This Is Not a Love Song

Album: This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get (1983)
Charted: 5

Songfacts®:

  • On this song, Public Image Ltd. lead singer John Lydon takes the persona of a corporate fat cat, arrogantly explaining how he knows what's best. It is, of course, satire. Lydon rarely got on well with any of his corporate overlords and takes a dim view of big business.

    It's a theme that remained relevant decades later; in our 2015 interview with Lydon, he discussed the song. "Big business considers itself very wise, when in fact, it's not," he said. "It's a headless chicken of greed and selfishness and all of the things that make life for the rest of us unbearable."
  • Lydon came up with the title and concept for this track after someone at his record company asked him about writing a nice, marketable love song. This song was a response to that request.
  • PiL drummer Martin Atkins and guitarist Keith Levene wrote the music for this track, while Lydon supplied the lyrics. They recorded the song in 1982-1983 during sessions for the This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get album, but Levene left the band before the album was completed, and a new version was recorded for the album. This leaves two distinct versions of the song, best identified by which one has a horn section.

    The horn version is the one on the album (recorded without Levene), and issued as a 12" single in Europe and Japan - this is also the one edited down as a 7" single. The other version appears on the B-side of the 12" single as "Re-Remixed Version," and is the one used in the video. This version appears as "Love Song" on Commercial Zone, a 1984 album of recordings Levene took from the This Is What You Want sessions that he released without consent.
  • This really isn't a love song: we know because Lydon repeats the title 44 times.
  • The video was filmed in Century City, a flashy business area in Los Angeles with lots of tall buildings. Lydon plays the role of a tycoon, riding around in a classic car as he looks over his kingdom. According to Lydon, the car wasn't as nice as it looks: it was assembled from a kit with an old Ford engine used to power it.
  • This was the biggest hit for Public Image, Ltd., reaching #5 in the UK. Lydon was surprised the song was so popular, as he felt it was the most spiteful song he'd ever written.

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