Slip Slidin' Away

Album: Greatest Hits, Etc. (1977)
Charted: 36 5
  • "The nearer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away."

    Paul Simon gave us this koan in this story about three different people who retreat from their passions when confronted with the vagaries of life. The song shows how we can all watch our dreams pass us by and end up like the absentee father in the third verse, kissing his son as he sleeps and then heading back home. It can seem like we are fated to do so, as "God makes his plan" and "the information's unavailable to the mortal man."
  • The song is repetitive, with the chorus at the beginning and then showing up again four more times. Speaking with SongTalk, Simon explained that this was a flaw in the song. "The last verse is a powerful one, but the chorus, it keeps coming back to the chorus," he said. "You know what that chorus is going to say. I always felt it should be shorter, but I didn't know which verses to take out. Either the last verse or the father/child verse. But they all seemed like they had to be in there, so I left it. But I always felt that the record and the song stayed on a plateau. It didn't build."
  • This was one of two new songs released on Simon's Greatest Hits, Etc. album. It was released as a single backed with the other new song "Stranded in a Limousine."

    The album was a turning point in Simon's relationship with Columbia Records, which barely promoted it. It peaked at #18 in the US, a surprising flop for Simon. Clive Davis, who championed Simon at the label, had left, and the new regime was more enamored with artists like Billy Joel and Paul McCartney. Simon and the new boss, Walter Yetnikoff, didn't get along, and Simon singed a deal with Warner Brothers.
  • Backup vocals are by the country group The Oak Ridge Boys.

Comments: 42

  • Brian from West VirginiaThe Father/Son verse always makes me cry. It is so powerful, the idea that the Father, who evidently has not been there for his son, gets up the nerve to talk to his son, tell him why he did what he did, why he was not there for him. Once he is there, he realizes that this whole thing is not for his son, its for him and the best thing he can do for his son is not to burden his son with his guilt.
  • Tom from Perth, Western AustraliaHi Dave - England - said "Don't over think it, don't waste time. Forgive and forget, say sorry, live and love to the best of your ability while you still have time. The clock is ticking for all of us."

    True... Have gone through 'the process' myself now...

    Made a promise to them... Then... Broke it...

    Too late now to go a long way just to explain... Anyway, maybe sometimes bearing the burden of regret is better than the neurosis of perpetual self-exhoneration.
  • Dave from EnglandI have missed a few of the annual visits since I posted last, (Dave from Morecambe, had to re-register.), thought I would not have to come here again. 9th aniversary of my mum today, father went nearly 6 ago, saw my dad off exactly this time last week. The man, the woman and the father have now all slip-slided. The nine year journey is over, but lessons have been learned. I may have had a life depicted by a literal experience of the lyrics, possibly unique in that respect. None of us are 'gliding,' we are all 'slip sliidin'. Dont over think it, dont waste time. Forgive and forget, say sorry, live and love to the best of your ability while you still have time. The clock is ticking for all of us.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 8th 1977, the NBC-TV network aired 'The Paul Simon Special'*...
    One day later on October 9th Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away" would entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #81; fifteen weeks later on January 22nd, 1978 it would peak at #5 {for 1 week}...
    {See the 3rd post below}...
    * The 'Special' was produced by 'Saturday Night Live' producer Lorne Michaels; and four years later in 1981 he would also produce the 'Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park' concert.
  • Tom from Perth, AustraliaHi Dave from Morecambe, United Kingdom

    Been a while since I posted here. Glad it worked out on your terms... Known many for whom it doesn't. Cheers.

    5th anniversary, probably my last post on this. They are both dead now, but explained. Hope my own understand.

    - Dave, Morecambe, United Kingdom

    Yes, Tom from Perth, I did. Fathers day, 2010

    - Dave, Morecambe, United Kingdom

    To Dave, Morecambe, UK. Will the son go a long way to hear dad explain?

