"Lover I Don't Have to Love" as written by and Oberst....
I picked you out
Of a crowd and talked to you
Said I liked your shoes
You said, "Thanks, can I follow you?"
So it's up the stairs
And out of view, no prying eyes
I poured some wine
I asked your name, you asked the time

Now it's two o'clock
The club is closed and we are up the block
Your hands are on me
Pressing hard against your jeans
Your tongue in my mouth
Trying to keep the words from coming out
You didn't care to know
Who else may have been you before

I want a lover I don't have to love
I want a girl who's too sad to give a fuck
Where's the kid with the chemicals?
I thought he said to meet him here
But I'm not sure
I've got the money
If you've got the time
You said, "It feels good"
I said "I'll give it a try"

Then my mind went dark
We both forgot where your car was parked
Let's just take the train
I'll meet up with the band in the morning

Bad actors with bad habits
Some sad singers, they just play tragic
And the phone's ringing
And the van's leaving
Let's just keep touching
Let's just keep, keep singing

I want a lover I don't have to love
I want a boy who's so drunk he doesn't talk
And where's the kid with the chemicals?
I got a hunger and I can't seem to get full
I need some meaning I can memorize
The kind I have always seems to slip my mind

But you, but you

You write such pretty words
But life's no storybook
Love's an excuse to get hurt
And to hurt
Do you like to hurt?
I do, I do
Then hurt me
Then hurt me
Then hurt me


Lyrics submitted by firefly716

"Lover I Don't Have to Love" as written by Conor Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Lover I Don't Have to Love song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI agree with Firefly: these lyrics are rough. They show an honestly cynical side that I would personally be ashamed to publish, and speaks of love/unlove. The references to hands and tongues and fucking underscore the sexual side of the two lovers' interaction--it's animal, not human.
    Later, when the lover says, "Love is an excuse to get hurt," s/he seems to add, almost as an afterthought or a confession, "And to hurt."
    S/he even chides him/herself: s/he calls him/herself a bad actor, someone who just "plays tragic."
    Perhaps I'm projecting my own feelings onto this song, but I feel it contains a lot of harsh self-criticism that is, perhaps, too harsh. And it's the kind that's shameful, that makes you grit your teeth and clench your stomach to say out loud.
    Lunetiaon September 15, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentdunno if its been said, but prostitution anyone? some lines:

    I picked you out of a crowd

    You said "Thanks, can I follow you?"
    So it's up the stairs
    And out the aim of prying eyes

    I asked your name you asked the time

    Now it's two o'clock the club is closed

    You didn't care to know who else may have been you before

    n to further back it up, the chorus:

    I want a lover I don't have to love
    I want a girl who's too sad to give a fuck
    I got the money if you got the time

    then it gets a bit darker, (like he states), i think he gets a bit drug-tripped, just wants sex with anyone (the boy), wants to be hurt, needs more drugs (the hunger).
    theres other things to, like noticeing her shoes, her trying to shut him up by kissing him etc. thekid with the chemicals might be the pimp?
    iluvyougoldenblueon April 10, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love this song of Bright Eyes. Though its not their best, it sure is one of their best. Go Conor Oberst!

    It seems a lot of people want to connect it to drug use and cocaine. But everyone always thinks songs are about that. I really think this one is about love. I think its sorta like his other song, "Take it Easy (Love Nothing)"

    I think its about him wanting to have a superficial lover. You know, love without the strings attached. He sees real love as just pain, so he wants fake love, because its funner, I guess. Or maybe its about prostitution, but the ideas are similar.

    "Your tongue in my mouth, trying to keep the words from coming out"
    "I asked your name, you asked the time"
    "You didn't care to know who else may have been you before"
    "I want a lover I don't have to love"
    "I want a girl too sad to give a F*ck"
    "I want a boy who's so drunk he doesn't talk"

    He wants... maybe... sex? But not actually have strings attached to an actual relationship, because a relationship will end in hurt. But just sex wont ever end in pain for him. Its about superficial love.

    I love the ending so much. Its contradicts the whole song, as if a confession. Through the whole song hes saying he doesn't want to get hurt and how he doesn't want to care about his lover (Since it ends in pain...), but then in the end he's admitting he DOES want to care deeply about someone, but he's just scared to get hurt. When he's saying, "Then hurt me" he's really saying, "Then love me" since he said earlier that Love WAS hurt.

    Love it to DEATH. The lryics speak to me like no other lryics. Conor Oberst is absolute genius. And I don't consider this emo, I consider is GENIUS!
    DreamGeniuson June 21, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me it's about sex as a rock star.

    I particularly like "I asked your name you asked the time."

    Because she already knows his name. Captures a lot in a little.
    AmericanSuperHeroson October 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentconor oberst is amazing. i love his lyrics. wow...just....wow
    theartistsleisureon June 21, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI am so in love with this song.. its the kinda song you can listen to over and over and never get bored, the rhythm and beat are awesome and help to create the sensual atmosphere and the lyrics themselves are harsh and raw but fantastic. Conor is a genius.

    "Then hurt me"
    emochick182on May 31, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentokay, personaly..
    i don't think its a song that works for boys and girls coming out of a relationship! any conor oberest fan knows his really depressed, drug addicted guy! i think the song is him say girls, weren't fillin his hunger completely.....get it!
    koalaon July 11, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this song. Probably one of my favourite ever songs. He's talking about his love for heroin, I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty certain.
    BadActorsBadHabitson August 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentExcerpt from Collen Curran's book Whores on the Hill (pgs. 24-25) that relates to this song.
    "Astrid said you should walk over, solo, and say something simple.
    "I like your shoes."
    "Are you in a band?"
    "Nice tattoo" and "Hi."
    You could ask, "Do you know the time?" or "Can I ask you a question?" and the not ask a question at all.
    You could dance or you could stand there. Cup your hand over his ear to speak into it, an easy excuse with the music blaring. Like a drug, like a hook, the way you wanted to touch him, lightly, brushing his jeans with your leg.
    He'd say, "Thanks." maybe, "What's your name?"
    Or "You want to dance?"
    Then "I've seen you." and "I know you." or "Want to go someplace quiet?"
    And "Can I follow you?" and "You smell good. What's your name again?"
    ......
    Later, he'd go, "I know a place." and "I know a kid."
    "You turn me on."
    "Your friends can come." and "Let's get out of here.""

    Not that the song is about the book. Just very similar, especially this chapter.
    jasdfjkon October 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI feel like the whole song is about his inability to love. He is talking about his casual encounters with women and how he knows anything beyond that would just end with someone getting hurt.

    "Where is the kid with the chemicals?"
    Many assume that this is a drug reference, but I feel like it means more than that. I believe he is referencing the fact that love is a chemical reaction. When he is hooking up with the random girl he thinks that he should feel something but he doesn't. "He said he'd meet me here but I'm not sure."
    mickybeeon September 22, 2011   Link

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