True love is a rose behind glass
It's locked and kept closed
Maybe just to me
My heart's been attacked
Shattered by tough love, bad love
I bought mine off the street
True love, man, just can't be beat
I felt so complete
Married to heavenly bodies above
And each night I look up
At a bright honeymoon
Because it sure seemed built to last
Even after my honeymoon passed
I kept right on at midnight
Like a ghost
To the house it once haunted
And day after day
I'd steal with my true love away
To some hideout we left undisturbed
We could do what we wanted
But I started to feel like a liar
Saying I love you
She was madly in love or mad mean
There was no in-between
It raised my alarm
I found I can't make a stand
I'm her hired hand
I have to do harm
One day I got sick
She played me a nasty old trick
Said, "I need cigarettes"
Walked around the block
Caught a cab
Stayed gone for too long
My love had gotten so strong
Just to try to being back on my own
I had to go to rehab
All I need is a safe place to bleed
Is this where it's at?
Half of no chance
Steps in a dance
Rest of my life's been in combat
Now I'm the king of the ward
Because I'm good and I swallow my sword
Puke it up for the doctor to write
A new prescription
Tranquil as a dove
People that have lost their true love
They all seem to fit the same description
I feel cold, useless and old
Wish I was no one
Take me up, my Lord
Take me up today
Take me out of this place
Take me up with you today


Lyrics submitted by dragonflower44, edited by lisasays85

True Love song meanings
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53 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentIm sorry but this is the saddest song ever. I heard a live bootleg of the earlier version of this song and even elliott sounds like he is crying.
    luna13on April 29, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti know i am the last person to comment here but i am listening to this song again now and fucking hell......it is phenomenal!!!
    jesus, how did he manage to get make his songs so sad and beautiful at the same time? this is sooooooooo good..........RIP
    badgeon May 25, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentelliott doesn't necessarily write about drugs, just uses them as a vehicle to convey other ideas about relationships, more specifically poisonous/harmful relationships with other people and himself.
    johnnywinterson September 04, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentElliott had this to say about 'True Love' from his last interview: "True Love is a lyric driven song. This is the oldest one that we've heard so far. This is from that record I was going to throw away. I still might. Those weren't very happy days. It was a long time ago at this point."
    planetearthon July 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think this about a woman and drugs and how loosing his true love made him become more involved and dependant on drugs as they became his "true Love"
    giv_emhellkidon September 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song to me is about Elliott Smiths search for love. The idea that the only love he can reach is that of drugs. Its the only love that doesn't leave him. Until all the drugs he used made him ill "One day I got sick, She played me a nasty old trick"
    So he takes leaves his true love, drugs, although they were his lover, he found it hard to live without them. "My love had gotten too strong"
    So at the end, he has no true love and is drugged up by doctors who just treat him like all the others. He just wants to go someone where he belongs, perhaps the afterlife.

    God rest Elliott smiths sole. Lets hope he's home now.
    wellwhiskeyon October 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOh god this song. "All I need is a safe place to bleed..."

    It's obviously, and heartbreakingly, about drug addiction, in my opinion. And I love that he can portray the bleakness of rehab in so few lines. "Puke it up so the doctor can write me a new prescription" -- the physical discomfort of the actual treatment, "Tranquil as a dove, people that have lost their true love" -- the isolation of feeling lost and being surrounded by equally lost people.

    And I agree with cheetohman. The last part is clearly:

    Take me up my lord
    Take me up today
    Take me out of this place
    Take me up with you today.

    Which could be interpreted as a plea to god for death, or could be interpreted as a plea to the "heavenly bodies above" to "take me up" (let him get high). I suspect it's meant to be both, anything to "take [him] out of this place."
    Oedipa_Maason September 06, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentaflatearth
    03-02-2009

    Rated 0 I'm surprised nobody else came up with this, but the opening line could be a reference to those little glass tubes with fake roses in them that are sold in convenience stores and used as crack pipes. Not that thats necessarily what he intended, it just makes me think of those, and it kinda fits.

    Also Elliott Smith was a fan of Neil Young, who has a song called "Love is a Rose".


    Okay I agree with you completely on this. I've actually heard something in another song, I can't remember which..maybe it was an alternate version of something. Oh yes, it was "No More" which has also been called "Either/Or No More". He says something about a plastic rose in that. There are various references to the plastic roses in certain songs (can't think of them all right now). But yes, I remember somebody in my family educating me on what those roses were for in the first place. This is a very real possibility.

    But as I said above, it could have any number of meanings.
    celisathesingeron March 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentis it about a person or a drug?
    i mean, there are lots of lyrics to suggest it is about a person but ones like "i bought mine off the street" and "i had to go to rehab" and "i feel cold, useless and old" all suggest drugs, especially the first two.
    just a thought....R.I.P.
    badgeon May 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song...and the way his voice cracks when he says liarer...

    anyway, weather it's about a woman or drugs
    the underlying theme is dependance and the effect it has on people

    it makes me smile through the tears
    jesus, Elliott really knew how to do it
    lost_in_twlighton August 10, 2005   Link

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