The story behind Lewis Capaldi’s breakthrough song Someone You Loved

When Lewis Capaldi's hit Someone You Loved topped the charts it propelled the Scottish singer into the stratosphere. This is the story of how it came about and the legacy it had raising awareness of organ donation

A year ago Lewis Capaldi hit the top of the UK charts with Someone You Loved and since then it’s become an anthem for our age, constantly on the radio or being belted out by buskers across the country.

When it was released, Lewis Capaldi spoke to The Big Issue about the inspiration behind the song.

He said: “I’d been sitting on the song for quite some time, melody-wise. I wanted to write a song not specific to relationship loss, which so far I’ve covered quite a bit – almost exclusively. I thought, I can’t write another song about being heartbroken, I wanted a song that was more general in terms of loss, someone being so prevalent in your day-to-day life just suddenly not being there anymore.

“Nowadays it’s less of an eye-opener when people want to do something serious and more meaningful, if you will. For me, I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s a very new thing for me as well. Plus my previous video was me as a stripper so I thought this one should be a bit more a serious.”

Capaldi settled on organ donation as the serious issue (“There was something about this particular cause that over the last couple of months became more and more present in my thoughts”) and enlisted his dad’s second cousin, who just happens to be ex-Doctor and ex-spin doctor Peter Capaldi, to star in the music video.

The video depicts the senior Capaldi playing a widower, seen nursing his dying wife in flashbacks before he visits the family of the woman who received her heart as a transplant, meaning he is able to hear his wife’s heartbeat once more.

The video immediately struck a chord, reaching over one million views in the two days. A year on it has been watched a staggering 93 million times.

More and more people leave their comments about how the subject has touched their lives:

“My 21-year-old son is currently in heart failure, they haven’t put him on the transplant list as of yet…” “The women with the scar in the middle of her chest is me. I have a scar about that big that goes in the middle of my chest and it’s because I had my thymus gland removed…” “I have had a donor card in my wallet for 20+ years but not until today have I seen such a connection through vision and music for this amazing cause…” “Why did no one warn me this would leave me sobbing uncontrollably?”

Humanising tragic circumstances is at the heart of the video, and Peter Capaldi’s performance does this subtly but spectacularly.

“We were at the record label and I was explaining what I wanted to do to raise awareness with this video,” Lewis explains. “They were like, well what do we do to make sure as many people see it as possible? One of the ideas was to check on Instagram or Twitter to see if there’s anybody who follows that’s been in any films or TV.

“Very flippantly I was like, ‘We could ask Peter Capaldi’. My manager had his email from when he came down to the show last year, he emailed and literally the next day, my manager gets a phone call from Peter saying, ‘Mate, I’d love to do this, send me over the script, I’d be honoured to be involved.’

“He smashed it. The video is what it is because of him.”

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Peter Capaldi told The Big Issue why he was keen to take part: “Lewis is an amazing talent (I’m not just saying that because of his name – Capaldi or not, he’s remarkable), and I was happy to draw attention to organ donation,” he said.

“It’s beautifully made and the song is an instant classic.”

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Lewis Capaldi and Peter Capaldi

The video started a conversation about organ donation that urgently needs to be had. In the UK, over 6,000 people are currently are waiting a life-altering transplant, but three people die each day.

Lewis Capaldi explained: “In the past people didn’t really want to talk about it because it makes you think about your own mortality, but over the last couple of years it’s definitely become less taboo. Stuff like mental health has become less stigmatised, I think it’s in the same bracket.

“People who listen to my music are predominantly between 12 and their mid-30s, and I thought maybe I can play some small part in raising awareness.”

Capaldi partnered with organ donation charities whose work he had heard about through his mother, a neurological nurse.

“My mum’s never been shy about telling me things about the NHS,” Capaldi said. “It’s more like learning about people, the conversations she’s had. Obviously she doesn’t disclose any medical information, but it humanises the whole situation.”

Capaldi was also inspired by a fan he met at one of his shows, Jim Lynskey.

“Jim actually came to one of my shows in Glasgow, just a young guy much like myself raising awareness of people like himself,” Capaldi said.

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Jim Lynskey with Lewis Capaldi. Jim helped inspire Capaldi's video for Someone You Loved

Just after he was born, Lynskey contracted viral meningitis, which led to the enlargement and weakening of his heart. At the age of eight, Jim suffered consecutive cardiac arrests and his condition worsened again at 17. He was placed on the transplant list at 19 but died in May last year, at the age of only 23, still waiting for a new heart.

Lewis Capaldi paid tribute, posting on social media: “A few months ago some of you may remember I partnered with an organisation called Save9Lives (alongside Live Life, Give Life) on the video for Someone You Loved. Save9Lives was set up by Jim Lynskey who was himself awaiting a heart transplant while raising awareness of the importance of organ donation and its ability to save countless lives.

“Sadly, last week, Jim passed away at the age 23 and I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to head over to Save9Lives.com to read about the amazing work Jim was doing and try to help in any way you can.”

Alongside The Big Issue’s interview with Lewis Capaldi about Someone You Loved, we spoke to Jim Lynskey about what he wants people to be more aware of. His message was for people to talk to their loved ones about organ donation.

“There are cases, unfortunately, where young people die and their organs aren’t received because the conversation hasn’t been had and families don’t know what to do.

Jim Lynskey organ donation Caters
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“Talk about the subject. A lot of people will have, given that opt-out both in Scotland and in England is pending. It’s more vital than ever to talk about your wishes with your loved ones. Families can override consent of organ donation if that conversation hasn’t been had.

“The most important thing, as well as signing up, is talking about it among families and friends just to make it clear that what you want to do is made known.”

Find out more about Jim’s charity save9lives.com

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