What does Payphone mean?

Maroon 5: Payphone Meaning

Tagged: Sex [suggest]
Album cover for Payphone album cover

Song Released: 2012

Payphone Lyrics

I'm at a payphone trying to call home
All of my change i've spent on you
Where Have the times gone baby
It's all wrong, where are the plans we made for two

Yeah, I, I know it's hard to remember
The people we used to be
It's even harder to...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jun 19th 2022 !⃝

    Payphone is all about a failed relationship. It tries to imply that even if he persevered for their relationship of his girl, it just wasn't enough thus making their relationship into a failure. I obviously would not want to explain the whole lyrics of the song, but here's an explantion about its chorus:

    1. "I'm at a payphone trying to call home"
    -This line explains that a man is at a payphone trying to recall the beautiful memories he had with his partner. But instead of it being beautiful, it was rather miserable and that what makes him sad.

    2. "All of my change I spent on you"
    -This line implies about the man's efforts in keeping their relationship afloat but unfortunately failed due to an unexpected circumstance (such as an argument, insecurities, etc.)

    3. "Where have the times gone? Baby, it's all wrong"
    -This line shows the man's "frustration" about why their relationship still couldn't keep up despite all his efforts. At this point, he feels miserable already.

    4. "Where are the plans we made for two?"
    -This line contemplates the man questioning their plans that they made during their relationship such as marriage, having kids, or enjoying life with him/her.

    5. "If 'happy ever after' did exist, I would still be holding you like this"
    -This line explains the man's thinking of a fantasy of their relationship being successful and thus leading it to their best quality of life. I think that this is his way of coping his heartache after their relationship failed, or maybe I'm just dumb at understanding it. Who knows?

    6. "All those fairytales are full of sh*t"
    -This is the part that I'm not sure about. Maybe he doesn't care of other people's interpretation of their relationship and only cares of his own? I'm not really sure...

    7. "One more f**king love song I'll be sick"
    -This line shows that the man just had enough of it and anything that is related to love (such as a love song) just wouldn't help him to move on and just makes him to remember his girl miserably.

    Note: This is just my understanding about this song so take this with a grain of salt. We all have other interpretations of this song and that what makes this song meaningful. <3


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    May 21st 2012 !⃝

    This song is trying to convey the message that no matter how hard he tried to make this relationship work, it failed because his girl didn't care about him. He's at a payphone trying to remember the good times he had in the relationship but as it has gotten worse and worse he gets increasingly frustrated. He can never reach her on the payphone because he can't remember the good times, only the bad.

    Despite being miserable, he can't seem to end the relationship because he still loves her in little ways and he's afraid of being alone.
    He wishes to be back in the past when the relationship was good and he was happy, but he knows this will never happen.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    May 24th 2013 !⃝

    The Payphone is a metaphor.
    In the first chorus, it is saying that he is calling home all the change he spent on that girl- the change is his time, and he has spent and valued all of his time with her,but now those times were gone, and he wants them back home, with him. He misses their valued time together and wants to bring it back. Hes asking the rhetorical question, "where are those times and plans that they made?".

    Yeah, I, I know it’s hard to remember
    The people we used to be...
    It’s even harder to picture
    That you’re not here next to me"

    This stanza is basically explaining the fact that they are not together or with each other anymore, and it feels like now that everything is different it's almost impossible to go back.

    "You say it’s too late to make it
    But is it too late to try?
    And in our time that you wasted
    All of our bridges burned down"

    They keep pushing off their time, and while that was happening, they were drifting apart and the bridges burnt down, and they fell away.

    "I’ve wasted my nights
    You turned out the lights
    Now I’m paralyzed
    Still stuck in that time when we called it love
    But even the sun sets in paradise..."

    All good things come to an end, and the sun is setting in their own paradise, meaning there is going to be a new daylight, a new times, (just likek the song daylight), and they feel like the time has been wasted.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 6th 2023 !⃝

    Read all of them and ya'll got most of it but I want to add a few key points:

    "I'm at a payphone" is a metaphor. Normally you are at a payphone when you are in am extremely dire situation. For example, your car breaks down and you are stranded in an unknown area and you are trying to call for someone to come help you. (Which happens at the end of the video) "Payphone" means his heart has completely broken down and he needs help to get back on his feet. "Trying to call home" means he is trying to get back to his real self as he realizes now he has compromised himself and his own values throughout the relationship.

    He had a great relationship at one time but his woman either cheated on him or fell in love with another man. Because of this sudden betrayal he recognizes that so much of his life was wasted. (All of my change was spent on you) change meaning a whole chapter of his life. Perhaps his 20's or 30's when you are expected to get married and have kids. Maybe now he is too old for kids or doubts that he will ever find the right one to make it work the same level as the last relationship.

    He is not over her and he is also frustrated that he is still in love with her. This makes him revert back in his mind when they were in love, but he acknowledges that things are just not the same. (Even the sun sets in paradise) This is typical after a bad breakup.

