"Modern Love" as written by and D. Bowie....
I know when to go out
Know when to stay in
Get things done

I catch a paper boy
But things don't really change
I'm standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye
But I try, I try
There's no sign of life
It's just the power to charm
I'm lying in the rain
But I never wave bye-bye
But I try, I try
Never gonna fall for

(Modern love) walks beside me
(Modern love) walks on by
(Modern love) gets me to the church on time
(Church on time) terrifies me
(Church on time) makes me party
(Church on time) puts my trust in God and man
(God and man) no confession
(God and man) no religion
(God and man) don't believe in modern love

It's not really work
It's just the power to charm
I'm still standing in the wind
But I never wave bye bye
But I try, I try
Never gonna fall for

(Modern love) walks beside me
(Modern love) walks on by
(Modern love) gets me to the church on time
(Church on time) terrifies me
(Church on time) makes me party
(Church on time) puts my trust in God and man
(God and man) no confession
(God and man) no religion
(God and man) don't believe in modern love

(Modern love) walks beside me
(Modern love) walks on by
(Modern love) gets me to the church on time
(Church on time) terrifies me
(Church on time) makes me party
(Church on time) puts my trust in God and man
(God and man) no confession
(God and man) no religion
(God and man) I don't believe in modern love

Modern love (modern love)
Modern love (modern love)
Modern love (modern love)
Modern love (modern love)
Modern love (modern love)
Modern love (modern love)
Modern love (modern love)
Modern love (modern love)
(Modern love)
(Modern love)
(Modern love)
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks beside me
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks on by
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks beside me
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks on by
(Modern love)
Never gonna fall for
(Modern love)
(Modern love)


Lyrics submitted by capitol76

"Modern Love" as written by David Bowie

Lyrics © TINTORETTO MUSIC

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Modern Love song meanings
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60 Comments

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  • +14
    General CommentOK, Bowie and Linkin' Park aside, this song is simply a great song, if albeit confusing.
    My take on it is this:
    Bowie is reluctant to go out and try dating/sleeping around, but he's single and knows he can't just "stay in".
    He meets someone but it's all the same and they're all talk ("I'm standing in the wind"). As much as he want's to, when they split his apathy won't even allow him to wave goodbye.
    He meets someonne else. He realises the dating scene is all about turning on the charm. He feels like he's drowning ("lying in the rain") and when the eventual split comes, again apathy.
    He still keeps on trying.

    Bowie cleverly uses "gets me to the church on time" to mean that his shallow relationships drive him to find answers in church instead of leading to a church wedding (the normal use of the phrase).
    He's welcomed into the church ("make me party") and puts his belief in God. However, he feels no presence of God ("no confessions...no religion") and he realises that the preaching is juts another charm offensive and all talk. He's entered another loveless relationship so he turns his back, walks and doesn't wave goodbye.

    In the end he's untimately left disappointed by all Modern Love and all relationships. Be they: Man/woman; man/man; man/God.
    Rosco P. Coltraneon March 15, 2006   Link
  • +7
    General CommentThe religion thing seems pretty clear to me - faith should have never been institutionalised. Once it becomes an organisation, like church, dogmas arise and the whole faith turns into "being in church on time every sunday". Plus wars and power over people. David said that in interviews from 70s-80s that he believes in energy but he wouldn't put a name on it (God). I think that's because of the whole institution - church.
    The rest of the song is in my opinion about looking for a purpose in life. Like - you do lots of thing rather automatically and at the end of the day you question yourself if this is really what you're supposed to do, if this is how you want to fulfill your life.
    The modern love part is probably about commitment-free relationships that give you pleasure for a while and then leave you empty.
    Ashtray-girlon July 08, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's about trying to put your faith in something and it not working. His relationships all fail, so he goes to church for guidance. He doesn't find it, so he goes back out and gets his heart broken again. It's a vicious cycle of him trying to find something meaningful and never being able to. Modern love fails him. God fails him. Yet he still succumbs to both, hoping things will change.
    devilchild8389on March 10, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song has nothing to do with religion. It's about marriage, and love. He contradicts himself on purpose, in order to demonstrate what "modern love" is, which is a changing thing. He believes in it, and he doesn't. He believes he'll get married whilst thinking that it's impossible because of modern love.
    zhe-neechon January 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationWell after reading what you guys had to say, I went back and re-read the lyrics. This has always been a song that has captured my interest though I never knew its meaning. So here's my take after thinking about it a bit:

    I think what he's trying to say is that he obviously hates modern love. Relationships bomb out, he cant keep a girl, etc. Modern love and the girls involved will date him (walk beside him) then leave him (walks on by). Modern love isn't so much hard work as it is the power to impress the girl you're with. The church reference to me is about getting to the alter before he's too old so he can have kids and that kinda stuff. His God and man line is referring to the distance that man has made from god through modern love. Modern love teaches that you dont have to feel guilt or be religious in general. He also states that God and man don't believe in modern love. I think this just says that a lot of people dont like the direction of modern love, including God. I dont think this is anti-religious because I believe Bowie belongs to a religion, though I dont know which one.
    PerfectEighton April 04, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI CATCH A PAPER, BOY! BUT THINGS DONT REALLY CHANGE
    - modern love, making a reference to reading the paper and there really is no news to read about. thinking modern love is lame and uninteresting.

