One Slip

Album: A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (1987)
Charted: 50


  • This song is about falling in love, and how one event can change your whole life. One slip is all it takes.

    It is not ultimately about sex or love, but about unintended consequences. In the song, a man spots a woman across the room. Their eyes meet, and soon they are both giving in to sexual impulses. A pregnancy results, as is subtly implied with the words "soon the seeds were sewn" and "the year grew late," as well as by the sound effects at the beginning of the song which are a metaphor for sperm trying and then contacting the ovum.
  • The album title came from a line in this song:

    One slip, and down the hole we fall
    It seems to take no time at all
    A momentary lapse of reason

    The "momentary lapse of reason" is a reckless sexual indulgence, without protection, which "binds a life to a life" via the unplanned child. We know that "neither one wanted to remain alone" as the pregnancy progressed, which implies that if the pregnancy was unplanned, at least the man involved was ready to take responsibility.
  • Dave Gilmour wrote this song with Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music. Working with different collaborators seemed to bring out different sides of Gilmour's personality, which was reflected in the lyrics.

    On the previous Pink Floyd album, The Final Cut (1983), his bandmate/nemesis Roger Waters wrote all the songs. Those sessions were so divisive, the band called it quits after the album was released. Gilmour regrouped Pink Floyd in 1986 over Waters' objections, starting work on A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. Manzanera was one of the new contributors who helped the group move forward with the album, which proved very successful and helped the band launch their first tour without Waters.
  • In the UK, this was used as the B-side of the "Learning To Fly" single, and later given its own release as an A-side, reaching #50. It was not released as a single in America.
  • This song opens with the sound of the alarm on Dave Gimour's houseboat studio, where it was recorded in his floating studio. Appearing on the Floydian Slip TV show, sound engineer Andy Jackson explained that the alarms were triggered when he entered an incorrect code into the security system. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ryan - Largo, FL
  • Rejected titles for the album include Delusions Of Maturity, Signs Of Life, and Of Promises Broken.

Comments: 16

  • Rose Doran from PaA dieing person's last wish.
  • Daniel J from ConnecticutIn my mind I always pictured the parallel between a sexual encounter resulting in pregnancy to a stalker committing a murder in the heat of the moment. Because if you listen to the song with one or the other in mind, the lyrics could fit either scenario.
  • Allen from New JerseyI love this song. To me the song is about love, falling in love and a lifelong connection between parents, partners or spouses.
    "I will" is the woman's answer to the man's proposal. The "funeral pyre" is reference to the wedding ceremony; the death of independent life and the creation of a life together.
    "The moments slipped by" references everyday unappreciated and trying times raising a family. Perhaps they are together but have emotionally and spiritually grown apart due to the distractions of adult life.
    "The year grew late" references the empty nest and aging. The year a metaphor for a lifetime. Now in the autumn of life both people rediscover the love, desire, and value they saw in one another when they were young and first met and fell in love.
    The final "There'll be no sleep in here tonight" references a return to desire and passion late in life.

    Every time I hear this song I think of my wife and children. The kids are threads linking me to her and us to the future.
  • Troy Baccus from BozemanI think this song is a message from David Gilmore to Roger Waters saying that Waters is having a "momentary lapse of reason." That phrase is the hook to the song and the title of the album. This is the first album after Waters separated from the band. The song's lyrics have no meaning aside from their contrived s--ttyness which was to get Waters attention. Also included in the song is a weak and un-Pink bass solo. Waters played bass. Just my observation, I could be wrong. I don't personally care for the song but I find the circumstances kinda redeeming.
  • Josh from KansasAre the some of the initial sound effects in "One Slip" from the old Mattel Toy Co. Baseball game?

    I had the game as a kid in the 70s-80s and the beeps in the "One Slip" intro sound uncannily like the "pitch"; "strike"; and "you're out" sounds from the game. You can see the game I am talking about on Ebay: Mattel Classic Baseball.
  • Colton from Concord, CaI definitely believe the already established facts about this song's meaning. I used to think it was more about drugs as well; based on the "a glazed look, and I was on the road to ruin" verse among others, but the unwanted pregnancy idea is the only meaning that I see fit perfectly with every lyric. However there is one verse that seems to have been overlooked: "Drowned in desire our souls were on fire, I led the way to the funeral pyre" This seems to possibly have a double meaning: first as a description of how powerful a truly passionate attraction between lovers can be, most importantly though, I think its explaining how their overpowering desire for one another led to the momentary lapse of all reason that ended in their biggest regret. While getting pregnant was their biggest mistake it was actually another momentary lapse of reason from their overpowering desire that becomes their biggest regret. In my opinion that regret may be their selfish decision to get an abortion rather than take responsibility for their mistake. They were drowned in the desire to not lose the life they had, and as a result, with their souls on fire (to represent how the guilt would forever torment their psyche), he led the way to their child's funeral pyre (implying that he feels he caused the premature death of what was potentially destined to have been his own child). I'm not sure about how it fits in with some of the other verses. I think the most likely explanation is that after everything they did to avoid the consequences of their decadence, for fear of having to abandon their hopes and dreams, without peace of mind they were unsatisfied by their usual lives. After a year, unable to break the bond they decided to be together after all. So ironically, they found that their efforts to avoid the negative consequences of a mistake, they chose to do something they would regret by far more. I think the song "high hopes" may be an example of how it felt when he finally achieved the hopes and dreams he was unwilling to compromise. He finds that his life spent encumbered by desire and ambition has left him all alone at the end of his life from burning any bridges he had to achieve his dreams. He never finds any satisfaction from his achievements and realizes the best time of his life was when he had nothing. The songs show us how much a simple decision can change our lives forever. While we can try to control our lives by making the best choices, we will always make mistakes. We cant change the past, so make the most of today.
  • Tony from Chicago, IlI take from this song that two people who are already in relationships give into temptation. "a restless eye across a weary room, a glazed look and I was on my way to ruin" They know that it's wrong but continue on with it. They then understand the finality of their actions "that binds a life for life". The song really makes me stop and thing about the long and lasting consequences of actions. Some of their music is so deep yet so simple. As far as the sounds at the beginning the best I can guess it's just Pink Floyd- sometimes there really are no reasons!
  • Al from Lahore, PakistanI believe this song is referring to serious drugs and addiction. You are given a chance to live life, "One slip, and down the hole we fall", hole being addiction.
  • Joe from Blooming, IlNo one mentions a very important lyric:
    "Then drowned in desire, our souls on fire
    I led the way to the funeral pyre
    And without a thought of the consequence
    I gave in to my decadence.

