"Drowned World/Substitute For Love" as written by and David Collins . Madonna....
I traded fame for love
Without a second thought
It all became a silly a game
Some things cannot be bought

I got exactly what I asked for
Wanted it so badly
Running, rushing back for more
I suffered fools so gladly

And now I find
I've changed my mind

The face of you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love
Should I wait for you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love

I traveled round the world
Looking for a home
I found myself in crowded rooms
Feeling so alone

I had so many lovers
Who settled for the thrill
Of basking in my spotlight
I never felt so happy

The face of you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love
Should I wait for you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love

Famous faces, far off places
Trinkets I can buy
No handsome stranger, heady danger
Drug that I can try
No ferris wheel, no heart to steal
No laughter in the dark
No one-night stand, no far-off land
No fire that I can spark

The face of you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love
Should I wait for you
My substitute for love
My substitute for love

Now I find I've changed my mind
This is my religion


Lyrics submitted by spliphstar

"Drowned World/Substitute for Love" as written by David Collins . Madonna

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Drowned World/Substitute For Love song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis song demonstrates how intelligent and eloquent Madonna really is! It's provocative and challenges those who see her as a dumb aging pop-tart. It disappoints me immensely that after Ray of Light, her most accomplished and poetic album, she went straight back to being a dumb aging pop-tart.

    Anyway, that aside, I LOVE this song! I think the meaning is relatively simple - Madonna is reflecting on a life spent in the spotlight, chasing things that only mattered for the time-being. "Substitute for Love" I think stands for something that fills the void. No matter how famous or happy you are, there's always a loss of that special something - and in this case that something is love.

    The verse about the "Trinkets, ferris wheel, etc" - I think it's Madonna turning against that world of fame and glamour. She's realizing that it's all fake and she's now found something real - even if that real thing is just a "substitute" it's also a revelation. The "substitute" stands for holding onto the truth until real love comes along.

    Ending the song with "this is my religion" gives credence to the idea that the substitute for love is part of a new belief system.

    gavtailon January 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti mostly agree with TheModNymph, this song and "Gone" is the closest you can come to interacting with Madonna.
    alex_0203on January 23, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is my favorite Madonna song. It's about how she wanted a husband and a man to love so badly, but could never really find love, so settled for a "substitute for love". Then she had her daughter, and Lola became the most important thing in her life. Finding a man became less urgent.
    out of the skyon February 04, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell ownen the novel is thematically more complex than what is immediately apparent. A theme throughout Ballard’s writing is the idea that human beings construct their surroundings to reflect their unconscious drives. In The Drowned World, however, a natural catastrophe causes the real world to transform itself into a dream landscape, causing the central characters to regress mentally. The novel features a central character who, rather than being disturbed by the end of the old world, is enraptured by the chaotic reality that has come to replace it.


    I think the video for the song featuring all the photographers and lights and other chaotic energy kind of relates (metaphorically) to the book in that sense. The fame/ hyper-reality sort of acts as a chaotic distraction for what's really going on. Her daughter, however, being the one thing that offers a sense of common ground.
    I dunno, that's just my interp.
    feelgoodtime05on February 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love the line, "I suffered Fools so gladly"

    I think it may refer to when you love someone, or in deep want of having a partner, you'll put up with anything in fear of being alone etc .

    --
    viiiTMon April 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI don't agree with the way a lot of you interpreted this song. This is a song about regret. She's saying how she sought fame above all else, eschewing love. She felt happy succeeding in that endeavour for a while, but soon came to regret that all she had to show for all her success was trinkets, strangers, drugs, and so on. What good is all of that without love? Hence the "I've changed my mind" line. She's having second thoughts about how she led her life but it's too late. Fame is her religion and she's stuck with it.

