The Midnight – “Shadows” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

“Shadows” by The Midnight talks about internal conflict, regrets, and the weight of unsaid words. The song paints a picture of a city at night, where shadows represent one’s past mistakes and things left unsaid. It’s a reflection on lost opportunities and the inner demons we all battle. The singer recalls a moment of hesitation, when instead of saying “I love you”, he said “goodbye”. This choice and other regrets haunt him, like shadows following him through the city.

If you’ve ever felt haunted by past choices or battled inner demons, stick with us. You’ll find “Shadows” speaks to these universal experiences in ways you might not have considered.


“Shadows” Lyrics Meaning

The opening lines paint an evocative image of a city’s skyline reflecting on the ocean, merging the natural world with urban life. The description of the city as “lonely and holy” sets a somber and reflective mood. Here, the city symbolizes life, full of bustling activities but also solitude and introspection.

The “shadow void of form” rising from the “dirty black water” is a powerful symbol of regret emerging from past actions, casting a dark silhouette on present life. This shadow is not just a physical entity but represents the weight of guilt, past mistakes, and internal battles.

The lyrics “Neon on black top, There’s gentle rain downtown” creates a sense of melancholy, a backdrop against which the singer recalls a significant personal moment. This moment – the choice to say “goodbye” instead of “I love you” – symbolizes missed opportunities. Regret is palpable, as the shadow of that choice continues to haunt him.

The chorus, “Shadows in the city, I’m a stranger to myself” emphasizes a sense of disconnection from oneself due to one’s mistakes. The feeling of being “someone else” on the streets indicates that these past actions have changed the singer, and he struggles to recognize himself.

The “demon in the dark” trying to tear them apart further amplifies the feeling of internal conflict. The singer’s good intentions are overshadowed by his mistakes, causing pain to those around him. His apologies come too late, and the shadow of regret slips away, suggesting it will always be present, looming.

The Story Behind “Shadows”

Songwriting is often a reflection of personal experiences or emotions. For “Shadows”, while the exact inspiration hasn’t been explicitly stated by The Midnight, it’s clear that the theme of regret and reflection resonates universally.

The city, with its vastness and loneliness, often acts as a backdrop for introspection. Urban life can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and estrangement, even amidst the crowd. Drawing from this setting, the song crafts a narrative of lost moments and opportunities.

It’s plausible that the songwriter was going through a period of introspection when penning this track. The lyrics strongly suggest moments in life where one is haunted by actions of the past. Such feelings are common in moments of transition, perhaps after a failed relationship, a missed opportunity, or simply during moments of self-doubt.

In creating “Shadows”, The Midnight taps into these universal feelings, giving voice to the silent regrets that many of us carry. The imagery of the city at night, shadows, and neon lights, serves to highlight the contrast between our public selves and the internal battles we face privately.