“What is love if it’s not with you?” Soulful crooner Jaymes Young poignantly poses this question in his 2022 single, delving into love’s complex nature. While only in his late 20’s, Young’s insightful lyrics read like someone who has already lived through the ecstasy and agony of numerous relationships.
Beyond the surface-level interpretation, deeper analysis reveals the multi-layered messages encoded within “What Is Love” – confronting the notions of love as ownership, sacrifice, source of purpose and more. Through poetic vulnerability and hypnotic vocals, Young untangles love’s double-edged sword. Read on for a comprehensive breakdown decoding the meanings in this evocative examination of modern romance.
Exploring Notions of Love as Possessiveness
The chorus asks “What is love if it’s not with you?” – confronting traditional views of love as exclusively “with” one person. Young challenges this notion of love as possession in the lyrical subtext:
“Now you’re gonna be with me” implies forced ownership rather than mutual connection. References to “strings attached” and “ties that bind” criticize relationships as shackles rather than gifts. Lyrics like “Whatever I want, you’ll do” and “When I call, you come running” signal unhealthy power dynamics, not equal partnership.
By exposing these problematic perspectives on attachment, Young argues for a healthier, unconditional approach to loving freely without “owning” the other.
Examining Love as Source of Purpose
Young repeatedly asks “What is love if it’s not moving heaven for you?” He probes society’s tendency to make romantic love the end-all purpose in life:
The line “I’ll be your shelter in this hurricane” shows how some make their partner their sole focus in hopes of fulfillment. But Young warns against looking externally without tending your inner self, singing “If you can’t face yourself, you’ll waste all your precious time.”
Young implies that while partnerships can enrich life, true meaning must come from within – “You are still the air in your own lungs.” He cautions against basing your entire identity and reason for being on someone else’s reciprocation.
Analyzing Notions of Love and Sacrifice
Young also confronts the idea of requiring sacrifice to prove love:
The verse “I’ll burn my kingdom down just to keep you warm” implies destroying parts of oneself and personal priorities to please someone else. However, lines stating “Though it does you no good just to do what you’re told” argues against losing autonomy or dignity in the name of love.
According to Young, healthy devotion means lifting both partners up, not sacrificing core values and needs. True care should “ignite the light inside your soul” he sings – not demand depletion and compromise.
Exploring Love as an Act Rather Than Emotion
Most profoundly, Young distinguishes love as an action rather than mere emotion. Consider these piercing lyrics:
“Love ain’t some waiting game, or a single word we exchange” implies love is more than butterflies and chasing feelings. “It’s the one real promise I can make you” frames real love as an unbreakable commitment embodied through behavior.
Young declares love is ultimately “Made of everything I say and do” – a deliberate continual set of choices, not just a passive mood. With poetic insight, he makes a profound case for love proven only through actions.
In “What is Love,” Jaymes Young unravels fundamental assumptions about modern romance – that it should monopolize identity, require sacrifice, and be defined by emotions alone. With equal parts vulnerability and wisdom, Young argues for a healthy love founded on autonomy, internal purpose, and daily action to uplift each partner.
By deconstructing both toxic and virtuous relationship dynamics, this anthem encourages listeners to re-examine how to give and receive love in empowering ways. Young proves that only through courageously questioning everything can we find meaningful answers about matters of the heart. His introspective artistry inspires a generations disillusioned by love to believe once again.