    The rap in the middle is genius as this describes the persona he now puts on to the outside world after he got dumped. He would never let people know that he feels so hurt and brokendown. ("Man, fuck that shit!") so, he acts elevated like a celebrity basketball player (the references to "Swish" and "got game". He then makes out his ex as someone who didn't even make the team! He even sarcastically says (such a shame - should have got picked). He goes on to reference in many ways that his status is so above his ex that she barely exists. Then at the end of the rap he belittles her new man - "you can take that little piece of shit with you!" Haven't we all done that? Made out the new BF or GF to be beneath us as we were a much better selection than them!

    I love the video but I think that it is more of a cinematic hero/car chase thriller. However, I feel that the song, lyrics and music are about the brutal process and emotions you go through after the end of a significant relationship.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 16th 2023 !⃝

    I think this song was written to a girl who left a boy that loved him.
    1. I'm at a payphone trying to call home
    This means that the boy used to call the girl at a payphone but remember he was trying but he didn't talk to her which means that he calls coz he still has feelings for the girl but the girl is no where to be seen.
    2. All of my change I've spent on you
    By now he is remembering the dime she used to spend on the girl when they were together.
    3.Where have the times gone baby.
    Like as if he is telling the girl to remember that time when they were so deep in love.
    4. It's all wrong, where are the plans we made for two.
    The boy was not believing what is happening now that's why he said that it's all wrong. He's mind takes him to plans they had made for two whereby by now , the girl is not around.
    5. Yeah I, I know it's hard to remember the people we used to be.
    I think that he said or wrote this to the girl coz she couldn't remember the girl she was at the time was in love with the boy and all she had promised to do with the boy.
    Just know that that's all I had in my mind about that song

  6. anonymous
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    Feb 13th 2022 !⃝

    I think he is at the payphone calling home since he is now homeless. As he lived with his girlfriend before this. And the other parts of the lyrics basically about him can't believe that the relationship once in good shape is now ruined. Hence, he now hates all the fairytales and love song. Sad for him, the plans they made for both of them now becoming dreams.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  7. anonymous
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    Oct 19th 2021 !⃝

    It about a guy who fantasies a girl. he is too coward to talk to her, and the vid proceed to show how them vs the world, it was all a fantasy.

  8. anonymous
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    Oct 3rd 2021 !⃝

    He did everything, in fact risk his life for a girl who played him. He took a crime which involved his girlfriend upon himself just to show how much he cares about her, in return his girlfriend showed no care nor empathy while he was on the run for the crime he didn't commit all in the name of love.

    While on the run he called her regularly and tried making her remember all the good times they had. In spite of his moon and green light she cares less to see how great his love was for her.

  9. anonymous
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    May 30th 2021 !⃝

    This song is about shrek and his tough time building a relationship with fionas father. Shrek tries his best to get along with fionas father but feels as though he is being judged and discriminated because he is an ogre, fionas father has already built an assumption on shrek just because he is an ogre and let other peoples opionions infiltrate his judgement of shrek.

  10. anonymous
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    Nov 6th 2019 !⃝

    It means thats his heart is really broken because of a girl he loved dearly.

  11. anonymous
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    Mar 21st 2018 !⃝

    He did what it takes to make this relationship work but it was only a sound gong... lol

  12. anonymous
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    Sep 27th 2017 !⃝

    He loved her. And she loved him. But it was wrong the whole time.

  13. Inna Fan
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    Jan 14th 2017 !⃝

    "I’ve wasted my nights
    You turned out the lights
    Now I’m paralyzed
    Still stuck in that time when we called it love
    But even the sun sets in paradise..."
    Basically, he wasted his time sleeping with her, and having a relationship or whatever it was. He's sort of shocked; paralyzed. He can't get over what they had.

  14. anonymous
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    Sep 18th 2014 !⃝

    I think he's using the payphone because he's calling from jail. They got in a major fight and he finds himself in jail over it.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
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    Apr 24th 2014 !⃝

    This song is about a man who fell for a Borderline Personality Disordered female. It is pretty straight forward.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  16. anonymous
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    Apr 22nd 2014 !⃝

    He's trying to call his baby to make sure she's okay. Now he's lost and about leave his girlfriend/wife with the plan.

  17. anonymous
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    Mar 31st 2014 !⃝

    You're a freakin multi-millionaire and you're using a pay phone? Can you even find a pay phone any more?

    You haven't paid attention to the relationship like you should have, and now you've taken to whinging about "Happy ever after" and have discovered... (news flash) "Fairy Tales are full of it".

    Give us all a break, and pay someone who can write lyrics that aren't utter non-sensical rubbish to go with your catchy tunes for a change.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  18. anonymous
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    Jan 22nd 2013 !⃝

    he was with this girl he loved and everything was going well. She then decided to cheat on him unleashing unbelievable carnage in both their lives and none of it made any sense. The metaphor is the ridiculous developments caused by her self indulgent thoughtless actions. He steals a gun from hard core criminals to try to escape from the horror and loneliness he is experiencing and then the cops are after him. everything is out of control all caused by the person whom he gave his heart and soul to selling out for some sex.

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