here in "Waking Light."

Beck hints at the difficulties of the darkness, where you can easily lose yourself ("profile in shadow" and "somewhere you can't make it home"), and referring to it as a "landslide a-reeling." These are common Beck ideas throughout his career: where do you find hope when you've lost yourself? How to keep going? A lot of times, Beck has written about music being a savior, but here it's much more basic: less about what will save you and more that you will be saved. He offers it as advice: the shadows that haunt you and cover up your true self will drift away in the morning light. You will find peace.

Played live 51 times:
Earliest known live version: February 28, 2014
Latest known live version: April 7, 2023

Morning Phase tour - 2014

"Waking Light" premiered live when Beck performed it on The Tonight Show around the time Morning Phase was released. (Father John Misty sang back-up on this version too.)

Then on the tour proper, they played it at most all of the shows (44 of the 57 gigs). For reasons unknown though, the band chopped the middle instrumental and the third chorus out of the song on stage, going straight from the second chorus into the guitar solo coda. (At first, I assumed it was for TV time constraints, but they continued doing it that way all year.)

Eight months later, near the end of the tour, they also performed it on Conan O'Brien's talk show -- by this point, the song feels a little darker with a touch more aggression to it.

post-Morning Phase tours / Colors / Night Running tours - 2015-2019

"Waking Light" did not linger long in Beck's setlists after the Morning Phase tour. They played it at 3 of their first 5 shows in 2015, then it popped up once a couple months later in Copenhagen, before being dropped for good. It has not returned since.