It's not open to discussion anymore
He's out again tonight and I'm alone once more
He's all I have worth waiting for
But baby plays around
And so it seems I've always been the last to know
To hold on to that girl, I had to let her go
I wish to God I didn't love her so
'Cos baby plays around

I try to be strong hold on to my pride
He doesn't even know it's wrong, how much
I hurt inside
And heaven knows I've tried
But baby plays around. Just a plaything
It's hard to reconcile the facts I'm facing

It's not open to discussion anymore
She walks those shiny streets
I walk the worn out floor
She's all I have worth living for
Baby plays, baby plays around


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Baby Plays Around Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello Cait O'riordan

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group

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Baby Plays Around song meanings
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  • 0
    General Comment

    Wow. How can this song be up here for 2 and a half years without explanation. Here's my go at it. This is, perhaps, my favorite heartbrake song of all time. Costello has this way of being poetic without esotericism. He can craft words so beautifully and perfectly and not lose you in their meaning. Brilliant. So imagine...

    A man who's in his unlit apartment. He's finaly come to grips with the fact that his 'significant' is 'playing around.' What's brilliant in the way this song is crafted is how well you can understand this man. He's known all along, but his head is finally telling his heart and he's coming to grips with reality. "It's not open to discussion anymore...no more excuses, no more justification...this is real.

    So he's in his apartment pacing the living room waiting for her to get home. His desparate pining just wrings my heart out. For me, the most telling line in the song is, "She walks those shiny streets I walk the worn out floor." His worry and heartache is pacing a wear into the carpet -- and she's off in blis somewhere. "To hold on to that girl, I had to let her go." He's so desparate over her that he lets her free to 'play around,' as it were, and look the other way. To keep her as 'his' he has to give her over to other suitors.

    So to whomever reads this. Listen again. Turn down the lights and put yourself in this man's shoes. Watch him in his dim apartment. Look out his window at the exciting city and rain below. And imagine as he's experiencing.

    Elvis Costello is a genius (even though his wife, at the time, wrote the song...). He can suck me into the middle of his stories... He peints enough of a picture to give you a skeleton and allows us to imagine the rest. Master of his craft...

    camsnaon February 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This song was actually written by Costello's wife (at the time) Cait O'Riordan, who played bass for The Pogues before meeting him.

    On a BBC special, Everything About Spike, in 1989 Costello explains that he didnt want to make the song a cliche and wanted it to stay simple, which it is and the lyrics are easily understood.

    I know the song is easy to understand and my comment sounds repeated and hasnt added much to help just thought I'd comment. :) Amazing song.

    Tick....Tockon August 14, 2008   Link

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Well, in my opinion this song is about being a young & maybe a little naive &/or introverted girl and finding yourself loving a man who is at first very charming, carefree & outgoing, and seems at first to be without limits, as in "There was a time you opened up every doorway you didn't mind if everything wasn't your way" then that man starts to gradually become more introverted & shows their more possessive/obsessive side to you as the relationship progresses, even while they keep up the appearance of being carefree & outgoing to everyone else, "Don't pull away that goes against what you told me I look in your eyes I realize what you've sold me is love in a vacuum" so you confront them about the way they're acting and of course they deny it, "I think you've changed but you insist that that's not true" quite possibly they are an addict of some sort, my guess would be cocaine, &/or showing very obsessive behavior towards you (early on in the video for this song we see the man hanging a picture up, it is a very large portrait of Aimee & it is prominently displayed in his/their apartment for the duration of the song), thus their "love in a vacuum", "You look so strange, so distant that you're hardly you Now I can see how you have been acting different You say it's me but I know that it isn't it's love in a vacuum" but still you are in love with them and don't want to leave them and you know that they are truly in love with you and they don't want you to leave them either, maybe they are convinced you can save them from themself, maybe they are so broken that the possibility of an overdose &/or suicide attempt is very real and you want to get through to them that their behavior not only dangerous but it is also just pissing you off and if they don't wise up they run the risk of loosing you, as in the lines "You will be lonely if you leave me alone", so you want to save them but can't get through to them due to the addiction &/or emotional problems they have, "Love in a vacuum and that's not enough love in a vacuum You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way You will be lonely if you leave me alone You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough" you want them to understand that the love they are giving you is not enough when it is filtered through the vacuum of their drug addiction &/or emotional impairment, "You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough and just wait you will be lonely Love in a vacuum Love in a vacuum and that's not enough Love in a vacuum". 'Love In A Vacuum' for me is a hauntingly truthful acute argument on the loneliness of obsession and almost inevitable loss of love that follows people who are broken in some way or another; the obsessives, the coke heads, the drunks, addicts or the just-plain-old emotionally broken; a razor sharp, lyrically driven, deceptively poppy, yet ultimately-depressing-in-the-best-way song. Quintessential Aimee Mann.