For the music video for this song, see: Lithium (music video)
"Lithium" is a song on the second studio album, The Open Door. It serves as the second single for the album. An alternate, stripped-down version was released on the band's fourth studio album, Synthesis.
Lithium is a psychiatric drug used as a mood stabilizer, often prescribed to people with bipolar disorder and/or mood swings, along with other mood disorders.
Amy on the meaning of the song:
"It's not literal, it's not literal about the drug for me, I've never taken lithium before. It's sort of a metaphor about numbness and happiness and sort of like, it's me looking at happiness in a negative way because I've always been, you know, kind of afraid to be happy. Like with the band and the art and everything else, it's always like I'm never letting myself break through into the happiness it seems like, because it's not cool or something. And describing happiness is lithium, it's like saying 'that's numbness, I won't be able to be an artist anymore if I'm happy,' which is hilarious because that's just not true, I'm happy. So it's like this fight within the song of like 'do I do this and get out of here and get happy or do i wallow in it like I always do?' and it's cool because at the end of the song I say 'I'm going to let it go,' like I am going to be happy."
She told in an interview with a Australian newspaper:
"It's about the choice between the comfort of sorrow and the possibility of happiness," Lee says. "I let sorrow be an excuse to make music. I put it out there and I get satisfaction from the song. But I'm getting a little older and wiser and I don't want to be stuck in this cycle forever."
She gave another explanation in late 2006:
”Lithium’ is definitely a metaphor,’ explained Lee. ‘I felt like I was in love with my sorrow. I get into these moods where I write music. It’s not about so much about being depressed ‘ it’s just the strange low that I ride. But at the same time I want to be free and break through and be happy. I think that was kind of me, getting ready to play [and saying], ‘That’s it, drop the ball and just change and move on.’
The music video for "Lithium" was shot in late October of 2006, and released sometime late November and was directed
by Paul Fedor. The setting has a winter scenery. It features two Amys: one lurks in a nearby body of water, and is labeled the "sad Amy"; the other is "happy Amy", who wears a white dress and serves as the main focus for the video. The two Amys struggle coexisting with each other. The video also features the rest of the band members including new member Tim McCord, all dressed in black. The archetypes used are symbolic to bipolar disorder.
- “There's the me in all white and it's really wintry, and then there's the all-in-black Amy under the surface of the water of this lake in the forest. So it's the happiness and the sorrow and we're almost singing to each other, trying to figure out how both of us can work.”
- ―Amy Lee
Entertainment Weekly noted that "Addicted to love, Lee explores addiction itself" and "tortured Queensrÿche-style pain strummer Lithium. Rob Sheffield added that "Lithium" is her ode to Kurt Cobain. The Independent was positive by listing it as one of standouts and writing "his third album is wreathed in the genre staples of black-clad, mascara'd gloom, a mood best captured on "Lithium", where singer Amy Lee claims, "I want to stay in love with my sorrow/ Oh, but God I want to let it go". Canada.com claims that "Lithium" is the equivalent of Fallen's "My Immortal". Stephen Thomas Erlewine highlighted and called this song "the churning 'Lithium', which most certainly is not a cover of Nirvana's classic (that song never mentioned its title, this repeats it incessantly) -- and in their place is the epic gothic rock (not quite the same thing as goth rock, mind you) that made Lee rock's leading witchy woman of the new millennium".
- "Amy Lee gets it off her chest". October 16, 2006. The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Amy Lee Talks About Evanescence’s Hit Album, The Open Door, And Her Songwriting". November 15, 2006. Songwriter Universe.