Borderline

Album: Madonna (1983)
Charted: 2 10
  • Something in the way you love me won't let me be
    I don't want to be your prisoner, so baby, won't you set me free
    Stop playing with my heart
    Finish what you start
    When you make my love come down
    If you want me, let me know
    Baby, let it show
    Honey, don't you fool around

    Just try to understand (understand)
    I've given all I can
    'Cause you got the best of me

    Borderline
    Feels like I'm going to lose my mind
    You just keep on pushing my love
    Over the borderline

    Borderline
    Feels like I'm going to lose my mind
    You just keep on pushing my love
    Over the borderline
    (Borderline)

    Something in your eyes is makin' such a fool of me
    When you hold me in your arms, you love me 'til I just can't see
    But then you let me down, when I look around
    Baby, you just can't be found
    Stop driving me away, I just want to stay
    There's something I just got to say

    Just try to understand (understand)
    I've given all I can
    'Cause you got the best of me

    Borderline
    Feels like I'm going to lose my mind
    You just keep on pushing my love
    Over the borderline

    Borderline
    Feels like I'm going to lose my mind
    You just keep on pushing my love
    Over the borderline
    (Borderline)

    Keep pushing me
    Keep pushing me
    Keep pushing my love

    (Keep on pushing my love) come on baby
    Come on darling, yeah (over the borderline, borderline) Writer/s: Reginald Grant Lucas
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group, DistroKid
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 23

  • Scott P from Manchester UkSorry WHAT ?? Borderline is not about orgasm or any relation to sex whatsoever !!!!! Madonna’s primary target back then to plug her music was at teenagers and it was a straight forward pop song and her sexuality at that point was not even at the forefront and wasn’t until ‘Like A Virgin’ came out that kicked off her sexual ambiguity.
    It was written by Reggie Lucas it wasn’t written specifically for Madonna Reggie had written and composed the song the same time as Stephanie Mills ‘Never Knew Love Like This Before’ even the arrangements are literally identical with the Rhodes intro and the chugging guitar sweeps even the backing vocalists all emit from the same formula.
    It is a song basically about yearning to be loved and wanted but is very one sided to the point the recipient has had enough being pushed to the brink of ending it hence the meaning of Borderline.
    There was nothing suggestive about this song it was innocent teen pop fodder as for Madonna “hating” it no she didn’t she was just unhappy over the instrument arrangement by Lucas and wanted it more pop than it’s soulful feel when first recorded.
    If you think of this track that synth bass is the striking rhythm that gives the song it’s hook which the Lucas version didn’t have so the original bass line was removed and the synth one put in its place.
    John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez replaced the instrument arrangement Lucas originally provided and spliced the original with a new mix which had a far more beat driven pop song feel to it more percussion more synth layers added thus keeping the Rhodes piano parts in tact.
  • Roninmd from DallasCite references when supporting your interpretation of a song by Madonna? WTF? You don't need published references to tell people how you interpret a song!!! What kind of self-important idiot does that?

    I live with a person with whom I suspect has borderline personality and yeah every line in this Madonna song is what I hear everyday from this person. I don't abuse her but she is very needy, provocative, and sexually aggressive. Being with a borderline personality truly is an exercise in patience.

    Borderlines tend to wear out their partners so Guy Ritchie and Sean Penn must have their hands full when they were with Madonna in her early years.
  • Robert Paulson from Philadelphia, PaI like many of the guesses here, but there isn't a shred to support what many of the comments are about. It has nothing to do with orgasms, Sean Penn, guy Ritchie, or borderline personality as some have mentioned.

    Here are some facts- It was written before Madonna even met Sean Penn/ Guy Ritchie.

    In fact the song was written by Madonna's producer Reggie Lucas, not Madonna

    "Its lyrics dealt with the subject of a love that is never fulfilled and was written as a rebellion against male chauvinism." wikipedia

    Being that it was written by a male, I think it takes more the general aspect of being emotionally abused. The male chauvinism aspect (which is emotionally abusive) only comes into play because it was song by Madonna - not because of the lyrics itself.

