The opposite of love isn't hate - it's indifference. In this song, that thin line that separates love and hate are crossed.
The song is written from the perspective of a guy whose woman is really good to him despite his blatant indiscretions. In the first verse, when he comes home at 5 a.m., she hangs up his coat and hat, asks if he's hungry, and never questions where he's been. But then we hear some sage advice:
Don't think you can keep breaking a woman's heart
We don't know the details, but the second verse finds him in the hospital, and it's clear she put him there. He didn't think she had it in her.
Songs about domestic violence rarely get much airplay (an exception: "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)
" by The Crystals), but this one makes no mention of how the guy ended up in the hospital, which keeps it more abstract. A common reaction to the song is, "he deserved it."
This song was written by the brothers Richard and Robert Poindexter, along with Robert's wife, Jackie Members. The Poindexter brothers, who also produced the track, also wrote the Linda Jones songs "Give My Love A Try" and "Hypnotized." They also wrote a song called "(My Girl) She's a Fox" that was recorded by The Icemen and featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar. That one was sampled by John Legend on his 2006 song "Slow Dance
The Persuaders were a New York group originally known as The Internationals. In the late '60s, a shifty promoter lured them to England and had them impersonate a group called The Showstoppers, who had a UK hit called "Ain't Nothing But A House Party." After coming back to America, they took a hiatus and returned as The Persuaders, signing a deal with Atlantic Records. "Thin Line Between Love And Hate" was released as their first single and was the title track to their debut album. They reached the Top 40 once more, with "Some Guys Have All The Luck," which reached #39 in 1973. Rod Stewart had more luck with that one, taking it to #10 in 1984.
The Pretenders recorded a popular version of this song on their 1984 album Learning to Crawl. In their rendition, Chrissie Hynde sings from the perspective of the woman pushed over the line. Released as a single, it is the only version of the song to chart in the UK, reaching #49. It also made #83 in America.
In 1996, Martin Lawrence starred and directed in a film called A Thin Line Between Love And Hate, where he plays a liar/philanderer who gets his comeuppance in a big way.
The Houston R&B group H-Town revived this song in 1996, taking it to #37 in the US with the version used in the movie of the same title. Other popular covers were recorded by The Lost Generation and Annie Lennox.
This was a #1 hit on the R&B chart for two weeks in October 1971.
This song brought the title phrase into the popular lexicon. Regarding how he handled racism, James Brown once said, "It's a thin line between love and hate and I always knew that line." They saying is sometimes heard as "fine line between love and hate."