I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" by ZAYN and Taylor Swift mean?

What does "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" by ZAYN and Taylor Swift mean?

"I Don't Wanna Live Forever" Lyrics Meaning

Taylor Swift and ZAYN just dropped their new duet "I Don't Wanna Live Forever." The song's going to be part of the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack, and it's intense. The song's musical aspect is smooth and rich and interesting. The lyrics, on the other hand, are very simple and straightforward--they're about a relationship that didn't work out the first time around.

The song seems to mirror the plot of the book Fifty Shades Darker, in which one main character is estranged from the other and eventually gives the relationship another chance. The song is sung as a duet between ZAYN and Taylor Swift who represent different sides of the relationship.

Verse 1

In the first verse, ZAYN begins narrating the story by singing from the male perspective. He sings, "Been sitting eyes wide open behind these four walls, hoping you'd call." He's afraid to leave his room. He doesn't want to miss a call from his love interest, and he's a little stressed out about it. He continues, "It's just a cruel existence like there's no point hoping at all." He's doubtful anything will come of it, and he'd almost rather give up on the whole idea of her coming back to him.


In the next stanza, ZAYN continues, "Baby, baby, I feel crazy, up all night, all night and every day." She's got him in a state of anxiety as he waits to hear from her--to know if the relationship will continue. He wants her to "[g]ive [him] something, oh, but you say nothing." He wants encouragement or a relationship, but she is not yet forthcoming.

He finishes the pre-chorus by asking, "What is happening to me?" He wants to know why he's feeling what he's feeling. He has nothing else to do as he waits, so his thoughts have become introspective, and he now analyzes himself.

When Taylor Swift later adapts the pre-chorus to her character's story, she sings, "I gave you something, but you gave me nothing," suggesting that she sees things differently. She claims she did give something, but didn't get anything back for that.


In the chorus of "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," ZAYN sings, "I don't wanna life forever 'cause I know I'll be living in vain." Life without her will mean nothing to him, even if it was immortal life. She brings meaning into his life, and he can't see himself giving up on that. He doesn't "wanna fit wherever" and be in a relationship with "just anybody." He has a very specific vision of where he belongs. He sings, "I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home." The fact that he calls himself "home" means that he estimates very highly his own fitness for being her partner in this relationship.

Verse 2

In the second verse of "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," Taylor Swift sings, "I'm sitting eyes wide open, and I got on thing stuck in my mind / Wondering if I dodged a bullet or just lost the love of my life." Presumably her character broke up with the other character, and she's wondering if it was a mistake or not. Notice that she, like ZAYN's character, is "sitting eyes wide open"--they're both in a state of emotional anxiety, unsure of what has just happened or what will happen next.


In the bridge, ZAYN repeats lyrics from earlier, and Taylor Swift recounts how her character changes her mind. She sings, "I've been looking sad in all the nicest places." Thus, going to places that might usually cheer her up hasn't helped, and she's still brooding over this guy. She sees him "around in all these empty faces"--she can't stop thinking about him. She finishes the stanza by singing, "Now I'm in a cab. I tell 'em where your place is," and, with that, she's heading back to him to try again. The relationship will have a second life.

Deeper Thoughts on "I Don't Wanna Live Forever"

I don't think there's too much deeper about "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," but I do like the music and the style thereof. It's an interesting song about a relationship that gets a second chance because of the woman's response to a difficult situation. There's not much more to it than that, and I wish you happy listening!

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