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Soft Cell - Tainted Love - Lyrics Meaning



"Tainted Love" is a song composed by songwriter Ed Cobb that was originally recorded in 1965 by soul singer Gloria Jones. Jones was hailed as the "Northern Queen of Soul" but was more renowned for her romantic involvement with T Rex front man Marc Bolan. She sang background vocals with T Rex from 1973 to 1977. Bolan and Jones had a son together and it was Jones that was driving the automobile that crashed in South London on September 16th, 1977 - killing Bolan.

Some stories indicate that "Tainted Love" intrigued Soft Cell's Marc Almond upon hearing Gloria's version at a dance club in Northern England. Almond has recalled in interviews that his partner in Soft Cell, David Ball, introduced him to the record. Growing up a T Rex fan, Almond was always fascinated by the fact that Marc Bolan's girlfriend was singing the song. Almond and Ball were looking for an interesting song to use as an encore at their concerts. Ball was a huge fan of Northern Soul and loved the uniqueness of an electronic synth-pop band performing a soul song. The record label wanted them to record the song and the band agreed. The label had made it clear that this was Soft Cell's last chance to make something happen.

Suddenly the song was all over radio in the U.K. in 1981. The band's visibility was heightened by a performance on television's Top of the Pops. The song reached number one on the U.K. singles charts. One year later, the song cracked the Top 40 in the U.S., where it peaked at number 8.

Soft Cell's version had a darker edge than Gloria's version. Despite being a "cover song", Soft Cell's synth-pop approach practically made the song theirs. Jones has gone on record saying that she thinks Soft Cell recorded the best version of "Tainted Love." The band altered one lyric, as Cobb's written song had a line that said, "And you think love is to play, but I'm sorry I don't play that way." The Soft Cell version changes "play" to "pray."

As is often the case with song lyrics, people sometimes interpret words completely wrong. Because of Almond's known homosexuality, and the song's popularity in dance clubs at the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, there was a feeling within the gay community that "Tainted Love" was a reference to AIDS or other STDs. These people were unaware that "Tainted Love" was a song written some 17 years earlier.

The lyrics pretty much describe a romance where one individual has given more love than their partner. They are losing faith that this relationship will provide them with the healthy rewarding love that they covet. The song is a their message to the partner that they have had enough and are essentially running away from a love that has turned sour and is no longer fulfilling.




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