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Elton John: Sacrifice Meaning


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Song Released: 1989

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Sacrifice Lyrics

Its a human sign
When things go wrong
When the scent of her lingers
And temptations strong

Into the boundary
Of each married man
Sweet deceit comes calling
And negativity lands

Cold cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Sep 26th 2017 report

    As I understand it, as someone who has known this song inside out for years: The narrator's relationship with his partner is breaking down. He realises this when he becomes attracted to someone else, as he wouldn't be tempted if his relationship with his partner was a good one. Hence, "It's a human sign/When things go wrong/When the scent of her lingers/And temptation strong."
    He feels he must act upon this temptation ("Sweet deceit comes calling") but when he does, his partner finds out and rows break out ("And negativity lands"). As their relationship was already rocky, he had become cynical, ("Cold, cold heart/Hard done by you"), so he doesn't feel any sorrow in cheating. As he puts it, compared to their relationship, "Some things look better" and he intends to move on as he is "just passing through".
    As this relationship had got so bad, giving it up is "no sacrifice". Already, he realises, they are "two hearts living in two separate worlds." So it's not as if they are together anymore in any real sense. Like a lot of couples towards the end, they are living separate lives while just happening to live in the same house. For this reason, ending it, as he reiterates, is "no sacrifice at all."
    After the arguments, the couple do not talk anymore and this lack of communication leads to confusion as to what they both really think. "Mutual misunderstanding/After the fact").
    The woman, it seems, does not want to hear from him: she is too heartbroken; she has heard enough. Hence, "Sensitivity builds a prison/ In the final act." "We lose direction" refers to there being no point to their knowing each other anymore. The aim, originally, had been love but that is off the cards now. "No stone unturned," refers to both lovers' analysis of the relationship, trying to figure out where it went wrong. "No tears to damn you/When jealousy burns" refers, I think, refers to her spite in her retaliation. But the narrator has no tears to demonstrate the break down of their relationship which led to his adultery, as he doesn't give a damn anymore. The loss of their relationship, he repeats, was worthless at the end anyway. Losing it, and exchanging it for a new one with someone else, was "no sacrifice at all."


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 27th 2017 report

    The meaning of the song is clear. It's in the lyrics. And it explained in Wikipedia. "It's no sacrifice at all, it's just two hearts living in two separate worlds" It's no sacrifice to separate. The sacrifice is in resisting temptation, staying together, keeping the love alive, making it work" But both partners have to be dedicated to this.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Apr 22nd 2014 report

    Here is what it might be about:

    It's a human sign
    When things go wrong:
    When the scent of her lingers
    And temptation's strong,

    || It's normal to be tempted by an opportunity
    || outside of a committed relationship.

    Into the boundary
    Of each married man
    Sweet deceit comes calling
    And negativity lands.

    || And when this happens, it's easy to see
    || what's wrong with your primary relationship
    || by comparison to the new opportunity.

    Cold, cold heart,
    Hard done by you...

    || Life with "you" (the singer's spouse) has
    || not been easy, and has made the singer's heart
    || "cold." For a moment, he is blaming his spouse
    || for the temptation of another...

    Some things look better baby,
    Just passing through.

    || But he knows the third person only looks so good
    || because the relationship will be transient.

    And it's no sacrifice,
    Just a simple word.

    || The simple word is "No"; and it is, of course,
    || a sacrifice, though one that must be made.

    It's two hearts living
    In two separate worlds.

    || The spouse will never know or understand what
    || the singer gives up. (Presumably the reverse
    || is true as well.)
    || Also, the "outsider" and the singer live
    || in two separate worlds, as she (or he)
    || cannot be a part of the life the singer has
    || with his spouse.

    But it's no sacrifice,
    No sacrifice,
    It's no sacrifice at all.

    || The singer can't speak of the sacrifice...
    || all one can say to the person one loves is that
    || fidelity is no sacrifice, even though it's not true.

    Mutual misunderstanding
    After the fact:
    Sensitivity builds a prison
    In the final act.

    || (This one is difficult to explain...)
    || Being "sensitive" --- being aware that something is
    || going on --- can trap one in a position where it is
    || difficult to do what is best. Some things cannot be
    || discussed or understood, only accepted and forgiven.

    We lose direction,
    No stone unturned.

    || In the process of analyzing every detail and confronting
    || everything that has happened (or might have happened),
    || we forget about what really matters.

