The Desperate Kingdom of Love


"The Desperate Kingdom of Love" is a song by PJ Harvey, originally released on the album, Uh Huh Her on May 31, 2004. It was covered by Dave Gahan and Soulsavers and is the tenth track on Imposter.


(from original recording)

Oh love, you were a sickly child
And how the wind knocked you down
Put on your spurs, swagger around
In the desperate kingdom of love
Holy water cannot help you now
Your mysterious eyes will not help you
Selling your reason will not bring you through
The desperate kingdom of love
There's another who looks from behind your eyes
I learn from you how to hide
From the desperate kingdom of love
At the end of this burning world
You'll stand proud, face upheld
And I'll follow you, into Heaven or Hell
And I'll become, as a girl
In the desperate kingdom of love

Dave's Take

"This is like an old Johnny Cash song. I tend to believe everything PJ Harvey says — she sings with such honesty. I'm drawn to her music, even when it's pretty hard to listen to. You can hear the damage in her voice, which is probably what makes her so special, right?"1

My Take

This is a very naked song in so many ways...musically, it's about as bare as you can get with just an acoustic guitar strumming the same tones, more or less, and PJ Harvey sings it with an extremely soft and quiet voice, like she's trying not to wake a sleeping child up or something. With such a stripped-down sonic approach, it is really the lyrics that shine. The very poetic description of a "sickly child" urged not only to live but to thrive in this "desperate kingdom of love" has a sense of agony and daring hope. What is this desperate kingdom of love that she speaks of? And does this "kingdom" perhaps share any similarities to the one that Dave sang about in his Hourglass hit, for example?

Speaking of, Dave has been a longtime admirer of PJ's works and he has wanted to collaborate with her as long ago as when he had recorded Paper Monsters.2 Too bad such a collaboration never happened, as I think their voices would mesh really well together. There is still time, though, of course! Anyway, I have a feeling that Dave and Soulsavers are going to turn this naked-sounding song into a big production as they are wont to do. And that's okay; I think they will give new meaning to the desperation that this "kingdom" is described to have. My one question is, though, how will Dave approach the "as a girl" lyric in the second-to-last line? Will he simply change it up?

Be sure to check back here for my review on Dave's version!

Music Video

There has not been a music video announced for this song.


  1. "Apocalypse Jukebox", Q (June 2005)
  2. "GAHAN FOR IT!", NME (July 27, 2001)