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The One I Love song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentI seem to be in minority here, but I never thought this song to be about "false love" or "hate" or anything like that. It might be because of my personal experiences.

    I think it's like if you were doing something (anything, even singing this) and thinking about the person you loved the most, the person you are no longer with, in this case probably because of your own fault (one _I_'ve left). Kind of "wish you were here" sentiment. Whatever you do "goes out to the one you love" in the sense that you wish this person was here with you participating in whatever you are doing (in other words "this one" doesn't have to mean the song, it could be anything). To me this song is about obsessive love.

    And the "prop" is not the person, it's whatever you fill your time with to try to forget about the one you love, the one you can't be with. The variation at the end just states that the prop, whatever it was, has occupied some of his time, but the feeling hasn't changed.

    And "Fire...!!!" to me represents the torment of being in this position of being able to do nothing but miss what you had and what is now gone. It does almost feel like burning from inside. Especially the way MS sings this song in the acoustic version. I don't think it's full of hate, more like extreme pain.

    I wouldn't want it on my wedding that's for sure, but on the other hand I think love is completely real in this one, even too real. It's an obsession.

    Just my take on this.
    elfyon February 15, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI read this song as the lament of a person who DOES "love" (in his/ her own fashion) the person to whom (s/he) is singing, but is unable to avoid "keeping busy" in the object's absence. And the lyric change, from "a simple prop" to "another prop," indicates a sort of resignation with the whole situation. perhaps the speaker isn't necessarily -happy- about his/ her behaviors, but is compelled to seek these props nevertheless.

    Now, I agree, using the term "love" might be an overstatement... perhaps too much depth of emotion, but perhaps it is "love" as the subject understands it/ is capable of feeling. Further, I certainly wouldn't want to be the object of the speaker's "love," nor would I want to be the prop who keeps him/ her busy.

    And why would the speaker need/ want/ use a prop? Narcissism. Inadequacy. Fear (of self, of others). Anger. Validation. Resignation. Some psychotic thought process. Borderline personality disorder. (Perceived) self-defense. Retaliation. It could go on & on...
    charvanaon April 13, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWell, I was 17 when this song was released and hit the Top 40. I have ALWAYS heard it was a "hate" song. In particular, Stipe was singing it to a former (male) lover.
    Imagine that the chorus has the unspoken lines "Ready, Aim..." before he sings "Fire!"
    The song is about being tormented by a duplicitous ex-lover who you wished you could see at the receiving end of a firing line. Alanis Morrisette eat your heart out.
    jdappletonon June 22, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is one of the best faux love songs ever! i love that people think it's a nice song, but i mean, read the lyrics. it's about someone that goes from relationship to relationship, saying he loves them simply to get what he wants before moving on. i know someone who had this playing once at their wedding, which i found slightly stupid. anyways, that's what i think...
    xpankfrisston June 15, 2002   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is a song about a pyromaniac who built a stage prop, didn't like it, burned it down and built another.


    A guy who left behind a heroin addicted lover after discovering that he really didn't care for her or doing drugs any more. The chorus "Fire (She's coming down on her own, now)" means he left her to deal with her heroin withdrawls on her own. Unfortunately this guys seems to repeat his pattern of getting into these types of relationships as he moves on to another one and goes through the same thing.

    Just a practical interpretation by a joker.
    practicaljokeron January 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI personally think that this song is about a confused guy.

    A guy who was dating a girl and then broke up with her for one reason or another. But once he had, he didn't know why.

    This guy keeps on chasing the girl once he sees his mistake, then once they are together again or she seems to forgive him, he doesn't see why he should be with her anymore. Then again when they arn't together, he dosn't understand why he left her again.

    So the circle goes on.

    I think this song isn't so much about that guy, but is the guy singing. Giving the sway from being in love, to leaving her. But no matter which it is, he sees he is doing her no good. Basically he knows he is using her as 'a simple prop to occupy my time'.

    Then. She doesn't want him anymore. And he realises he loves her so much, he will leave her alone. Hence: 'a simple prop THAT OCCUPIED my time'
    JustAnotherGuyWithAnIdeaon June 22, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think he's talking about one woman but your interpratation makes me think...
    McShineon September 25, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about betrayal. basically what happens is a guy was in love with a girl, then ran off with someone else
    heythere81201on March 05, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust the line 'a simple prop, to occupy me time' is superb. If you don't listen closely, you could be dcieved that this was a 'beautiful song' - as my mother beleived it to be for about 5 years!
    butterflykiss84on March 10, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, I have come across many people that will swear on their lives that this is, in fact, a love song. Do some people refuse to listen to certain lyrics of songs? Look ... the chorus has one word ... "FIRE" .... I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound all that romantic or loving to me. A great R.E.M. song, however.
    ars musicaon April 29, 2003   Link

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