    No tears to damn you
    When jealousy burns.

    || (I think here the singer's spouse has become aware
    || of the real or potential affair and will not be
    || consoled by the singer's insistence that he has
    || rejected the possibility and it is "no sacrifice";
    || she undoubtedly understands that he is not without
    || regret.)
    || Jealousy can blind one to what is best;
    || your tears would tell you what was right
    || if they weren't suppressed by anger.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 9th report

    I think the song and lyrics and video are portraying a man and woman breaking up and the mom/wife leaving the family to pursue her own career because she's self centered, while the husband/dad ends up bringing up their daughter all by himself. At the end, the daughter is all grown and he dances with her.Love your kids and be parents for them.It's no sacrifice at all.

  5. anonymous
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    Dec 8th report

    Beautiful song about breakup of marriage . After I listened to the song and watched the video on YouTube, it seems like the wife doesn’t forgive her husband.Possibly he was unfaithful to her. The husband is trying to fix marriage as years passes. But looks like at the end, the wife has move on and does not want anything to do with him. For her, it’s no sacrifice at all to move on with a new life. For him, that was huge sacrifice losing his love by betraying her.

  6. niloo1352
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    Nov 2nd report

    The song as the music video portrays is about young couple getting separated after they have a baby daughter and the man raises their daughter alone, because his wife chooses her career over family.He is singing it to his daughter, telling her it's no sacrifice at all to bring her up because he loves her.

  7. anonymous
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    Oct 17th report

    I think the interpretation of the song in the video is the most touching. A young beautiful couple have a baby, the woman is suffering from post natal depression and realises she doesn’t want to be a mother and a wife. The young man is trying his best to help her and stop her from leaving but his love is not enough. She wants a different life, she wants success and freedom. He tells her: I understand -go, I’ll bring our daughter up - it’s not a sacrifice for me.

  8. anonymous
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    May 25th 2021 report

    the man's past,came back to hunt his marriage,as he couldn't stop it.The marriage ended,and the couple went their ways.

  9. anonymous
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    Aug 21st 2020 report

    Its a simple word, if its no sacrifice, its love. Love is selfless, it puts ones’ needs aside snd it gives fully and freely.

    Of course it is scary, because it is a devotion beyond ourselves, beyond our own ways, it is no sacrifice because love forgives.

    Its brings two persons together because it creates life, a child, that both parents love. It sometimes create a prison if we forget the relationship between the parents...

    But its no sacrifice, because love is patient and it is willing to compromise. Marriage or relationships are not always easy, but remember what brought you two together,

    Was it sacrifice?

  10. sorayya1956
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    Jul 17th 2020 report

    The song"Sacrifice" is about rocky marriage ending in divorce due to, misunderstanding,lack of communication, jealousy which leads to infidelity at the end.

    The video,however, I believe is completely irrelevant to the song and portrays a different story line.It's just a promo video to attract shallower audience who don't go through the lyrics.Interpreting the lyrics of the song based on the video can be completely misleading.

  11. farideh32
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    Jul 10th 2020 report

    Such a gorgeous song.I'm surprised many interpret it solely as infidelity.It's such an intelligent lyrics and it can apply to any failed relationship.I personally love the last three verses:

    mutual misunderstanding after the fact,

    sensitivity builds a prison in the final

    We loses direction.No stone unturned,

    Seems like the couple tried to salvage the relationship,but love was gone and the separation is inevitable.

    The music video,almost follows the lyrics but I believe there is a role reversal in the storyline. The woman decides to leave her husband and also her baby daughter to start a new life.The man is left to raise the daughter alone.The last scene of the video while Elton sings "It's no Sacrifice at all" and the man dances with her little girl sums it up perfectly.Ofcourse that's my interpretation and I can be wrong.But I don't think there is any right or wrong interpretaion for this masterpiece.

  12. nilmirz
    click a star to vote
    Jul 8th 2020 report

    The person interpreting the video as the man had affair and the wife put him and her child past behind her because of his betrayal, where exactly in the video it shows the guy had affair? and even it did, what kind of insane mother leaves her child to a cheater That makes her million times worse than a cheater himself..Please read your interpretation before posting it.