    - Tom, perth, Australia
  • Dave from Morecambe, United Kingdom5th anniversary, probably my last post on this. They are both dead now, but explained. Hope my own understand.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 22nd 1978, "Slip Slidin' Away" by Paul Simon peaked at #5 (for 1 week) and spent 20 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #2 in Canada and #4 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Was track 1 of side 1 on his 1977 compilation album 'Greatest Hits, Etc.', the album peaked at #18 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    And this week as it peaked at #5 he was also on the Top 100 at position #53 with Art Garfunkel & James Taylor with a covered version of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World"...
    Mr. Simon celebrated his 72nd birthday three months ago on October 13th (2013).
  • Vinnie from Victorville, CaOK..I going to comment here on this and my situation will probably catch a lot of flack...I "share" my some you may not agree, but we are consenting adults...but the guy she meets doesn't know that I know EVERYTHING that is going on. And yesterday he texted her a few lines of this song. She has told him repeatedly that there will never be anything more than just the fun they relationship, no leaving me or her wanting him to leave his wife for her...But he still continues to try and get her to tell him that she loves him also...yes...he has told her he is in love with when he sent that text I googled the meaning of this song and i found this site and these comments. So for me, the reason i think he sent the text with a few of these song lyrics to her was to imply that he is the man in the first verse;
    I know a man, he came from my home town
    He wore his passion for his woman like a thorny crown
    He said "Delores, I live in fear
    My love for you is so overpowering

    And I think he has put it in his head that she could be the woman referred to in the 2nd verse
    The more you're slip slidin' away
    I know a woman, became a wife
    These are the very words she uses to describe her life
    She said "A good day ain't got not rain"

    She said "A bad day's when I lie in bed
    And I think of things that might have been"

    He is much older than her, and he is not happy in his marriage, he's not unhappy, but he doesn't experience anything to the effect of what he does whenever they meet up. So in our opinion, he is a hopeless romantic, who is forlorn and needing something to grasp that makes his life worthwhile. And when she reiterates to him that nothing more will come of what it is, he sees his life as slip sliding away...he wants something that he will never have. And as close as he can get to her he still realizes that it will never be, although he dreams that maybe in her mind she is not happy either and is doing this because she lacks something from me also. We can't tell him the truth because we have been using him, and we are going to bring this to a close, and it's all due to these type of texts becoming more and more frequent. It has come to the point where it's just not healthy for him any longer. This took a very bad wrong turn and was never meant to go this way. So call us bad people, but this post was just meant to add to the meaning/interpretation of these lyrics.

  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxAfter this song came out, the morning host of a local radio station would play it every morning there was ice on the roads. He started to get annoyed phone calls tellng him to cut it out, but he never did.
  • George from Glen Burnie, MdThis song tells me that one can reach for the stars.....
  • Dave from Morecambe, United KingdomAnnual visit to what has now become a ritual. This years update is that the man who I travelled a long way to hear his explaination; is now slip-slidin himself. If he dosn't see the day out, I will freak out and believe in all kinds of s--t that shouldnt happen. Yeh. s--t happens, but not like this! At least I met them both...
  • Jake from New York, NyCould the meaning be that we have our dreams and plans, but the more we pursue our own, the more we miss God's true meaning for our lives? Once we get what WE want, the emptier we are. Only in doing what God wants for us are we happy.
  • Magic Kenny from Irvine, CaIt's about how we reflect on life passing us by - and the regrets we have in that life for the choices we've made. First verse: a man's overpowering love for the (wrong?) woman causes him to "lose" his identity. Second verse: a woman who "became a wife," whose "good days" aren't so good, and who's "bad days" are spent wondering how much life has to offer - and how she made the wrong choice in a husband. Third verse: a father who abandoned his son and traveled far to tell him why, to explain - only to leave, knowing he couldn't ever make his son understand why his dad left him. Last verse: we think we've got it all figured out, but ONLY in the moment. When we look back, we'll wonder why we didn't do things differently.
  • Rick from Palm Springs, CaMarc from Perth hit it right on the head. I have known Ph.D candidates who can’t finish their thesis; Ph.Ds who are useless after they get their degrees because they didn’t want to DO anything, just be a Dr. Guys who work their butts off to get a law degree then become teachers or forest rangers. Guys who chase beautiful women and then treat them shabby after they get them or they “almost do this or almost do that.” Right on Marc.
  • Charlene from Coquitlam, BcRediscovered this beautiful song on my daily commute (in the rain ironically). Moved me enough to search around to see what others had to say. This lead me to Songfacts ... glad I discovered this place. Look forward to joining the community!
    - Charlene, Coquitlam, BC
  • Gracie from Toronto, OnI think the song is about mortality "slip slidin away"; your destination is death "the nearer your destination the more you're slip slidin away".

