English Majors Discuss Pop Songs: “Your Love” by The Outfield

Putting our English Degrees to work by tackling life’s persistent mysteries…

 

The Song: “Your Love” by The Outfield

 

hqdefaultThe Lyric: “I just want to use your love tonight. I don’t want to lose your love tonight.”

 

The Problem: Those pesky pronouns. Whose love does the speaker want to “use”? Whose love does s/he fear losing?

 

Possible Interpretations:

A) We’ll start with the obvious one —the “your” in both lines refers to the same person.

Yet who might this person be? Josie is the main object of affection named in the song, but alas, Josie is “on vacation far away.” Which means the person the speaker desires to “talk it over” with (don’t even get me started on what the “it” might be) must be someone else. For the sake of clarity, let’s call her Susan. In this interpretation, then, the speaker wants to “use” Susan’s love without losing Susan’s love.

Although at first this interpretation seems obvious, upon closer inspection it leads to several problematic questions. Why, for instance, would “using” Susan’s love cause the speaker to “lose” Susan’s love? After all, isn’t it common knowledge that one must “use it or lose it”? One would think that if the speaker were to “use” Susan’s love, then Susan would be thrilled and the act of talking “it” over would deepen their relationship.

Alternatively, if “it” is a cheap one night stand driven by hormonal desperation and loneliness, than why would the speaker care about losing Susan’s love? What do we know about Susan anyway? Very little description of her is given other than this one somewhat disturbing line, “You know, I like my girls a little bit older.” It’s never made clear exactly how young Susan might be, but we can assume that either she’s too young to legally “talk it over with” (in which case, the reader might wonder, how exactly does the speaker know Susan? Is the speaker her babysitter? Cousin? Uncle? This interpretation rapidly leads us down a perilous road…), or is the speaker professing an attraction for “older” women (but then why refer to her as a “girl”)? At best this interpretation is deeply problematic, At worst, it’s illegal and creepy.

 

51K+W3OHITLB) The split pronoun reference.

In this interpretation several of the logical inconsistencies pointed out above are rectified by attributing the first “your” to the unnamed strumpet “Susan,” and the second “your” to “Josie.” It’s obvious that Josie is important to the speaker. After all, the speaker “ain’t got many friends left to talk to” [sic]. Josie’s significance to the speaker is further highlighted by the fact that she’s the only figure named in the song. Therefore, it stands to reason that the speaker doesn’t want to “lose” her love by using Susan’s love for one night.

However, despite the logical sense this interpretation makes, grammatically it’s a mess. The proximity of these lines would suggest that both pronouns refer to the same person, not two different women, and the unnamed and too-young Susan is the only clear green light to be spied off the end of that dock. Not only that, the song is titled “Your Love” so the object of the “Your” in these lines must be of considerable significance to the overall meaning of the song. Who, then, matters more to the speaker? Who is the greater “your”? The unnamed and too young temptress, Susan, or the named and noble Josie? The answer lies in the third interpretation.

 

C) The “your” in both lines refers to Josie.

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Your love is precious to me…

Admittedly, this is a darker, more nefarious interpretation of this so-called love song, but consider its merits. If the “your” in both lines refers to Josie, the only person named in the song, then the meaning of the lyrics (and the manipulative magnitude of what the speaker is professing to his illicit one-night-stand quarry) becomes clear.

Consider it this way: “I just want to use Josie’s love tonight. I don’t want to lose Josie’s love tonight.” Now all the pieces fall into place. It’s not uncommon for women to find attached men to be more attractive than single men. After all, attached men already have the endorsement of one woman (and why are single men single? There must be something wrong with them, one might think). In addition, perhaps the unnamed vixen, Susan, thoroughly dislikes Josie and wants to seek vengeance upon her. It stands to reason, then, that the speaker might use Josie’s love to lure Susan to his place to “talk it over.” Of course, the speaker wouldn’t want to lose Josie’s love in this transaction, since it’s Josie’s love that confers upon him such attractive allure, and since Josie is his one valid, named relationship.

If we consider all the repercussions of such a reading, it becomes clear that the speaker is a sleazy, lecherous toad. But the speaker is also an honest toad in confessing to Susan (and to us) exactly how he’s using Josie’s love. In such a confession, there’s undoubtedly a cry for help (“no one is around when I’m in trouble”), and so the overall meaning of the song unfolds like a lotus flower in murky water. “Your Love” is both an empowering and a corrupting force, because “Your Love” enables the speaker to have seductive power over others.

 

Your Vote: Please help my wife and me settle a bet. Which interpretation makes the most sense to you, A, B, or C? (Leave a response below or via FB or Twitter. Results will be tallied and posted.)

 

The Lyric in Context (incomplete song lyrics included here for educational purposes only):

“Your Love”

by THE OUTFIELD

Josie’s on a vacation far away
Come around and talk it over
So many things that I want to say
You know I like my girls a little bit older
I just wanna use your love tonight
I don’t wanna lose your love tonight

I ain’t got many friends left to talk to
No one’s around when I’m in trouble
You know I’d do anything for you
Stay the night but keep it undercover
I just wanna use your love tonight, whoa
I don’t wanna lose your love tonight…

 

What lyrics puzzle you the most? Share them below so we can continue to apply our English degrees for the betterment of all humanity.

