"Only the Lonely" as written by and Roy/ Melson Joe Orbison....
We walked the loneliest mile
We smile without any style
We kiss all together wrong
No intention

We lie about each other's drinks
We live without each other
Thinking what anyone would do
Without me and you

It's like I told you
Only the lonely can play

So hold on here we go
Hold on to nothin' we know
I feel so lonely
Way up here

You mention the time we were together
So long ago well I don't remember
All I know is it makes me feel good now

It's like I told you only the lonely can play
Only the lonely only the lonely can play

Only the lonely only the lonely can play
It's like I told you only the lonely can play
Only the lonely
Only the lonely can play


Lyrics submitted by stoolhardy, edited by deemic

"Only The Lonely" as written by Martha Emily Davis

Lyrics © RESERVOIR MEDIA MANAGEMENT INC

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Only the Lonely song meanings
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  • +4
    Song MeaningI think it's about meeting up with an ex-boyfriend and knowing that's who you really belong with.

    "We live without each other, thinking what anyone would do
    without me, without you"

    They are both in relationships that they don't want to be in, but at the same time they feel the pressure to stay. It's a great line, and an awesome song!
    DareDarlingtonon January 30, 2012   Link
  • +3
    MemoryThis song had just come out when I met my first wife Leslie in 1992. I was instantly attracted Leslie and it was my impression she was some how attracted to me. She was tall, dark, beautiful and crazy, I was tall and skinny, we were both dating other people at the time. She began singing the lyrics to this song to me where I first met her at work, Only the Lonely Can Play she would sing and then Kiss on My List by Hall and Oates. My girlfriend (who would eventually be my second wife) decided it was time to date other people and Leslie's moronic boyfriend decided the same, though I cannot to this day understand why he decided to leave her. One night shortly after we began dating she proposed to me on the top level of the parking garage at Logan International Airport in Boston overlooking the airport runways .... This strikingly gorgeous beautiful woman asked me, a nobody to marry her... I said yes, we ran of to Rhode Island days later and were married. We were married for one week when I left for Virginia to open a restaurant to start a future for us. One restaurant became two, then three. The last phone call I received from her she sang Only the Lonely for me, she had already been infected with Encephalitis from a mosquito bite by this time, it was the last time I would hear her voice. A few days later I called and her mother who was very upset over the elopement told me Leslie was in the hospital with brain swelling, undiagnosed she would die days later, she was 21. I agreed to an annulment to satisfy her mother's dismay, until now only three living persons know of this, myself, Leslie's mother and the Priest. In 2013, 21 years after Leslie's death I saw Martha Davis and the Motels perform Only the Lonely live, I was with my with my third wife who like my second wife I have yet to share my marriage and annulment from Leslie. When the first note of Only the Lonely rang I cried.
    stevenaqcon November 25, 2016   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThe song is about meeting up with an ex-lover that you know you belong with after some time when at least one of you is with someone else - most likely a chance meeting or an impromptu date. Punctuated by Martha Davis' soulful voice, reflecting her deep pain from her own relationship at the time, the song subtly reveals the unevenness of love as the singer is more deeply in love and thus hurt than her mate. Perhaps she's with no one, and he's having second thoughts about his current mate. Regardless she is alas resigned to her fate (i.e. She can't help but love him) which brings home the tittle "Only the lonely can play".

    With very few words she has painted a picture, the minor almost muted chord structure set on a slow simple but driving bass line / rhythm backbone, which builds as the perfect canvas for Martha's sultry yearning vocal. Like a great book, her description pulls you in, forcing you to see the picture through your own eyes.

    She does this ever so subtly with cues allegorically:
    "We walk the loneliest mile" - her time away from her lover
    "We kiss altogether wrong" - they lost it the first time
    "No intentions" - It wasn't anyone's fault; I don't blame you. And perhaps a whimsical note about how haphazard and random love is.
    "We lie about each other's drinks" - the meaningless small talk they need to break the ice
    "We live without each other, thinking what anyone one would do, without me and you" - Her we'll crafted attempt to be cool not giving all her feelings away, where between the lines she's asking "do you miss me?"
    "So hold on - here we go, hold on to nothing we know, I feel so lonely - way up here" - This is where she drops her facade for a moment, to let him know she's miserable without him
    "You mention the time we were together, so long ago, well I don't remember all I know is it makes me feel good now" - Part regaining her cool with a faux denial that she remembers, yet how can she not remember the deep love? And partly a reflection that she is glad she has those memories: perhaps even real world proof that there's nothing wrong with her as she did find love once.

    Its the subtle words cloaking heartfelt emotions that touch everyone who's ever been in love that make this a timeless song.
    LostInThe80son July 02, 2017   Link
  • +1
    General Commentunderrated song ...

    who hasn't felt this way ...

    "You mention the time we were together
    So long ago, well I don't remember
    All I know
    Is that it makes me feel good now"
    Broken24on July 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI love this song To me this song is aout two lonley people who meet and fill a need they have..
    scanon September 09, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMakes for a GREAT breakup song.
    Karakalpakon September 15, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentClearly Martha spent her share of time alone to be able to write a song like this. Thinking... A LOT.

    It makes you wonder how someone so beautiful and talented could ever feel this way, and then you read about her life: pregnant at 15, then again at 17, her mother a suicide, spent many years in poverty and deprivation chasing her dreams of stardom - never quite finding the right guy.

    The fact that she was able to have even a couple of hits like this one was and is an incredible story of perseverance, if not just plain stubbornness.

    It's amazing in some ways how different this song is from her other hit, 'Suddenly Last Summer'. In that song, the music itself is the real draw, as the lyrics are simplistic and used more as a suggestion of what you should be thinking about.

    This lyrics in this song are far more critical and anyone who's ever felt loneliness can absolutely empathize. Here, Martha reaches out to embrace the emptiness of her life and translate it into words.

    I believe she is writing this to her ex, and anyone who's had to deal with their ex after the relationship is over knows how to 'hold on to nothing we know'. You wonder how you even had a relationship with that person in the first place.

    And yet, when you've spent part of your life with someone, they still know you pretty well, and depending on how amicable the breakup was, maybe you can still talk to them and share. Is it a waste of time to continue to pour your heart out to someone who will no longer be with you romantically?

    Maybe. But maybe it beats being lonely altogether...
    ctlizyrdon April 01, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmy song.

    love this song. too damned true, but I love this song.
    T_D_Phoenixon June 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the best songs of the eighties.
    outsidelookinginon March 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionThis is one of those songs that brings both good and bad memories.
    Reminds me of a young lady I met a long time ago in Hawaii. We dated for a
    couple of months, only to find out...all we had was physical, no intentions...
    She was lonely... I was lonely... (Man...what I would give to go back in time..)
    Should've..Could've. But! Didn't! "It's Like I told You... Only the Lonely can play. "
    Ever time I hear the Song... I go drifting in time...
    VictorMunozJron November 11, 2015   Link

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