    Then the song goes on to illustrate some of the ways that one might waste their opportunities in life:

    The "man who wore his passion for his woman like a thorny crown" says to me that he was being crucified by her and that he was losing himself by loving her "my love for you is so overpowering i'm afraid i might disappear".

    I think you get the picture. The song ends by stating "we think we're travelling down the highway, but in fact we're slip slidin away". This statement illustrates our denial of death and our feelings of immortality.
  • Dave from Morecambe, United KingdomYes, Tom from Perth, I did. Fathers day, 2010
  • Tom from Perth, AustraliaTo Dave, Morecambe, UK. Will the son go a long way to hear dad explain?
  • Angela from Knoxville, TnTo me this song is about illusion. It is about the way we chose to perceive life. Just when we think we have figured life out, we realized that it is an illusion of perception.
  • Dave from Morecambe, United KingdomDont know how old this thread is, as I have only looked at this site for the first time today, for reasons that will become apparant. Lance, Calvin and Marc have all raised good points, yet there is also a more literal poignancy to me. I put this song on my mothers 'hospital' ipod in 2008. Having been a chid of the 60's, and brought up on S&G, Dylan, Floyd etc, I thought nothing of it. Unfortunatly she died a while later, listening to her music through a difficult time. After that, from death-bed conversations, I decoded a number on a scrap of paper, hidden for years. The phone number I rang, halfway round the world, was answered by my genetic father, who I had no knowledge of for 40 odd years. I will only find out later this year if 'he came a long way'. She died one year and two hours ago (09/02/09). I am still unaware as to whether she was a mate of Paul Simon,(she wasn't called Delores!) but I feel I have the ultimate definitive 'meaning' of the song covered in all aspects. Maybe the 'dad' that brought me up was verse one? I certainly thought 'I was glidin' down the highway'. Anyway read them again, after reading this, and should it realy be about mud-wrestlers, DONT TELL ME!

  • Lance from Denver, CoJust my thoughts, but could the "destination" he is referring to be death? The nearer we get to our own deaths, the more we realize all the things we never did, or the things we wish we could take back. The last verse is what gets me thinking this. He says we believe we are just gliding down the highway and that everything is good, when in fact we are slip sliding away and wasting our time...