Comments

  1. Interesting post — and I’m going with . . . . A!
    To add the psych spin to it (and as for the potential conundrum of why would he care about losing her love tonight if just wanted to use her love) — I do believe this is the mark of a manipulative narcissist. It’s not that he actually feared losing her LOVE, as much as he fears losing her attention. This would also explain why he “Anita got many friends left to talk to”. Either way, Josie should dump him and get a new man . . . which perhaps was her plan from the start and why she went, “on a vacation far away”.

  2. The age-old question that’s confounded a generation. I vote for A and think “Susan” is an older woman. I’ve heard men call women in their 30s and 40s “girls.” The narrator loves Josie and wants some Mrs. Robinson action to distract him from missing her. The cad.

  3. You don’t think about it just feel it and that’s how you under stand it, and it seems like someone who loves some one but is scarred to find out that they don’t like this person very much.

  4. After much time on loop, and for a long time thinking it was the narrator was breaking law. I’ve come to around that Susan may be Josie’s older sister. In which case he wants to uses susans love tonight, but be doesn’t want lose her love as sort of in law sister type. God bless the 80s hiding dark lyrics in pop tunes.

  5. Marianna gianina says:

    Uhhhhhh of course she is an older woman Josie is his girlfriend and he wants to sleep with an older woman he is attracted to older women!!!!

  6. What if “Susan” is Josie’s Mom?

    • Skipphag da Devoura says:

      Josie can’t you see, you’re just not the girl for me… I know it might be wrong, but I’m in love with Josie’s mom…

  7. I interpret it as choice A. I think that Susan, though, is his ex to whom he still feels close. I imagine Josie his the new girl he’s dating and she’s out of town. He invites his ex to stay the night, but that’s why they have to keep it undercover so Josie doesn’t find out. He wants to “use” her love to cure his loneliness. He says, “I don’t want to lose your love tonight” implying that it’s just for that night. Perhaps he’s saying that that night he wants to pretend like they never split.

  8. So I though Susan was younger at first as he usually likes his girls a little bit older… I thought perhaps that he is using Susan’s love but then maybe falls for her and doesn’t want to lose her. So I vote D lol both yours are Susan!

  9. She is a drug, he is professing his love for an opioid, not a person you boobs.

  10. I think Susan is a friend he cares for. He wants to stay w/ Josie but while she’s gone he wants to see what his friend Susan is like though it is only for that night he won’t leave Josie.

  11. I just always assumed Josie was a guy…
    A friend if his & was away & he was trying to get over on
    His friends girlfriend….
    Idk. Just seemed obvious to me,
    But now you’ve got me all screwed up
    With your other hypothesis.

  12. I thought Josie was away and he had this other girl who loved him and he wanted to use her but didn’t want to get her upset and lose her love Some people enjoy it when someone loves them even though they love someone else. Stringing them along makes them feel good.

  13. I think he’s attracted to two women at one time, really not that hard to imagine really. He has a good friendship with this “other” girl, “so many things I want to say”, but thinks that if they cross that line (sleeping with someone) thier relationship will change and she will no longer hold him in the same positive regard she currently does.

    They do end up sleeping togther “would you please shut the door, and don’t forget what I told you”. He is still concerned that her regard for him has changed after they sleep together. The narrative of the story ends here with her leaving his house.

    Then the lyrics repeat because musically it makes sense to.

  14. Narcissist, as suggested above. In last verse, “Susan” is on to his game and leaves. He’s already used her, however, and shows no remorse (“close the door” and “just ’cause you’re right don’t mean I’m wrong”), so he’s sociopathic, also. And plenty of women seem to find guys like this to be more attractive than “nice” guys.

  15. “Just ’cause you’re right, doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”

    Poverty-stricken Old Lady Susan is right about the fact that he loves her and that he would rather be with her, but for some reason (must be either because of the money, prestige, or keeping up appearances) he believes in his heart that he has to stick with boring-a$$Young (and apparently naïve) Josie.

    T’is a tale as old as time.

    By the way, randomly finding this blog (because I had this song stuck on my head) and reading all of the comments has totally made my morning start off on an awesome note. Thank you!!

  16. Hu's On First says:

    How about option D: There is no Susan. “You” and “your” both refer to Josie and she is the only woman in the song (an older married woman).

    Josie is on a vacation far away from where SHE lives. Where is her vacation destination? Why, the narrator’s hometown. So she’s far away from her husband but near the narrator, with whom she’s having an affair. Maybe that’s even the reason she’s going on these vacations in the first place. She’s spending her rich husband’s money to go across the country to have an affair with a younger man, and her poor husband doesn’t know what’s going on.

    This makes it sound a lot like the Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes”, but with the affair taking place across a longer distance. Say the woman is 40, the man is 60, and the narrator is 25. This interpretation might not be what the author intended but it seems to be the most interesting.

  17. I was in a completely different frame of mind but never paid attention to the “older” reference. I had thought he was going not “lose your love tonight” by using the memory/fantasies of her love to take ‘care of business’ himself….. Hmmm

  18. I was in a completely different frame of mind, but never paid attention to the “older” reference. I had thought he was going not “lose your love tonight” by using the memory/fantasies of her love to take ‘care of business’ himself….. Hmmm

  19. What if Josie is a man (e.g. “The Outlaw Josie Wales), and Susan’s significant other? Now her coming around while he’s on vacation might mean that she’s got the writer on the hook so to speak.

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