    The term funeral pyre is significant and I always assumed that one of them had aids. No one mentions unprotected sex, but it is plain as can be. He leads the way to what will be their deaths.
  • Dj from Minneapolis, MnThis song is definitely about a fatefull encounter with the opposite sex and the resulting pregnancy that "binds a life for life"
    If you have been there, you understand. If you haven't, then you really can't get this song. So just enjoy it. Don't know about the sperm/ovum theory, but I can see where you're coming from : )
  • Daferdaty from Leicester, Englandit's a good song, good meaning and sung well, i think it's the fastest song on the album, such a brilliant album, it's my fav pink floyd studio album, awesome!!!
  • Rick from Boston, MaI agree with Laurie. This song is about some kind of illicit sexual encounter. But like Ash, I don't see any evidence that a pregnancy is involved.

    I've liked this song for a long time, but I did not put together the real meaning until something like this happened to me...I cannot reveal details, but just as the song says, there was that moment that realized I had screwed up big time. I fell down the hole, my world was spinning out of control. I could have gone to jail and my life could have been ruined, family torn apart, career in shambles. By the grace of somebody up there, I got out of it without a scratch and no evidence left behind. It scared the hell out of me.

    Like Lauri said, it stays with you. It never goes away. You carry it that person and the event with you forever. It's a jail sentence but it's not the end of the world.

    People screw up, they're human. But you must go on living, try to learn from mistakes. Listen to the music, and try to cope.
  • Laurie from Smalltown, IlNo, no! NOW I remember-- the song using the alarm effect was "Welcome to the Machine", right?
  • Laurie from Smalltown, IlOkay, well, you've all got it right as far as the physical things that can occur regarding unbridled lust and spur-of-the-moment decisions. But you are missing one other point that i have always heard in these lyrics. I have been on both sides of infidelity myself, and from what I get out of this song, there is also the emotional cost of lust and "momentary lapses of reason". What I discovered from my experiences (thankfully, no pregnancies were involved in any situation!) was that, the person you had your indiscretion with is a part of your life forever, whether or not you want them to be. That act, that person, and those emotions you felt at the time, never ever leave your psyche, never escape the mental scrapbook of your life. They are always there, even if you move on and get married/divorced/reconciled, choose all that apply. That incident, the other person, the tone of the night/day, are all ingrained in your memory. Sure, there's a risk of pregnancy if you aren't thinking with your brain. But the child is born (or aborted, whichever), grows up, has a life. You will ALWAYS have that chapter in your book, and you can't tear it out, no matter how you might try. The emotional cost kids, the emotional cost of the slip.

    As for the musical matter of the digital "alarm" type intro, as Ash mentioned, the same concept was ustilised on WYWH....I think it was on "Have a Cigar"? Well, anyway, yes, on that album.
  • Eric from Detroit, MiI always thought it was a couple that met and got married without really thinking about it ahead of time. The music at the beginning I thought smybolized the fact they were in a place like Vegas where you can get married very easily.
  • Ash from Charleston, Wv"The sound effects are a metaphor for sperm trying and then contacting the ovum." I would very much like to know where this info came from. I have been a fan of this album since the day it was released and I've never heard of this theory before. There is nothing in this song to suggest that a pregnancy occurs. "Soon the seeds were sown" simply means that you-know-what was emitted whilst a man and a woman were engaged in you-know-what-else. It doesn't mean an unwanted pregnancy occurred. The song probably just refers to two people that, like countless millions have, met at a bar, went home together, bumped uglies and then regretted it later. After that, they half-heartedly and reluctanly decide to stay together. On another topic, note the similarities in how this song opens and how the song "Time" from Dark Side of the Moon opens. "Time" starts off with the ticking of several clocks that steadily get louder and louder until suddenly all the alarms ring at once. The alarm then stops and the song begins. "One Slip" has sort of the digital version of this, if you will, at the start of it. Compare and contrast, people. Talk amongst yourselves.
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