For the music video for this song, see: My Immortal (music video)
"My Immortal" was included on their EP releases Evanescence and Mystary and on the demo CD Origin. The version placed on Origin was later included on their first studio album Fallen. The single version of the song was called "band version" because of the additional band performing the bridge and final chorus of the song.
"My Immortal" is a piano rock ballad written in slow and free tempo with 80 beats per minute. Ben Moody was inspired to write it by a previous story that happened to him. Lyrically, it talks about "a spirit staying with you after its death and haunting you until you actually wish that the spirit were gone because it won't leave you alone." Moody later revealed that the song was written for his grandfather Bill Holcomb.
Critical reception towards the song were positive with critics complimenting its piano melody. The song became Evanescence's second highest charting single, peaking within the top ten of more than ten countries. It topped the charts in Canada, Greece and Billboard's Adult Pop Songs. The single was certified Gold status by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).
An accompanying music video directed by David Mould was filmed entirely in black-and-white in Gothic Quarter, Barcelona on October 10, 2003. The video shows Lee sitting and singing on various locations, but never touching the ground. Shots of Moody are also shown but he is never together with his band or Lee, playing the piano instead. The video was nominated in the category for Best Rock Video at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards. In 2005 the band was nominated in the category for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 47th Grammy Awards for "My Immortal". The song was performed by the band during their Fallen Tour and The Open Door Tour. It was also performed live during some of their television appearances and award ceremonies such as the Billboard Music Awards.
The song was written by Ben Moody and produced by Dave Fortman; it was the fourth song to be written for Evanescence. Amy Lee's vocals and the piano parts of the song were recorded in NRG Recording Studios, California. "My Immortal" was mixed at Conway Recording Studios in North Hollywood while it was mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound in New York City. The orchestral parts in the song were arranged by the composer Graeme Revell.
"My Immortal" was originally recorded in 1997 as an outtake from the extended play (EP), Evanescence, which solely featured Amy Lee's vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a piano, and slightly different lyrics. The song was later re-recorded for the band's first demo CD, Origin, which contains a slightly rearranged piano and lyrics, including the bridge added by Lee. It was again re-recorded for the band's debut studio album, Fallen, and is featured on the EP called Mystary (2003), which is much similar to the band version. However, Wind-up Records preferred the Origin version, which was used instead with the addition of strings. Later, the song was re-recorded and released as a single in the second half of 2003, and is often referred to as the "band version," because of the additional band performing the bridge and final chorus of the song. The later pressings of Fallen contain the single version of "My Immortal" as a hidden track.
Similar to several other songs written by Moody, the lyrics are based on a short story he had previously written. According to Amy Lee, the song was "Ben [Moody]'s song." Moody said that the song talks about "a spirit staying with you after its death and haunting you until you actually wish that the spirit were gone because it won't leave you alone." He also stated in the Fallen booklet that he dedicated the song to his grandfather, Bill Holcomb. Amy Lee expressed some dissatisfaction with the early versions of it saying, "It's not even a real piano. And the sound quality is bad because we had to break into the studio to record it late at night when no one was around because we couldn't afford a real session."
"My Immortal" is a piano rock and gothic rock ballad written in the key of A major. According to the sheet music published by Alfred Music Publishing on the website Musicnotes.com, the song is set in common time and performed in slow and free tempo of 80 beats per minute. Lee's vocal range for the song runs from the musical note of A3 to C♯5. The lyrics of the song refer to a spirit that haunts the memory of a grieving loved one. In "My Immortal", Lee expresses her feelings through the line, "Though you're still with me / I've been alone all along." The song was described as a "goth-meets pop" song along with "Bring Me to Life" and "Going Under". A writer for IGN said that "'My Immortal' is a song of pain and despair caused by the loss of a family member or very close friend and how it drove her [Lee] to the edge of insanity." Sputnikmusic compared Evanescence's other song "Breathe No More" of their live album Anywhere But Home (2004) with "My Immortal". A writer of IGN compared "Good Enough", a song by the band's second studio album The Open Door with "My Immortal". The composition of Katy Perry's song "Not Like the Movies" (2010) has also been compared to "My Immortal" and Britney Spears' "Everytime" (2003). Talking about the composition and the meaning of the song, Tom Reynolds of The Guardian said, ["My Immortal" is] A whimpering post-breakup tune in which lead singer Amy Lee pitifully mourns the end of a relationship over a piano accompaniment that sounds like Pachelbel after the Prozac wore off. My Immortal closely follows the "quantum tragedy paradigm": the shorter the time two people spent together as a couple, the more overwrought the song is that describes their break-up. Judging by the lorry-load of anguish Lee spews out, she split from someone she dated for about an hour (if her lyrics are to be believed, the guy was a real freak, too).
The song is considered the band's second most successful single of all time, generally peaking within the top 20 of more than 10 countries internationally. On the chart issue dated April 10, 2004, "My Immortal" peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while on the Pop Songs chart it peaked at number 2 on March 27, 2004. It has peaked at number 19 on the Adult Contemporary chart as well. Later on February 17, 2009, "My Immortal" was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling more than 500,000 copies in the United States. The song managed to top the charts of Canada, Greece and Billboard's Adult Pop Songs in the United States. It also helped Fallen to move from number 9 to number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling another 69.000 copies. On Billboard's Radio Songs the song peaked at number 7 on April 10, 2004. Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems placed the song at number six on the list of most played radio songs in 2004 with 317,577 spins.
On the Australian Singles Chart, "My Immortal" debuted at number 4 on January 25, 2004 which later became its peak position. The next eleven weeks, it remained in the top ten of the chart, and it was seen on the chart at number 44 on the week ending June 13, 2004. Later, the single received Platinum certification by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). On December 20, 2003, "My Immortal" debuted at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart which later became its peak position. However, on February 14, 2004 the song dropped out of the chart, before reentering at number 84 on July 18, 2008. After spending several weeks on different positions on the UK Rock Chart, on August 27, 2011, it peaked at number one. The next week, "My Immortal" moved to number two being replaced by the band's single "What You Want" (2011), and one week later it returned at number one on the chart. That achievement helped the song to reenter on the UK Singles Chart at number 81 on August 27, 2011 and at number 89 on October 22, 2011.
Covers and usage in media
"My Immortal" was featured on the soundtrack Daredevil: The Album from the movie Daredevil (2003) along with "Bring Me To Life". The song was also used in the first episode "No Such Thing as Vampires" of the American series Moonlight. "My Immortal" was played at the funeral of Rifleman Peter Aldridge, the 250th British soldier to die in Afghanistan, on January 20, 2010. Lucy Walsh, a contestant of the show Rock the Cradle covered the song during the 105th episode, "Judge's Picks".
Fallen, Mystary EP, Acoustic, Band and Origin Version
Evanescence EP version (Earliest)