    When a partner with holds love as punishment, it's emotional abuse and its demeaning with such examples as stonewalling, emotional abondonment, and other behaviors can be cold; followed by strong affection which plays head games with the victim.

    The bar is set to high and ones best is never good enough- They are at the mercy of trying to please the abuser giving them all they can destroying themselves in the process. The abusive partners holds the victim prisoner by overwhelming them one moment giving them hope and crushing them in the next moment by abondonment.

    "When you hold me in your arms, you love me 'til I just can't see, But then you let me down, when I look around. Baby, you just can't be found"

    The cycle of emotional abuse is dehumanizing, destroying self confidence, and feeling trapped. Because they love their abuser they can't let it go, and they are pleading to be set free. The last few lines mention at how much the abuse has taken it's toll.

    "Look what your love has done to me
    Come on baby, set me free
    You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline
    You cause me so much pain, I think I'm going insane
    What does it take to make you see
    You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline"

    "Look at what your love has done to me" is really "look at what your (emotional abuse) has done to me." but it's common for a victim in this type of relationship is manipulated by such head games confusing love and abuse as the same word as describing the relationship.

    She is losing her mind knowing that this relationship is destroying her and wants out before she goes insane out of her mind.

    Borderline the song and video has been observed in academia for it's symbolism as well. It's actually rather sophisticated and worthy of a lot discussion that's hidden in just a few lines of what just appears to be another upbeat top 40 pop song.

    It's one of the most artistic thing Madonna has done in her career.
  • Alan from Brooklyn, NySaying this song is about an orgasm or lack thereof is reading too much into it. If she ISN'T actually having an orgasm, then why is he pushing her love OVER the borderline? Wouldn't he just be pushing it near the borderline, then quitting?

    It's much more obviously about a frustrating relationship with a flaky person whose manipulations only make her want him more.
  • Leo from Westminster 1, MdHey Brian! I never knew that! Again with Madonna, her lyrics have multiple meanings and open to interpretation-Borderline could be about her mother's early death or the fights Madonna had with Sean and Guy. Of Course Borderline was written way back in 82 when The First Album was written and recorded-it was written by her first collaborator-Reggie Lucas whom Madonna absolutely hated and despised. The young Madge kept saying to Reggie-"I Wish I could have gotten more variety there...Maybe I should work with a British producer!-I Want a Sound That's Mine!-I'd rather start my own category!" Unfortunately, Lucas had absolutely zero experience working in Pop/Rock because he was schooled in R&B/Funk/Disco. Needless to say, Maddy never saw Lucas again-she'd already sought the likes of Patrick Leonard, Billy Orbit, Mirwais Ahmadzhai, Joe Henry and Stuart Price among others to hone her vision and sound. When Madonna finally revived Borderline in 2008-09 during the Sticky and Sweet Tour with guitar rocking in her hands, she recast her first Top Tenner as an angry Metal Rocker. Sweet revenge and vindication for a Michigan Girl that some doubters thought would amount to nothing. Yet Here Madonna is 30 years later with her Rock Queen Crown still unchallenged. Who's laughing now at the Evita/W.E. Girl? Absolutely no one! You go, Madge Simpson Evita Ciccone!
  • Brian from Chicago, IlThis song could be written about her mother's early death. " something in your eyes... there's something I just got to say." That verse could be talking about how much she misses her mother. Madonna later wrote that whenever she asked her mother what was wrong, her mother would cry and hug her.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnI heard Madonna hated this song, but she did finally perform it on her Sticky and Sweet Tour.
  • Lolo Brown from Gertrude, Bahamasthis song is really about sex? hmm. never noticed.
  • Eugene from Minneapolis, MnThe intro of this record sounds like "Never Knew Love Like This Before" by Stepahnie Mills.
  • Michael from San Diego, CaGood "early MTV" video, of a terrific tune! Madonna was real cute back then, before she got real slutty.
  • Michaela from Brooklyn, NyThis doesn't sound like it's about an orgasm,but the Songfacts don't lie...
  • Inge Berge from Rockport, MaThis song refers pretty obviously to being in a relationship with someone with what's known as "Borderline Personality Disorder" or BPD. It summarizes, in a poppy way, the crazy push-and-pull, emotional inequity of such a relationship, the feeling of being emotionally "trapped" by someone who seems unwilling or unable to return reliable affection as yearned for.

