Sade – “Is It a Crime?” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

At its core, Sade’s “Is It a Crime?” is a poignant exploration of unrequited love. The song uses potent metaphors to illustrate a profound longing, a desire that remains unanswered. It’s about a person trapped in the emotional turmoil of missing someone who’s moved on.

The song’s message is a universal one: the tormenting duality of love and loss, which everyone at some point might experience. It is not specifically written about a particular individual, but it manages to encapsulate the shared human experience of heartbreak. Sade wrote this song to shed light on the profound struggle of longing for someone who’s seemingly unreachable.

Jump in if you’re intrigued by the emotional journey that “Is It a Crime?” takes its listeners on and how Sade uses words to paint a picture of love and longing that’s both deeply personal and universally relatable.

“Is It a Crime?” Lyrics Meaning

Starting with the lyrics “This may come, this may come as some surprise, but I miss you,” the song introduces us to the protagonist’s raw emotions. They’re caught in a whirlwind of missing someone who’s lied to them, but they can’t help longing for them. It’s an honest confession of vulnerability.

“He takes her love, but it doesn’t feel like mine. He tastes her kiss, her kisses are not wine, they’re not mine” – these lines reflect the protagonist’s heartbreak. The person they’re longing for is with someone else. The use of the contrast between wine and the other’s kiss symbolizes the deep emotional connection that’s missing.

The lines, “Is it a crime? Is it a crime, that I still want you?” manifest the protagonist’s internal struggle. They’re questioning their emotions, wondering if it’s wrong to still desire someone who’s no longer theirs.

The song further reinforces this emotional depth with references to vast geographical features. Sade compares the protagonist’s love to Victoria Lake and the Empire State – it’s wider, taller, diving and jumping like the deepest ocean. This symbolism presents the vastness and intensity of the protagonist’s love.

Towards the end, the song’s tone morphs from a plea to a more assertive stance, “I can’t give you more than that, surely, you want me back,” indicating the protagonist’s emotional growth. They have offered all their love and now demand reciprocity. Despite the pain, the protagonist manages to express hope, embodying the human spirit’s resilience in the face of emotional turmoil.

The Story Behind “Is It a Crime?”

Understanding why Sade wrote “Is It a Crime?” involves diving into the artist’s mindset at the time. The song, released in 1985, was part of Sade’s debut album “Diamond Life,” which broadly discusses themes of love, loss, and longing. The song encapsulates the universal human experience of unrequited love, further establishing Sade’s relatability and her mastery of lyrical storytelling.

“Is It a Crime?” represents a state of mind where emotions of longing, hope, and acceptance coexist, creating an emotional blend that is both tumultuous and tender. This emotional landscape is, in part, what makes Sade’s songwriting deeply compelling and relatable to many listeners.

While there’s no explicit account of the specific personal experiences that led Sade to write “Is It a Crime?”, it’s clear that the song is rooted in a deep understanding of human emotions. It mirrors a state of mind where one grapples with their feelings, trying to make sense of the chaos that often comes with heartbreak. It also expresses the strength and resilience necessary to confront these emotions honestly and head-on.

Sade has a knack for writing songs that resonate with listeners on a deeply personal level, using relatable themes and universal emotions. “Is It a Crime?” is no exception. The song serves as a sort of catharsis, allowing listeners to process their own feelings of longing and heartbreak, offering comfort and solace.

Despite its heartbreaking theme, the song ultimately leaves us with a message of hope and resilience. It speaks to the human capacity to endure emotional hardship, to long for what once was, and yet, remain hopeful for what may still come.

In the end, “Is It a Crime?” is more than just a song about heartbreak. It’s about the strength of the human spirit in the face of emotional adversity. It reminds us that while love can be complicated and heart-wrenching, it’s also a profound part of the human experience. It speaks to our shared struggle with these complex emotions, reminding us that it’s okay to feel, to ache, and to yearn. In fact, it’s not just okay, it’s human. As Sade sings, is it a crime to want and be wanted? Certainly not.

So next time you’re listening to “Is It a Crime?”, take a moment to appreciate not just the beautiful melody and Sade’s soulful voice, but also the deeper message of the song – the strength and resilience of the human heart.