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Behind the Meaning of “Ghost” by Justin Bieber

May 30, 2023
ghost meaning

“Ghost” is a poignant and reflective track from Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber’s sixth studio album, Justice, released in 2021.

The song was written by Bieber, Andrew Watt, Ali Tamposi, Louis Bell, and Jon Bellion and produced by Watt and Bell.

It features Bieber’s signature falsetto vocals over a minimalistic instrumental track consisting of a simple piano melody and subtle percussion.

The song departs from Bieber’s usual upbeat and energetic pop tracks and explores the theme of grief and loss.

Fans and critics have interpreted the song as a powerful ballad about loss, grief, and the pain of letting go.

This article will explore the meaning and interpretation of the song “Ghost.”

“Ghost” Lyrics

“Ghost” lyrics describe the feeling of being haunted by memories of a past relationship, even though the relationship is over.

[Verse 1]
Youngblood thinks there’s always tomorrow.
I miss your touch some nights when I’m hollow.
I know you crossed a bridge that I can’t follow.
Since the love that you left is all that I get, I want you to know

That if I can’t be close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you
I miss you more than life (More than life)
And if you can’t be next to me, your memory is ecstasy.
I miss you more than life; I miss you more than life

[Verse 2]
Youngblood thinks there’s always tomorrow.
I need more time, but time can’t be borrowed.
I’d leave it all behind if I could follow.
Since the love that you left is all that I get, I want you to know

More than life (Oh)

Bieber sings about how he can’t escape the memories of his past love, even though he’s tried.

He feels trapped in a cycle of pain and can’t move on.

“I miss you more than life” is one of the lines that sticks with listeners.

However, grief can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

“Ghost”‘s songwriters have quickly pointed out that this song should be relatable to everyone on various levels.

Official Meaning Behind the Song Lyrics

“Ghost” is about losing a loved one, most likely because they have died.

Bieber sings, “I know you crossed a bridge that I can’t follow.”

However, “Ghost” does not serve solely as an elegy.

The song can provide solace to individuals who are suffering from the effects of long-distance or separation.

The song is about “losing somebody you love,” Bieber told Vogue in 2021.

I believe that many people living in this day and age are losing loved ones as a result of this insane virus.

The hook says, ‘If I can’t get close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you.’

That works for this quarantine situation […] we’re not connecting and relating in the same way.

It has only allowed us to have these memories.

I hope this resonates with you and fills your heart with joy or comfort in some way.”

“‘Ghost’ is an exceptional record,” Bieber stated in a later 2021 interview.

“My aim of writing this song was to make people feel like there is hope and that the trauma and hurt they are experiencing will not last forever.”

Healing takes time.

There will come a day when the agony wouldn’t hurt so bad.

Know that the feeling will pass.”

For Bellion, “Ghost” represented a more tangible loss of a loved one.

Bellion took to Twitter in 2022 to reveal who he thinks of when “Ghost” comes on.

“Wrote this one about my grandmother,” he said.

“It’s cool to feel her every time I turn on the car radio.”

“Grandma, I miss you.”

The Singer

Bieber’s grandfather died in early 2021, and anybody who has experienced such a loss understands how terrible and life-changing it can be for the family left behind.

“Ghost” hits home with terrifying precision for those who have experienced the death of a loved one.

However, the singer does not believe the track’s value ends there. 

In interviews, he stated that the song relates to the pain of missing someone who has gone but is still alive.

I miss your touch on nights when I’m hollow.

Whether it’s a breakup or divorce, a long-distance relationship, or a broken friendship, there are moments in this song that will make anyone suffering from loneliness feel seen.

Furthermore, Bieber stated that he was inspired by the pandemic’s loneliness, which forced us all to start keeping our distance.

Although hunkering down may have helped slow the spread, the singer (and the rest of us) noticed that isolation spawned its form of grief.

Knowing our loved ones are around but unable to embrace or talk to them can be heartbreaking.

The Music Video

The song video, so unique that many fans mistook it for a scene from a movie, features a young man who helps his grandmother heal after his grandfather dies.

Keaton plays the grandmother who needs Bieber to get her out of the house and help her deal with her grief.

This is a pretty good depiction of one of the song’s meanings because the sadness that follows death is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we think of grief.

This was an excellent direction for the video.

Is Ghost A Sad Song?

The interpretation of whether “Ghost” by Justin Bieber is a sad song can vary depending on the listener’s personal experience and perspective.

“Ghost” by Justin Bieber can be considered a sad song by some listeners as it deals with themes of heartbreak and loss.

One of the reasons fans love it is that it acknowledges the sadness of grief while also honoring the memory left behind. 

As a result, this song is slightly bittersweet.

Losing someone through death or other causes will always be painful.

The song, however, suggests that we can find joy in the “ghost” that remains with us in our hearts and minds.

I want you to know
That if I can’t be close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you

This song has no literal ghosts. 

Instead, the term “ghost” refers to the lingering feelings of love and loneliness that remain after someone has left us.

That emptiness is a ghost that haunts us.

When you miss someone, remembering the good times is never enough.

We are continuously looking for more.

But if the past is all we have left, we must follow the instructions on the track.

We “settle” for the past’s memory because we never want to forget our loved ones.

Cool Facts About Ghost

The song garnered positive feedback from music critics.

The Washington Post’s Allison Stewart named “Ghost” the best song on Justice, stating that the “rafter-rattling ballad” is “perfectly suited to the unique concerns of quarantine.”

The song was Bieber’s 26th top-ten hit, and he now has the 11th most top-ten entries in chart history.

Some fans speculated that Bieber is singing about his ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez.

They cite that her band, Selena Gomez & the Scene, released a song titled “Ghost Of You” in 2010.

This notion, however, conflicts with the remainder of the Justice album, which features Bieber singing about his love for his wife, Hailey.

Bieber chose the screen legend Diane Keaton to play his grandmother. 

He called Keaton, and she agreed immediately, even supplying her with clothes (including her signature hats).

She said she appreciated working on the scenes with Bieber because the director allowed her to be herself.

The song also chatted globally, finishing fifth on the Billboard Hot 100, and quickly surpassed hundreds of millions of streams.

Ghost has been hailed as a hopeful song about grief, which can be challenging to achieve. 

Instead of dwelling in misery, the music and video demonstrate that we can pay tribute to our past and grief while living our lives being grateful for what we miss.

That’s the beauty of memory, and this song brilliantly exemplifies it.

You may also like: Songs About Losing Someone

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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