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.


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”


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.


  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.

    • I vote for this scenario too. Could be an ex or a new lover he’s stringing along but he’s using them and doesn’t want to lose their affection even though he’s merely using them and does not really reciprocate their love properly.

    • Both Josie and Susan deserve better!

  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.

    • Mary Ann says

      I like this option. At least it’s less sleazy than the other interpretations AND it fits the facts as we know them. Have fun, Josie!

    • I actually prefer this scenario, it’s closer to how I’ve thought about it all these years. He briefly fills the listener in on the situation (Josie visiting him) then segues to talking to Josie herself.

      • I always thought he was referring to josie the whole time and that her far away vacation destination just happened to be to wherever this dude lives…he was telling her to come around and talk things over…lol thats how
        I always interpreted it…

  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.

    • ThroatBruise says

      Oh man I didn’t think of that! It is for sure either this, or the narrator is cheating on Josie with Susan while Josie is on vacation, like I break down in my post below.

  20. I think it’s a straight up song about cheating with a pop vibe to help dismiss how messed up that is morally. I began disliking the song one day when I really analyzed this. What a jerk lol

  21. Duh – here.
    *Josie is far away (either physically or more important emotionally or both)
    come and talk it over (remove your emotional distance)
    so many things that i want to say
    you know i like my girls a little bit older (where they might be easier to talk to, less petulant so as to go far away whenever there is trouble)

    I just wanna use your love tonite (self evident)
    i don’t wanna lose your love tonite (he feels her distance, feels that it is ending)

    i ain’t got many friends left to talk to (begging, he needs her)
    no one’s around when i’m in trouble (sob story)
    you know i’d do anything for you (begging)
    stay the night, we’ll keep it under cover (no one has to know that you came back)

  22. ThroatBruise says

    The meaning is obvious I can’t believe only a few of the comment-ers are (what I’m 99% sure is) correct.

    His girlfriend Josie is on vacation, this dude calls his ex up and wants to “talk” ;). He’s saying that he likes girls he has more history with, as in: “Josie just doesn’t have what we had babe” or some BS like that, nothing creepy about underage girls.

    Then he wants to have sex with his ex (wants to rekindle the romance, i.e. “lose your love”) but also doesn’t want to leave Josie (screwing your ex but staying with your current girlfriend definitely qualifies as “using” your ex). Then he keeps trying to convince his ex to come over because he has no friends (classic guilt trip…or this guy is such a dirtball he really has no friends left).

    Then he sweet talks her and tells her to not talk about their fling. The rest is pretty much the same: its been a while since we’ve been alone….close the door behind you after we bang, etc.

  23. Bentedwreath says

    No, the more I listen to it, the more I believe that Josie is a MAN. The first two phrases are the speaker luring her over, an “older sister” type he’s always been “friends with benefits” with. He’d do anything for her, enough to keep it quiet that they’re sleeping together while Josie’s away. Despite his guilt, he realizes he has feelings for her are a bit beyond “friends with benefits” and he’s scared of this revelation. In the final phrase, he says “just because you’re right doesn’t mean I’m wrong”…which I take it to mean that she knows of his feelings and he won’t ever act on them because he wants them to keep seeing each other on the down low. He’ll be “another shoulder to cry on” for her. They’re still friends, and he wants to keep it that way.

  24. My Opinion: I’ve played in bands, been in bars, and all the girls sing along with this like they don’t have a clue. This song is about a guy in a band and this unnamed groupie makes it clear to him that she wants to have sex with him despite knowing that he has a girlfriend. His girlfriend, Josie, is on vacation and he sees the opportunity to hook up. He has sex with her, enjoys it a lot, but immediately wants her out after he is done. He warns her not to tell anyone. He used her just like he said he would. Nothing redeemable about it. Total jerk asshole.

  25. Miguel Lucero Mendez says

    Josie on vacation far away and left him there one. And he is beginning to sense that she is falling out of live with him, and feels vulnerable. Josie is older and had money. Susan is nearest to his age, he says he’s always had a thing for older girls to justify why he never hooked up officially with Susan. Susan tells him Josie doesn’t really love him and he accepts it, hence just because you’re right doesn’t mean I’m wrong” but chooses to stay with Josie even though she is cheating on him. Boom!🤯

  26. It’s a dialog between a predatory cougar and the guy she groomed to be her f*ckboy. He has flings for her. She is just using him.

    She calls him

    “Josie (husband) is on a vacation far away. Come around and talk it over.”

    He answers, “There’s so many things that I want to say (like I love you?) … you know I like my girls a little bit older.”

    Her motives: ” I just want to use your love tonoght”

    He is falling in love and is afraid to say no, he’d rather be used than have her break it off completely “I don’t want to lose your love tonight.”

    Next verse .. he tries to talk to her about his feelings and his need for emotional support not just a fling…

    “I ain’t git many friends left to talk to, no one’s around when I’m in trouble”…( when I am lonely and need you, you’re not here, bit you want me to drop everything and come see you for a bootie call?.. the relationship is unequal..)

    Her response:
    “You know I’d do anything for you. (Dismisses his feelings) Stay the night and keep it undercover.”

