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Meaning of ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ by ‘Foreigner’

Released: 1984

At its core, “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner is a powerful plea from a person who’s seen the rougher side of life, looking to discover the true essence of love. The song juxtaposes heartache and the journey towards understanding love, marked by a distinct sense of vulnerability and hope. It’s an anthem for anyone who’s ever found themselves longing for a connection that transcends the superficial, aiming for something deeper, something real.

Starting off, the narrator admits they need “a little time to think things over,” signaling a moment of reflection amidst life’s chaos. “Better read between the lines” suggests a growing awareness that understanding love requires more than a surface-level interpretation—it’s about grasping the nuanced, often unspoken feelings that come with age and experience. The metaphor of climbing a mountain encapsulates the struggle of carrying life’s burdens while striving to find the warmth of love, a beacon of hope in the coldness of life’s hardships.

In confessing “In my life, there’s been heartache and pain,” the lyrics delve into the narrator’s past struggles, highlighting the fear and uncertainty of facing potential hurt again. Despite this, there’s a determined refusal to give up, fueled by the journey they’ve already undertaken. The repeated plea “I wanna know what love is, I want you to show me” serves as both a chorus and a call to action—a yearning to not only understand love intellectually but to experience its depth and transformational power firsthand.

The closing verses, repeating the desire to truly know and feel love, underscore the song’s central theme of search and realization. By making a direct appeal (“I know you can show me”), the narrator seems to have found a potential guide, suggesting that love might not be so elusive after all. The song ends on a hopeful note, with a sense of anticipation and openness to the love that has seemingly been missing.

In essence, “I Want to Know What Love Is” resonates because it taps into the universal quest for understanding and experiencing genuine love. It speaks to the soul’s deepest longings and the courage to seek out the most profound of human connections, despite past wounds and the fear of vulnerability. It’s a musical journey that mirrors life’s own search for meaning, connection, and the warmth of true love.

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