"The Love Thieves" as written by and Martin Lee Gore....
Oh the tears that you weep
For the poor tortured souls
Who fall at your feet
With their love begging bowls
All the clerks and the tailors
The sharks and the sailors
All good at their trades
They'll always be failures
Alms for the poor
For the wretched disciples
And the love that they swore
With their hearts on the bible
Beseeching the honor
To sit at your table
And feast on your holiness
As long as they're able
Love needs its martyrs
Needs its sacrifices
They live for your beauty
And pay for their vices
Love will be the death of
My lonely soul brothers
But their spirit shall live on in
The hearts of all lovers
Your holding court
With your lips and your smile
Your body's a halo
Their minds are on trial
Sure as Adam is Eve
Sure as Jonah turned whaler
They're crooked love thieves
And you are their jailer
Love needs its martyrs
Needs its sacrifices
They live for your beauty
And pay for their vices
Love will be the death of
My lonely soul brothers
But their spirit shall live on in
The hearts of all others
Love will be the death of
My lonely soul brothers
But their spirit shall live on in
The hearts of all others



Lyrics submitted by Fistan

"The Love Thieves" as written by Martin Gore

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Love Thieves song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI don't agree with the religious interpretation of this song, I feel that the religious imagery is used as a device to help paint a picture of the dark side of love and lust.

    I think the 'you' is like a personification of romantic love, like the Goddess Aphrodite perhaps. The 'common' people try to become disciples of love, but they often fail due to the physical imperfections of the world. In this way they (unwittingly) give themselves as sacrificial martys to the idea of love.

    In the real world this may be seen as the dark sides of love - pornography etc. The martys aspired to the ideal of perfect love, but tragically got lost along the way ('they live for your beauty.. and pay for their vices'). They are love thiefs when they try to achieve love perhaps through a shortcut of physical gratification.

    Unfortunately, we are told that this is necessary in the world - "love needs its martyrs", but that the original nobel aim of those that had fallen, will be remembered by all those who share the same desire, the heart of all lovers.
    Peanut99on January 03, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt sounds to me like it may be DM talking about the fans.
    starfireon November 23, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPeanut99 is right but there's still something missing. It might be this : when you found your real LOVE, many other potential lovers of yours can't love you anymore, and thus they'll probably downcast . That's why "love needs its martyrs". It's simply the the love seen on its other side.
    thelovethiefon September 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUltra is my fav. album by Depeche...but I can't make heads or tails of this song. I guess it's about love...but I really don't know.
    XcrowfeatherXon December 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think its about christianity...more specifically perhaps, missionaries. they help the poor with health care, education, and food...but it is in exchange for excepting a god that maybe they dont believe in. in a sense, its stealing the purity of their love.
    saturnineon July 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWithout paying attention to the lyrics it seems it's a love song, which it kind of is. It's definitely an attack on obsessive love for God, and particularly Jesus in Christian doctrine.

    The theme presents our idea of God in a negative light. Anyone who defies love of God, such as Jonah or Adam and Eve, are branded love thieves. The best we can do at life is to receive God's glory "Beseeching the honour / To sit at your table / And feast on your holiness / As long as they're able". Anyone who refuses is a love thief, "Their minds are on trial." He also presents that the obsessive love with God or Jesus can be equated with passionate, or dare I say sexual, love with the lyrics "You're holding court / With your lips and your smile / Your body's a halo" We're obsessed with the characterization of God and Jesus in our own image. God made humans in our own image, really means "we made God in our own image."
    ebhiroon February 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentin my eyes, its against the religious, and for me it additionally means that some of them "live for your beauty, and pay for their vices". and that their shortcomings as well as positive properties live on in the next generation "the hearts of all lovers" but that's just me
    r-e-volutionon April 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI totally agree with r-e-volution's opinion here. I mean it really seems something antireligious. See, I'm far from being an antireligious person, specially because I know how much religion have been useful for controlling our 'animal' side. I guess if it doesn't exist religion we all would live in such a worse way than we are living now... Nevertheless, I think many people really tend to be often manipulated by other pretentiously 'blessed' ones.

    Anyway, I think Martin is suggesting that we will never be good enough to any religion for deserving all the love from 'Heaven' since we are supposed to be not entirely 'holy' in our human essence ("All the clerks and the tailors / The sharks and the sailors / All good at their trades / But they'll always be failures"), so we are constantly needing to 'stole' love (meaning: understanding and compassion) for supporting our 'inferiority'. Therefore we would be slaves from religion on this perspective. And even the most faithful disciples are ready to fall into a temptation sooner or later ("...And feast on your holiness / As long as they're able"), so they also are 'love thieves' like the rest of us...
    circusjuggleron October 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about "the poor tortured souls who fall at" the feet of a really hot woman. Men (clerks, tailors, sharks and sailors) beseeching the lady for her favor but failing and thus becoming a love martyr.
    scottaculouson December 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is my favorite depeche mode song. It's one of the more poetic ones as well. To me the whole song is quite simple. It's about love, how we'll never be able to live up to it's beauty. It's not a religious song necessarily, But I think it implies that love is a god.

    "Love needs its martyrs
    Needs its sacrifices
    They live for your beauty
    And pay for their vices"

    What has martyrs and sacrafices?gods. And at one point we are all disciples of love. he talks of 'paying for their vices'. It's a large price we pay for love,even death sometimes. Did anyone else notice he keeps talking about death?

    "Love will be the death of
    My lonely soul brothers
    But their spirits shall live on in
    The hearts of all lovers"

    'Their spirits shall live on in the hearts of all' Romantics!
    plathgirlon July 25, 2007   Link

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