Love’s a funny thing. A catch-all ingredient for pop songs – particularly these pop songs, at this time – the word can stand for anything from a pang of mild yearning to physical passion to an all-encompassing mystical force. This song starts as gentle persuasion – nudging someone away from making a bad romantic decision – and then midway turns into an editorial scolding “lovers of today”. Apparently said lovers will give their love to anyone who says “I love you” – surely not a dig at any other bands? The tension – and the clumsiness – in the song is in the way it shifts between love as a unique commodity (“you might need it some day”) and love as a trinket.
In the end it’s hard not to read the record as a pro-virginity message dressed up in (yes, very pretty and tender) pop trappings. That’s fair enough – coded discussions of going all the way aren’t uncommon in 60s pop. But a record like The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” locates the question in the first person and in a moment of decision and is much more potent for it. “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” – also originally a Shirelles track – is more impersonal and so never escapes the shadow of wagging fingers.