“Love” is a profoundly cynical take on romance that emphasizes how many relationships can be reduced to self-interest. The lyrics focus on how convenience, circumstances, chance, and other undeliberate factors can play just as much of a part in relationships as more romantic ones. Despite its dark perspective, this song offers a glimmer of redeemability in that it recognizes how tragic these realities are.
Little is known about the creative process that went into the creation of “Love.” The song’s existence certainly predates the recording on Noise Complaint, and it’s been a fan-favorite for many years. According to Koe Wetzel and Parker McCollum, the track is based on a certain “stripper from San Angelo, Texas.”
In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these heartbreaking lyrics to discover their intended meaning. We’ll also take a look at what inspired the song and the human themes that make it impactful for so many. Without further ado, let’s get started!
The lyrics begin with a gut-punch line: “To say I’ve been missin’ you… is the worst thing possible.” Not exactly very romantic, eh? That’s precisely the point – this is anything but a fairy tale. Even the prospect of sleeping “one more night” next to this person repulses the narrator, who calls this “out of the question.” Nonetheless, he’s found himself here.
Despite this seemingly vulnerable position, he’s quick to build certain walls. One of them is to forbid any “questions, like if I [narrator] love you.” His reason? “I don’t.” How’s that for straightforward? This blunt and unaffectionate tone contrasts harshly with the song’s title, which serves to make the point more clear.
The chorus gets to the heart of the message while revealing a certain twinge of regret in the narrator. He admits, “I don’t love you,” but his reasoning is self-deprecating. After all, his “selfish” nature prevents him from loving her like she “should be loved.” Nonetheless, he views the situation as being deterministic. Change does not seem to be on the horizon.
Verse two takes it to an even darker place. We see that the song’s recipient threatens to commit suicide, but the narrator simply tells her it “won’t change a ******* thing.” If she needs help, he’s happy to refer her to “a place down the street,” but the last thing on his mind is helping her himself.
Verse three continues driving home the narrator’s coldness. Even though “it’s been raining for five full days” (which may have metaphorical meaning rather than being purely literal), he’s chosen now as the time to dump his indifference on her. The message is harsh, the timing is harsh, and the tone is harsh, but he just can’t seem to care.
After another chorus (in which the narrator again admits to his selfishness), we get a final verse. In it, the listener is shown a picture of the conversation’s aftermath. A “broken heart and a bullet mark” is all she left when she walked away, so it’s safe to say things did not go well. The narrator refuses to ask himself if he cares, relying on his previous excuse (“Don’t ask me no questions”).
I also think it’s important to note that this is the verse where the singer changes. We switch from Wetzel to McCollum after the hard conversation has already taken place. This gives McCollum the role of a narrator; he’s objectively describing events that have happened.
After this, the chorus repeats until the song closes. This leaves us to wonder if the narrator will change his selfish ways or continue in them. In summary, “Love” is about realizing a relationship is built on anything but love and the consequences of admitting it. The honesty of the lyrics has to be a big part of the track’s success.
Parker McCollum and Koe Wetzel haven’t said much about the origins of this fan-favorite. They have revealed, at a live show in the Bahamas, that it was inspired by a “stripper from San Angelo, Texas.” Other than this, the duo has been relatively laconic. Perhaps this is a result of the difficult subject matter.
Since a stripper was in mind when this song was being written, it makes sense that the song explores themes of selfishness and heartlessness. Strippers are often used and cast aside; love seldom enters the equation. When it does, it’s usually delusional – this is precisely the delusion our narrator refuses to participate in throughout the lyrics.
Evidently, the fans have seriously appreciated the tragically honest tone of the track. “Love” has racked up approximately 10 million views on YouTube alone and seriously helped drive up sales for Noise Complaint. Critically and commercially, this one can only be called a success.
The next time you play this sobering tune, let these pieces of background information bring it to life!