Song Analysis “Love for a Child” – Jason Mraz

One of my readers suggested that I write an analysis of this song, “Love for a Child.” I love the song and thought it was a great idea.

There’s a picture on my kitchen wall
Looks like Jesus and his friends involved
There’s a party getting started in the yard
There’s a couple getting steamy in the car parked in the drive
Was I too young to see this with my eyes?

[He’s thinking back to his childhood. He sees a picture that might be a print of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” He sees a couple making out in a car in the driveway. He’s wondering if he was too young to see what he saw. I’m not sure if he means that he shouldn’t have seen the couple because he was so young or that he couldn’t possibly have remembered what he saw because it happened so long ago.]

By the pool last night, apparently
The chemicals weren’t mixed properly
You hit your head and then forgot your name
And then you woke up at the bottom by the drain
And now your altitude and memory’s a shame
[It sounds like someone, probably one of Mraz’s parents, had an accident in a swimming pool. Anyone who’s owned a pool knows you have to add chemicals regularly to keep it clean. But the chemicals, which include chlorine, can be pretty toxic to humans. The last line in this stanza is a bit cryptic. If one’s memory is “a shame,” that could mean that the accident damaged the person’s brain. Or it could mean that the accident in the pool became a shameful memory.]
What about taking this empty cup and filling it up
With a little bit more of innocence?
I haven’t had enough, it’s probably because when you’re young
It’s okay to be easily ignored
I like to believe it was all about love for a child
[He’s talking about growing up and losing his innocence. He wishes he could get some of it back.]
And when the house was left in shambles
Who was there to handle all the broken bits of glass?
Was it mom who put my dad out on his ass or the other way around?
Well I’m far too old to care about that now

[He’s recalling his parents breaking up. He can’t even remember who threw whom out of the house. He’s saying that now he’s an adult he shouldn’t care about that, but he seems to be saying that ironically since a divorce can affect a person for the rest of his or her life.]

What about taking this empty cup and filling it up
With a little bit more of innocence?
I haven’t had enough, it’s probably because when you’re young
It’s okay to be easily ignored
I’d like to believe it was all about love for a child

[He’s talking about how he lost his innocence which makes more sense now that he’s mentioned his parents’ divorce. Clearly when parents divorce while the child is at a young age, it can affect the child’s ability to believe in things like happiness and miracles. He says he’d “like to believe it was all about love for a child.” He means he wants to think that his parents divorced out of love for him because they thought it was the best decision for the family.]

It’s kinda nice to work the floor since the divorce
I’ve been enjoying both my Christmases and my birthday cakes
And taking drugs and making love at far too young an age
And they never check to see my grades
What a fool I’d be to start complaining now
[As he gets older, he looks at the divorce differently. In some material ways it is better for him, as evidenced by “both my Christmases and my birthday cakes.” But he also sees negatives. Without the stability of a two-parent household, he’s left without supervision. He turns to drugs and sex. No one seems to care about how he does in school. Please note that it’s not me that’s saying this about divorce – it’s Jason Mraz. Also, this is just an artistic impression of one divorce and it does not mean that all divorces necessarily have the same results. He says he’d be foolish to complain about the divorce now, presumably now that he’s an adult. But there’s irony here too. Isn’t it possible that he’d be a happier, more well-adjusted adult today if his parents had found a way to stay together? There’s really no way to know.]
What about taking this empty cup and filling it up
With a little bit more of innocence
I haven’t had enough, it’s probably because when you’re young
It’s okay to be easily ignored
I’d love to believe it’s all about love for a child

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  1. #1 by jawaharlal on October 7, 2008 - 6:43 am

    man, ive been following you since your xanga days. solid stuff man, solid stuff.

  2. #2 by tanthalas on December 1, 2008 - 4:36 pm

    I kind of interpreted the bridge a little differently – maybe a little more literally. He’s talking as if he were the adolescent with divorced parents. So I view the line “What a food I’d be to start complaining now” as spoken by his adolescent self. After all, what teenager doesn’t want the freedom to do anything he wants (i.e. do drugs, have sex) and not have to worry about his grades in school?

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