    Back to each person’s intentions
    The cougar’s: “I just want to use your love tonight”
    Her cub’s mindset: “I don’t want to lose your love tonight”

    So he goes to her place… while he is there… he resizes ots wrong, she’s older, she is married, he knows he’s being used but he is hooked, he’s in love and can’t hide that it’s more for him than just a fling…

    “Try to stop My hands from shaking, something in my mind’s nit making sense, ots been awhile since we were all alone, and I can’t hide the way feeling”… apparently he isn’t messing or emotionally attached to anyone bit her and this secret unequal relationship between them has been going on for “awhile” and he was groomed. He can’t hide that he is genuinely emotionally attached. She likely knows it. But doesn’t care because after they’re done, she discards him:

    “As you’re leaving please won’t you close the door? And do t forget what I told you. (keep it under cover). ”

    His final thought
    Just cause you’re right that don’t mean I’m wrong. Another shoulder to cry upon.

    Yes I know it’s not a good situation for me, I’m totally being used I should quit this lady. I am just “another” guy she probably has several…

    Her motive: I just want to use your love tonight.

    His desperation:
    But I don’t want to lose it….
    Your love. Your love. Your love.

    The narrator is the victim.

    The older lady using him for quickies and manipulating him into a state of confusion is the Australian “Maggie May”…

    Men can be victims of narcissistic abuse, predators, pedophilia, etc. too.

    Women can be creeps.

    My opinion. My interpretation.

    • Hmmmm…doesn’t seem likely since the POV is the unnamed singer who is a man. While I agree that women can also be lecherous, and this certainly could be possible, but it’s not a duet. So I think much less likely.

  27. Option “A”. Both Susan. He’s not worried about losing her love. He’s worried about losing her love “Tonight”. He wants to use her love “Tonight” and not lose her love “Tonight”. If he uses her, he will be all good but if he doesn’t get to be with tonight, that is not his plan. Also, she is not older like some people posted. She is definitely a little too young but too too young use one time (or until Josie comes back)

  28. Let me explain it to you. The writer has had his eye on this Woman for awhile. His main Lady is on vacation and this is his opportunity to bed the Woman he lusts for. She’s there, (opportunity to use her love tonight) She’s tempted and he’s pleading his case that this opportunity doesn’t go to waste (lose her love to night) she knows the situation and she’s on the fence as to giving into temptation for 1 night of pleasure with the Man she wishes was hers.

  29. A, but when he says “you know I like my girls a little bit older,” this means that “Susan” is a little bit older.

    • Mitch Connor says

      Not necessarily. It could be an explanation for why he hasn’t tried to get with “Susan” before. In particular, “Susan” being younger would emphasis the unusual nature of what he’s doing here. The entirety of the song is hinting that this little tryst is an unusual thing for him, and this line would add to that if “Susan” is younger.

    • Mitch Connor says

      I’ve always interpreted the lyrics to be a comment to one girl, and that that girl is the little sister of someone in their group of friends, known to both the main character and Josie (perhaps Josie’s sister), who has had a crush on the main character for a long time. And in this case the, “You know I like my girls a little bit older” is him pointing out that he doesn’t usually do this sort of thing, to further emphasize that it is a one time thing (which is a recurring theme), as well as an apology for why he’s ignored her up until now. But, seeing as Josie is away, he wants to take advantage of the opportunity.

      The main reason this makes sense to me is, again, that there seems to be a recurring theme of the main character emphasizing that he does not usually do this sort of thing, and that is only a
      “crime of opportunity.” It fits in better with the theme than just a random comment about how he likes older girls. If it’s meant here to emphasize the fact that he’s stepping out of his comfort zone because “Susan,” while somewhat young, is too attractive for him to pass up this opportunity, then the line is less of a throwaway and more directly tied to the story.

      Of course either way he is scum, because he’s cheating on Josie, and possibly doing so with her sister or someone he and the group consider too young.

  30. I have always thought “Susan” was Josie’s little sister. She adores her older sibling’s friend/boyfriend (depending on Josie’s relationship with the singer.) When Josie is away, the singer wants to take advantage of the young lady’s adoration, without losing her emotional attachment to him. Thus, all the talk of being one of the only people he can count on. Depending on her level of emotion and maturity, she probably won’t even be offended by the one night stand or keeping it a secret, because “I love him and he needs me.” She doesn’t even need to be underage, just younger than his type and naive enough to buy his line…lots of women fall for this type of crap, no matter what age they are, but it makes the most sense if Josie is the older sister, the singer her boyfriend, and Susan the younger sister.

    • Mitch Connor says

      I agree with this. Or if it’s not her sister, it’s someone they both know. And that would fit in with the “a little bit older” comment by that phrase being both an explanation of why he’s ignored her before and something to add more emphasis to the unusual nature of this one time affair. He has no intention of a relationship with her and has made that clear, and he’s even pointing out that she’s a bit too young for him anyway.

  31. I think of this song like a Hello, Its Me by Todd Rundgren. Option A. Josie may be bad and a fleeting relationship anyway. He has a history with Susan. There is angst involved as he tries to hold onto competing aims. Not a victim but also not a cad. Just another story…

  32. A, more or less

    – Josie is his girlfriend who’s out of town
    – He’s lonely, and generally disliked
    – He wants the companionship of the song’s object, who is a younger woman
    – In contemporary parlance, when he says, “I like my girls a little bit older,” he’s “negging” the other woman, as compared to Josie – but she’ll do
    – The “your love” he wants to “use” refers to sex, the “your love” he doesn’t want to “lose” is her admiration for and infatuation with him
    – When he offers to stay the night but keep it under cover, he says he’s doing it for her, but of course he’s hiding their liaison so Josie won’t find out

    I *think* this is narratively coherent, or at least as close as you’re likely to get. RIP John Spinks, of course; also, he wasn’t Shakespeare.

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