The Lovers (Live At Rehearsals)
In an episode of the Song Exploder podcast, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross explained that the song is about an alternate reality that explores what might have happened if Reznor had never left his old home of New Orleans and had never gotten clean and sober. It began as a sort of poem he had written in order to explore what he calls the "seduction of addiction" and stated that "it was me allowing myself permission to examine a period of my life that I had consciously chose not to think about very much, then immerse myself in it in a kinda 'What if the path I'm currently on wasn't really the right one, and I just went hard-left the other way?"
- Add Violence
This is the original version. The song features an instrument called the Luminist Garden, which was also used on the Gone Girl Soundtrack. In the aforementioned podcast, it's explained that the instrument was partially meant to evoke the sound of tapping fingers on a tabletop, as a reflection of the nervousness and anxiety inherent in addiction.
The Lovers (Live At Rehearsals)
This version of the song was filmed and recorded during the July 2017 rehearsals for the I Can't Seem To Wake Up 2017 tour. The spoken word portions of the song are far clearer here than on the original.
"The Lovers" made its live debut at the first show of the I Can't Seem To Wake Up 2017 tour. It appeared at most shows on that tour, and every one throughout Europe + Asia 2018, before continuing to appear frequently on the Cold And Black And Infinite Tour.
[Part one] (I can hear you breathing) I’ve slipped out of time again Leaving all of you behind And I’m free To return to the place where I already am And have always been If I just really looked and allowed myself To see The confusion is seducing me warm, flowing Wide his eyes Summer Hypnotize they see inside of me Hot swollen skin want me take me perfect embrace Black and bloody Rotten and perfect The center has moved on and all that’s left is free Finally Finally Everyone seems to be asleep but me Take me Into the arms of the lovers Free Take me into the arms of the lovers [Part two] Oh I see you floating there How could I ever hope to forget Always rearranging These words are a lie a mirror reflecting in a mirror of a lie A light shines still always Shadows in every word Beneath black eaves Please don’t leave me here I could stop it Maybe I could stop it (if I wanted to) But I’m not the one driving anymore I know who I am But I know who I am Right? (Please don't leave me here with you) Take me Into the arms of the lovers Free into the arms of the lovers Into the arms of the lovers Please Into the arms of the lovers I am free Into the arms of the lovers
Further lyrics are printed on the physical component. The word "godlike" seems to reference "The Life You Didn't Lead":
The Lovers arrive [Beginning of First Chorus] The Lovers return [Beginning of Second Chorus] I am godlike I am I am singularity
There are also additional, unprinted lyrics which seem to reference "Everything":
Coliseum calling with its night that could last forever Breathing moments Perfect Take me Take all that's left I am free Finally Combined and perfect Finally