    NEVER WAVE BYE BYE - i guess this means he cant bring himself to end the relationship, BUT I TRY

    THERES NO SIGN OF LIFE, ITS JUST THE POWER TO CHARM - exactly how it sounds, theres no more liking somone for who they are its all about how you look and act, putting on a show just to pick-up

    IM LYING IN THE RAIN - making refference to the earlier comment about standing in the wind, now lying in the rain, almost completly giving up.

    as for the religious comments i think it means having no faith in modern love.

    of course you can interpret it differently, thats just how i see it.


    reknub84on February 26, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think a lot of people are taking things too literally (what the backup singers are saying while he sings each part of the chorus).

    The "hook" of this song is how it's cyclical. The way I always hear this song, it's about a guy and his conflict between "modern" cosmopolitan relationships and more "traditional" ones that still hold some draw.

    On one hand you have modern love. No religion (tradition, maybe outdated and stodgy) and no hangups. It's freeing and liberated. It can be amazing when you have truly uninhibited love with someone...

    ...but at the same time that other side of you. Maybe it's upbringing. Maybe just tradition. Either way it's the desire for stability and safety that those traditions imply. "Gets you to the church on time" is a reference to getting married. The whole cliche is about making sure the bride or groom make it to the church on time.

    That's where the cycling choral verses start to represent the thoughts of a young guy who is trying to find just what he really wants. Modern love is cool. It makes you happy and feels cool. You think you're happy but then you start to settle down and you think that maybe you want to marry. This terrifies you and brings a load of anxiety because you may not have thought that far ahead so your reaction is to go party and deny what you don't want to acknowledge. So before the relationship goes down that path toward stability (and maybe stagnation) you reject it all and go back to modern love...starting it all over again.

    This sticks out because it's a cycle I've seen and experienced first hand. (hence tagged as personal interpretation). On one hand, freedom and liberation leads to passion and love. That naturally leads to talk of settling down which can be scary and restricting. As a young guy, that makes you want to react by rejecting all of that and splitting off to become single and repeat the process again.

    Always dug this song. As a kid I just liked the upbeat tune with the dark lyrics. Now it hits all too close to home. Too bad I'm not David Bowie and can't just keep that cycle of arrested development going forever, huh? ;)
    serlentcerlaon January 06, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHAHAHA.

    i can't believe someone compared this to LINKIN PARK.
    lauralaurenton February 17, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is my favorite bowie song after china girl. im obsessed with both because of the upbeat swing to the tune along with a darkness in the lyrics. i think its about having faith. to believe in something like love and god u hav to surrender to a certain vulnerability that there may be nothing on the other side of your leap of faith. modern love appears souless n fruitless for him yet he keeps trying and because he has faith it gets him to the church on time - going to church culd be doing the right thing, despite the world we live in there is often a driving force behind us hoping that love and god will come thru for us someday. thats what it means to me. i love it.
    gillianbon June 15, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwell in my opinion , the song get continued in 2 different phases . one about the Cycles , that i agree with all of you , that its about Putting Trust in Modern Love , and getting disappointed , and Putting Trust in The Love That Human Called it " Greater " Than Modern Man Love , that he calls it symbolic " Church " , but he continues that well Religion is made by Man Again , so its Modern and He Dont Believe in Modern Love .
    but about the 2nd phase , i believe that he mentions " Optimistic View " about the world too , that He Will Never Wave ByeBye , And He Tries Again and Again ( about Love and anything else ) ; that he says " im Standing in The Wind / im Lying in The Rain " ( explaining Hard Conditions of Community That Makes Sadness/Depression ) " But He Never Waves ByeBye " ( he never stops trying ) . at last as Bowie Himself Says " A Piece Of Art is Not Finished Until The Audience Come To it And Put Their Own interpretation . " ( can be referred also to Conceptual lyrics and the lyrics which you can interprete in your own way ) , i Put my interpretation here that i think " I KNOW WHEN TO GO OUT , AND WHEN TO STAY IN " is somehow about When To Follow Your Own Mind/instinct And When To Follow People's ideas ( Like the people called Prophets ) and Like Faith in God .. i mean he's admitting his smartness .
    solfaon September 26, 2007   Link

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