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Released: 2012

“Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers seeps a narrative that’s steeped in the universal theme of love’s adversity—capturing the heartache, the ecstasy, and the painfully enduring nature of affection. The narrative plays out an eloquent exploration of love as a paradox—its ability to inflict deep wounds and yet, act as an indelible force binding us to our beloved.

The opening verse presents us with a flawed lover, who is deceitful and destructive – “She’ll lie and steal and cheat / And beg you from her knees / Make you think she means it this time”. Yet, the protagonist’s love for her remains staunch and unwavering. This sets the stage for what the song is essentially about—an unyielding love in the face of hardships.

Next, through the phrases “When we were young / Oh, oh, we did enough / When it got cold / Ooh, ooh, we bundled up”, the song dips into a pool of nostalgic longing. These lines represent the happy times they spent together in the past—times when their love was flourishing and powerful enough to weather the “cold” harshness of life. The statement “I can’t be told / Ah, ah, it can’t be done” emphasizes the singer’s stubborn refusal to accept defeat, to let go of the love he has been nourishing. The verse encapsulates this relentless love through the line, “It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all”.

The chorus, with its repetitive plea to “Keep your head up, keep your love” is a beacon of hope. It suggests the protagonist’s constant encouragement to his significant other to remain strong, to persist, and to keep their shared love alive, even in the face of adversity.

Later on, the singer admits, “I don’t blame ya dear / For running like you did all these years”. It’s the acknowledgment of the woman’s escape from a love synonymous with pain, and yet, the protagonist affirms that he would’ve done the same. He also admits that despite the clear signs, he chose to turn a blind eye, “The highway signs say we’re close / But I don’t read those things anymore / I never trusted in my own eyes”—a metaphor for his conscious denial of the grim realities that plagued their relationship.

“Stubborn Love” is an honest examination of love’s complexities. The narrative woven by The Lumineers holds up a mirror to the often paradoxical reality of love—it can both heal and wound; it can uplift and devastate. But the protagonist’s stubborn love persists, at once a testament to enduring human resilience and the indomitable power of love.