Like their breakout hit "Linger
," this rocker from the fourth Cranberries album takes on a guy who did not hold up his end of a relationship. Lead singer Dolores O'Riordan
wrote "Linger" about her first love; that song finds her appealing to his empathy, whereas "Promises" finds her much more combative, warning the guy:You better hold on to your promises
Because you bet, you'll get what you deserve
The song makes reference to "eternal vows," indicating it's about a divorce, and based on a relationship she either made up or observed. At the time, she had been married about five years.