    I also like like the thoughts that Marc in Australia shared as well. Nicely put!
  • Al from City Lights, VaI'm so glad I stopped in here. The thoughtful well written remarks are a ray of sunshine in comparison to YouTube. It is only those thoughtful well written remarks that inspired the passion to sign up and leave this comment.
    Very nice.
  • Wes from Pietermaritzburg, South AfricaPete, you insightful Auzzie, you. Sorry everyone else, but detailed and comprehensive surveys, the validity of which can't be doubted, seem to point to the song in fact being about 2 mud wrestlers. I think in my heart I knew it all along.
  • Trina from Oklahoma City, Okmarc from perth, australia: please get out of my head. i could not have, in a million years, articulated my thoughts more precisely than your comment. it's good to know someone else feels exactly the same as i. thanks...
  • Calvin from Austin, TxSorry, Sircha, but I think the wisdom of the song is that "a good day ain't got no rain." The woman's life can be summed up with something that sounds like a epitaph: she became a wife. That's obviously a melancholy way to describe her ambitions and dreams and adventures. But, at the same time, a day without rain is a good day. And, when she is sad, it's usually about all the missed opportunities and what might have been. I'm not trying to argue for one, fixed interpretation, but where is the poignancy if we try to "one up" that condition or "grow out of" seeing sunny days as good days? And, avoiding pain would make for a valueless life.
  • Jude from Ashland, of Paul Simon's best.
  • Sircha from Perth, AustraliaAnd when I was young, unbelievably young,
    I prayed for good days without rain.
    And now that I'm older and wise (or insane)
    I pray for good days without pain.
  • Farrah from Elon, NcI love this song. It's very poignant.
  • Joyce from Acworth (orig. Cincinnati, Oh), GaI've been listening to and liking this song since the year it came out. Back then the lyrics weren't tinged with sadness the way they are now. To me, this song is about getting to a certain point in your life without even realizing how, knowing it's not what you thought it was going to be, knowing you've made wrong choices but feeling powerless to change them, so you just make the best of it the only way you know how. I can see myself in the wife. This song yanks at my heart every time I hear it, and depending on my mood, brings tears to my eyes. It's beautiful and sad.
  • Marc from Perth, AustraliaI've always thought this song was an existential statement about the ironic disparity of value between desire and attainment. That is, when you have attained the goal you find your desire for it is "slip slidin' away" towards another as yet unattained goal. The verse about the father I find deeply affecting. I imagine an absentee dad rehearsing for years the reasons he abandoned his son. But after he "came a long way just to explain" he recognizes his son's pure innocence and realizes that his imagined grand speech is a litany of self-indulgence and his desire to justify himself evaporates so he "kissed his boy as he lays sleeping then he turned around and headed home again"
  • Nora from N/a, FlTo me, if i may put in 2 cents--- This song is about life passing you by matter how you live , no matter what you try to improve passes you by anyway...."God only knows
    God makes his plan
    The information's unavailable
    To the mortal man
    We work our jobs
    Collect our pay
    Believe we're gliding down the highway
    When in fact we're slip slidin' away..."
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThanks Nick for the best explanation so far.
  • John from Guildford, EnglandIt's probably way off target, but Franz Kafka's novel 'The Castle' is about someone desperately trying to get access to the castle (in this case, representing Kafka's father), but the nearer he seems to get to it the further away it actually is.
    Oh, and something which is definitely true - Paul came up with this song after playing around with the rock and roll song Slippin' And Slidin'.
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaBrian !!!! glad you worked it out..don't tell anyone
  • Jim from Toledo, OhThanks Nick, from deerfield beach, for using only the biggest words and most complicated syntax to interpret a straightforward song. my many thanks and gratitude go out to you and your family. glad to see that college education of yours paying some well-earned dividends
  • Nick from Deerfield Beach, FlIn geometric spacial proximity, the closer on object comes to the other we see that the margin for error decreases. The nearer you get to something the greater the probabliity of deviation from that goal prevents us form actually getting where we want to get. In other words the nearer your destination the more your slip sliding away. At least that is how I see it.
  • Brian from La Mesa, CaI really had the impression that Pete from Nowra was joking, you guys.
  • Corey from Indianapolis, Indefinitely not about mud wrestling. always one of my favorites, about the futility of certain things of life- just don't try 'em.
  • Jay from New York, NyHow in the world could a song with lyrics like "He wore his passion for his woman like a thorny crown", "My love for you's so overpowering I'm afraid that I will disappear", and "God only knows, God makes his plan, the information's unavaiable to the mortal man" be about mud wrestling? While lyrics can certainly be interpreted in many ways, there is no way anyone who has heard these lyrics can think they are about mud wrestling. There is nothing in these lyrics to support that interpretation.
  • Sarah from Pensacola, FlTo me this song has always symbolized the feelings of "chasing a dream." It's like you can't get close enough--as soon as you have something you thought you wanted, you want something else.
  • Oc from Westchester, NyI don't think this song is about mud wrestlers. It is a depresing song about death, "Slip Slidin' Away." Simon's final verse discusses how g-d's plan is unknown to man, but no matter what everyone dies.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiaheard it was a song about 2 mud wrestlers gettin' it on...... but i could be wrong

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