    The lyrics more than hint at an undertone of mental illness: "Lose my mind", "Drive me crazy", "Borderline."

    Along with the mention of the feelings of being a "prisoner of love", love followed by emotional letdown, "playing with my heart", "pushing my love" and sudden emotional unavailability following being "held in your arms" - all the sentiments point towards a commentary on this disorder.

    Of course, it can also serve as metaphor for unsatisfactory sexual relations, but that is one step removed from the more immediate meaning, I think.

    Inge

  • John from Manchester, EnglandThis song reminds me of an ex that i miss so much. After we had got back together (once again!) she played me this song and told me that i pushed her over the boarderline. Thats just one reason i will always enjoy listening to this song. Brings back memorys and is a reminder of what i lost.Besides that,its a really good catchy tune.
  • Tom from Seattle, WaHearing this song again reminds me of what a cool time that was. Everything was music back then. The eighties was a decade hugely influenced by music. It had to do with everything. It was so fun, and this was a great song. The sound dictates the mood then perfectly.
  • Greg from Rye, NyThis about borderline personality disorder!

    greg rye, NY
  • Carrie from Roanoke, VaThis is definitely about almost having an orgasm. Neverteless, I think there's more than physical attraction at work in the relationship, at least on her part. After all, she says, "Stop playing with my heart" which seems to imply that he's manipulating her emotions. Also, she looks for him when he's not around and asks him to stop driving her away. She wants to experience the closeness of a deep emotional relationship and mutual orgasm, but he doesn't seem willing.

    Meanings aside, I really love this song. The opening notes remind me of a music box, which gives it an innocent, plaintive sound. When I first heard it sung, I thought that Tiffany or Debbie Gibson was the artist because of how high the notes were. The "la da da da da" at the end is so beautiful, and it makes me wish the song wasn't ending (just like the singer wishes that the lovemaking wasn't finishing up so soon).
  • Sum Sum from New Delhii like the last part of the song...la la la la la la la la...........la la la la la la...great song. It says not to cross the border or limits when u r in love with someone...actually theres no love..its only physical attraction..thats what the song speaks I beleive.
  • Sam from Chicago, IlOne of my all time favorite songs! Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesOwing to the fact that Madonna says it is about having an orgasm, I would assume she is correct.
  • Jamie from Bethesda, MdYou see...I dont think its about an Orgasm..... Well its obviously about an orgasm...but the Orgams is in fact the Metaphor about the entire relationship in itself....
  • Randy from Cabimas, South America"When you hold me in your arms you love me till I just can't see
    But then you let me down, when I look around, baby you just can't be found"

    unfinished sex, definetely.
  • Randy from Cabimas, South AmericaIts about unfinished sex. his orgasm came before hers.
  • Kristy from Saco, Methis song is NOT about having an orgasm
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."

James Williamson of Iggy & the StoogesSongwriter Interviews

The Stooges guitarist (and producer of the Kill City album) talks about those early recordings and what really happened with David Bowie.

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Tim and his brother Richard are the Furs' foundation; Tim explains how they write and tells the story of "Pretty In Pink."

Brian Kehew: The Man Behind The RemastersSong Writing

Brian has unearthed outtakes by Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello and hundreds of other artists for reissues. Here's how he does it.

Francis Rossi of Status QuoSongwriter Interviews

Doubt led to drive for Francis, who still isn't sure why one of Status Quo's biggest hits is so beloved.

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New YorkSong Writing

Our chat with Barney Hoskyns, who covers the wild years of Woodstock - the town, not the festival - in his book Small Town Talk.