Sade in the video for "By Your Side". Wearing an Indian-inspired outfit, she walks through a forest.
The music video for the song was shot in Los Angeles and was directed by Sophie Muller, who revealed that it is a metaphor of Sade Adu's life. In the video, she is depicted as a mystical figure, mostly seen walking through a forest and into the city. As the singer goes through different scenarios, she gathers these lifeless things, such as a rose and a burned wood stick, and puts them in a little sack. At the end of the video, she walks into the city and we get to see her in the median of the road offering/selling the rose like a flower seller. This strange journey represents her life but "made into a beautiful, mysterious dream." This idea came when Sade was making her album. She and the music video director were driving to the studio and saw people standing in the median of the road selling flowers. At that sight, Sophie thought "it was so sad to be constantly rejected by these cars " and thought "Well, it’s not such a bad job to be looking at beautiful flowers all day." From this came the concept of someone who has been away, and was just standing offering a flower to someone. At the time, eight years had passed since the group last released an album. When we see her as a flower seller at the end of the video, it represents her offering the band's latest album, Lovers Rock, to the world. As far as direction is concerned, Sophie Muller said that "she (Sade) had not done anything in eight years—there had not even been a photograph taken of her. I think I was being protective the day we did it; I did not want to push her to do something incredibly difficult, but wanted to ease her back in." The video contains very extreme and vivid colors, which were inspired by Chinese and Indian films as well as Japanese masters. Specifically, the pale green light was influenced by Indian over-saturated imagery. This is because the director wanted each bit to be different and "wanted to make it like reality, but more beautiful". For example, the forest was meant to be like a forest, but a bit more peaceful than a real one would be. Not many special effects were used in the making of the video. Everything was built to look the way it does. The only visual effect is the huge field where she is seen walking. For it, a little field was built and painted all around her. And there was a little green screen, when she walks towards the city.