  13. sara29019
    click a star to vote
    Jul 8th 2020 report

    There is no affair in the video. Just a husband and wife having problems and the wife leaves the husband and her child.At least I did not see any affair.the song is about end of a unhappy relationship not being sacrifice. Not necessarily infidelity.Even though, infidelity can happen at the of any sad relationship.It may suggest,staying in bad relationship for the sake of child, actually hurts her rather than helping her.So, instead of constant fights and blaming games it's better to separate and live in peace and get the join custody of the child.

  14. anonymous
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    May 29th 2020 report

    Actually, if you check The official music video for the song "Sacrifice" on youtube, in the description, it states:starring Supermodel Yasmeen Ghauri and Chris Isaac.

    so, I find it kind of funny that some comments, suggest in the video the man had an affair and his wife couldn't forgive him so she left.That's not what it shows in that video.There is no sign in the video that implies the man was cheating.Actually,If you watch the video you'll see the couple are struggling raising a daughter and looks like the man is poor, they're living in a rundown place. However, she finally leaves both man and daughter and while the man raises their daughter alone, The woman is shown in luxury settings,silk sheets and fancy clothing, The actress who plays the role of the woman is supermodel Yasmeen Ghauri in real life. so it makes more sense if one assume she left her family behind to pursue her career as a model.At the end, it shows she's in elegant clothing in some rich city, while the guy and daughter are still in same poor place and dancing together.The conclusion is>it was no sacrifice for the man to raise his daughter alone.AS Elton sings in final image.and no sacrifice on the womans part

  15. anonymous
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    Apr 21st 2020 report

    Ok, yes you are all right to a degree that's easy enough to figure out. But you're thinking quite small. Elton John knew from a young age that he was gay. When he came out to his mother she harshly said that he basically never be loved and be alone forever. I don't know how long it was after this but he rushed into marriage with a female who was helping in a record of his. He knew it was a mistake of course, going further into drugs and booze until finally after sleeping in separate bedrooms after so long they came to an understanding that it just wouldn't work because they were obviously after different things. Or the same depending how you want to look at it. I believe this song is about that relationship, he was gay she was straight, two separate worlds. But it was written at a time when I don't believe he had officially come out to the world and AIDS was ramping up, not to mention the whole 'gay virus' thing doing it's own damage. And as for the video, people can't handle gay relationships on the streets or in commercials or shows. Making a music video at that time with say representing that exact dilemma. Say a man and woman in a relationship but somehow getting across that he was gay and that's why it wasn't working without being insensitive, trashy or flat out insulting is a fine line. Frankly I watch sense 8 quite frequently because it's beautiful in many ways and I wish more people followed that state of mind

  16. nel
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    Apr 19th 2020 report

    The song is about lack of commitment.to the person,based on the video, suggesting the wife couldn't forgive the man for cheating, so she left him and her child behind,It's just completely nonsense.No mother leaves her child just because her husband was unfaithful.

  17. anonymous
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    Jan 27th 2020 report

    In the song, a man is talking about his deteriorating marriage.
    As he pointed out, things have really gone bad in his marriage that the scent of his partner is gradually and slowly fading away. He can't feel her existence any longer even though they are together. And it is a human sign that when these things happen, any man will begin to look outside and that's when sweet deceit comes calling into the boundary of every married man and negativity towards the relationship will set inn.
    He is saying that his heart has been turned cold and hardened by his partner. Which means he is no longer feeling any emotions for her or no sense of guilt walking the dark road cos the marriage just exists by name sake.
    He is therefore telling his partner that this marriage could not be forever thus, "some things look better just passing through". By those words he means he can't stay in this marriage as long as he could have wanted.
    And opting out is no sacrifice he is making. It's just a simple word "divorce, breakup"
    Cos they are just two hearts leaving in two separate world's.
    According to the second verse, mutual misunderstanding sets inn when he finally discloses the marriage was heading for closure.
    And emotional reaction to that created the distance or space between them:"sensitivity builds a prison"
    And in their final exchanges, they've lost direction. They have destroyed every bit of the relationship and it was beyond fixing.
    He would cry no tears to curse his partner when he gets jealous that she is someone else's.
    Cos his heart is cold and it has been hardened by her.
    So some things look better, just passing through.
    And he is making no sacrifice to save the marriage
    It's just a simple word "breakup/divorce"
    Cos here are two hearts leaving in two separate worlds.

  18. anonymous
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    Jan 21st 2020 report

    The person is in denial by saying it was no sacrifice to lose his marriage by having an affair. It was a tremendous sacrifice in reality. Similar to the song I'm not in love by 10cc.

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