    The substitute for love is whoever she's with, one of her many empty lovers.
    dmacdoon April 03, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOf course I'm no Madonna,never say I was,I have no inkling what her life is truly like.However I can for some reason identify with this song.Not to mention the melody and lyrics will get stuck in your head... :) Great song..."no heart to steal"..."no fire that I can spark..."
    vulnaviaon August 31, 2012   Link
  • +1
    MemoryLike earlier predecessor Live to Tell, in Sad Rock ballad Drowned World/Substitute for Love-for Madonna, I can hear the sadness of her lyrics on the paper. Rumor has it Maddy recorded said ballad the day after Michael Hutchence checked out and packed his bags at a Sydney hotel. Thus, Ray of Light's leadoff masterpiece was the last song recorded on that seminal Ciccone artwork. In this sad Madonna ballad, Our Lady had many regrets regarding her career choices-Fame over Love and how her image had spun out of control-A heady and brave way to begin Ray of Light, that's for sure. To get to that lovely and beautiful Ray of Light, Madonna had to get out of that very dark place-the trappings of misguided success, fame and celebrity-Madonna starts Crying in her Sad and Wet Tears-"I Traded Fame for Love/No Second Thoughts/I played a silly game/Some things Can't be bought!/I got exactly what I asked for/I Wanted it (Fame) so badly/I ran and rushed back for more/I Suffered fools so gladly/The face of you/Should I wait for you?/My Substitute for Love!/I Traveled round the world/Looking for Home/I Found myself in a crowded room/Feeling so Alone/I Had many lovers/Who settled for the thrill/Of basking in a Spotlight/I Never Felt so happy-when in fact I wasn't-I Am Sad!/Famous Faces/Far-off Places/The trinkets I'd buy/No handsome stranger/Heady Danger/The drugs I may have tried/No Ferris wheel/Hearts to steal/No laughter in the dark/No one-night stand/Far-off lands/No Fire I Can Spark!"...And Now I Find/I've Changed My Mind!/This (Love) is my Religion!" In the end, Drowned World/Substitute for Love is one of Madonna's best songs ever and an exceptionally brave statement. At the end of said video, Madonna Cries and gives Lola a hug and a beautiful embrace. Once again, Madonna gave us the Shock of the New Reinvention but in a different and better way-From Ray of Light to MDNA, Her Role as Rock
    rabbitbunnyon October 25, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn Heartfelt post-Evita Rock Ballad Drowned World/Substitue for Love, Our Lady-Madonna happens to be her name Cries and Reflects on her life-where from now on in brilliant sadness-will "Trade Fame for Love and concludes that unconditional love is Her Answer-Madonna does it in such a way that I can't help but love, respect and admire her for her Final Decision-like I am speaking to a Friend. Yes, Madonna is Sad but she's being friendly and honestly likeable about it all. The hard edges begin to soften and this time, Our Lady has no time to Strike a Pose. Madonna Cries "You see/And Now I Find/I've Changed My Mind/This (Love) is my Religion!" As Madonna Breaks Down and Cries in Sad Tears, She Embraces Lola and Gives Her a Hug in said video. Lola Has Changed Madonna's life. Now that Lola is Sweet 16, she and Mother Madge have a bond that is unbroken. Like mother, like daughter. From Ray of Light to MDNA, Drowned World/Substitute for Love is a beautiful Madonna ballad artwork that truly affected me in a positive way. Thank You M.L. Ciccone for showing me the way home. Madonna in return is home because Love saved her from the seamy and destructive effects of Reality Cuture, Celebrity and Fame. Now more than ever, Drowned World/Substitute for Love sealed and immortalized Madonna's musical legacy, artistry and integrity-a salient American victory and a beautiful homecoming under the Pure Michigan Skies-Detroit Rock City. Madonna-a huge reason for the revival of Detroit-Amen, Madge!
    rabbitbunnyon October 26, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn Heartfelt post-Evita Rock Ballad Drowned World/Substitue for Love, Our Lady-Madonna happens to be her name Cries and Reflects on her life-where from now on in brilliant sadness-will "Trade Fame for Love and concludes that unconditional love is Her Answer-Madonna does it in such a way that I can't help but love, respect and admire her for her Final Decision-like I am speaking to a Friend. Yes, Madonna is Sad but she's being friendly and honestly likeable about it all. The hard edges begin to soften and this time, Our Lady has no time to Strike a Pose. Madonna Cries "You see/And Now I Find/I've Changed My Mind/This (Love) is my Religion!" As Madonna Breaks Down and Cries in Sad Tears, She Embraces Lola and Gives Her a Hug in said video. Lola Has Changed Madonna's life. Now that Lola is Sweet 16, she and Mother Madge have a bond that is unbroken. Like mother, like daughter. From Ray of Light to MDNA, Drowned World/Substitute for Love is a beautiful Madonna ballad artwork that truly affected me in a positive way. Thank You M.L. Ciccone for showing me the way home. Madonna in return is home because Love saved her from the seamy and destructive effects of Reality Cuture, Celebrity and Fame. Now more than ever, Drowned World/Substitute for Love sealed and immortalized Madonna's musical legacy, artistry and integrity-a salient American victory and a beautiful homecoming under the Pure Michigan Skies-Detroit Rock City. Madonna-a huge reason for the revival of Detroit-Amen, Madge!
    rabbitbunnyon October 26, 2012   Link

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