the weblog of Alan Knox

That Ain’t Love

Posted by on Feb 14, 2008 in love | 7 comments

When I was growing up – back in the day (I’m old, so I can say that now) – I was a big fan of REO Speedwagon, especially their early albums… umm… CD’s. These lyrics are from the first verse and chorus of one of their later songs called “That Ain’t Love”:

[Verse] You tell me what you think I’m feelin’, you know why I do what I do
Why should you listen to a word I’m sayin’, when it’s already so clear to you
You tell me ’bout my bad intentions, you doubt the very things I hold true
I can no longer live with your misconceptions, baby all I can say to you, is

[Chorus:] That ain’t love, I believe you’ve got the wrong emotion
That ain’t love, at least it doesn’t feel like love to me
As long as I say what you wanna hear
Do what you wanna do, be who you want me to be
You think that’s love, well baby that ain’t love to me

While I think that Speedwagon and I have very different understandings of love, there is much truth in this song. The “lover” referred to in this song tries to manipulate the person singing by telling him what to think and what to do. The “lover” does not have to listen to the singer, because she already knows everything. In truth, the “lover” has “misconceptions” about love.

The singer is absolutely correct. Manipulative love is not love at all. Manipulative love – that is, “love” that would manipulate the other person – is truly only “self love”. So, the “lover” – the one being sung to and about – is not demonstrating true love.

But, in reality, the singer is not demonstrating true love either. How do we know? Because the singer is ready to give up on his “lover” because she is not demonstrating true love. Love does not love because it is loved. Instead, true love demonstrates love even when that love is not returned and even when that love is not recognized. Love is not interested in the self, but in the other. Love is not about getting, but about giving.

Of course, none of us can perfectly demonstrate this kind of love. When we attempt to love unconditionally, we will fail. The question is, when we recognize that we are not demonstrating unconditional love, are we willing to admit it and seek forgiveness, or do we simply give up and chalk it up to human imperfections. I think one of those responses demonstrates a trust in God and a reliance on his grace, while the other response demonstrates a trust and reliance on ourselves.

Remember… love is from God.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-14-2008


    The only Reo Speedwagon I was interested in (not the one you mean) predated you by many years.

    From Wikepedia: “The REO Speed Wagon was a motor truck manufactured by REO Motor Car Company. It was an ancestor of the pickup truck. REO are the initials of the company’s founder, Ransom E. Olds, also the founder of the Oldsmobile (company later sold to General Motors and the brand recently retired).”

  2. 2-14-2008

    Amen to that! Good post! 🙂

  3. 2-15-2008

    Aussie John,

    Believe it or not, I am familiar with the REO Speed Wagon to which you refer. In fact, I think the musical group was named for the vehicle.


    Thank you for the kind words.


  4. 2-15-2008

    Alan, Nice use of pop culture to point to the truth of God’s love. My family and I talked about this during family worship yesterday – how asking someone to be your valentine is really asking them to die for you (as St. Valentine died for his Biblical convictions).

  5. 2-15-2008

    The first concert I ever went to was an REO Speedwagon concert. While they were very clever with their lyrics- in the 70′ not the 80’s- you are right there is much more to love than they understand. Still, good thoughts here, even for us who are supposed to know better!

    By the way, you can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish.

  6. 2-15-2008

    Good stuff. And true love gives without any expectation of return, thereby emulating Christ and growing in character, hope, and perseverance.

  7. 2-15-2008


    Well, old pop culture – like back when I was younger. Perhaps soon I can comment on some of the recent movies that I’ve seen. I think you’re absolutley right about love: when we promise to love, we are promising to give our very lives.


    Thanks… now I can’t get the image of the fish with the tuning fork in its mouth out of my mind.


    You said: “true love gives without any expectation of return, thereby emulating Christ and growing in character, hope, and perseverance.” Amen!