What does One Thing mean?

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Finger Eleven: One Thing Meaning

Song Released: 2003


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One Thing Lyrics

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Restless tonight
Cause I wasted the light
Between both these times
I drew a really thin line
It’s nothing I planned
And not that I can
But you should be mine
Across that line

[Chorus:]
If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Aug 26th, 2008 8:57pm report


    Restless tonight ( - when dreams and desires fill your head)
    Cause I wasted the light (he didn't use his days to do anything about them)
    Between both these times
    I drew a really thin line (the line between thinking about something and doing it. It's thin because he's really close to trying it.)
    It’s nothing I planned
    And not that I can
    But you should be mine
    Across that line (he is dying to be with a woman that he can't have.)

    If I traded it all
    If I gave it all away for one thing
    Just for one thing (he is already committed, maybe has a wife and kids. It would cost him everything to be with her, his family, his friends, his honor.)
    If I sorted it out
    If I knew all about this one thing
    Wouldn’t that be something ( - to have the courage to sacrifice everything just to try it. It would change his whole life forever.)

    I promise I might
    Not walk on by
    Maybe next time
    But not this time (in spite of what it will cost him, he is really close to doing it.)

    Even though I know
    I don’t want to know
    Yeah I guess I know
    I just hate how it sounds (he knows he has to betray someone who loves him. He knows what it will do to her. It is tormenting him.)



  2. 2TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Jan 24th, 2010 1:42am report


    Ok, I'm weighing in on this.

    I think that this song IS about something desired and longed for, something he knows he shouldn't have. Something he knows he should turn away from, but everything tells him that he can't just walk away. It stays on his mind, his heart. I believe it's attributed to a forbidden love. If you pay attention to the lyrics AND the song at the same time, I think the music sounds as if it builds up, in intensity. It's almost sad, mourningful... yet full of suspense and urgency.


    Restless tonight (I can't sleep)
    Cause I wasted the light (I thought about her all day)
    Between both these times (and in my thinking)
    I drew a really thin line (I made flimsy boundaries)
    It's nothing I planned (Didn't plan on that or the love)
    And not that I can (Wouldn't have been appropriate)
    But you should be mine (I want her despite the obstacles)
    Across that line (Can't I just forget boundaries?)

    [Chorus:]
    If I traded it all (My whole life would change)
    If I gave it all away for one thing (Could I live with it)
    Just for one thing (Losing everything for ONE gain)
    If I sorted it out (If I figured out a way)
    If I knew all about this one thing (If I could ONLY have her)
    Wouldn't that be something (How wonderful it would be)

    I promise I might (Most times I can hold my feelings in)
    Not walk on by (And these feelings scare me)
    Maybe next time (Maybe I could be strong later)
    But not this time (But for now, I can't fight it anymore)

    Even though I know (I know full well what's at risk)
    I don't want to know (I want to forget and ignore that)
    Yeah I guess I know (I know I must give it all away)
    I just hate how it sounds (Please don't hold it against me)


    This is what I see, what I picture. I can literally make my own video showing this personal conflict within himself. At first, thinking about how much this has affected his thoughts all day, and now he can't sleep because of it. The boundaries made, but they could be so easily dismissed. And how amazing it would be... Sure, I'd have to lose everything else, but it very well could be worth it. And if it WERE worth it, it would be the most amazing thing ever. Then, after thinking about it and weighing the situation, he can't fight it anymore. He knows what he has to do, he knows it looks so bad on him, looks so dishonorable... but he can't help it anymore. The music changes support this, in my opinion. Starting out soft and slow, as he's at his wits end, not knowing what to do. Frustration building up at the first chorus... Thinking (BUT... what IFFFF!) then slowing again, (I've been fighting so hard, but I can't anymore). Becoming slightly more intense at the second chorus, repeating the words, as if running through his thoughts that way. Slow again, with the sad thought of what must be done. Slower still for second repeat (I have to do this, and it will hurt someone else, I'm sorry but...) Way more intense at the third chorus.... He's given in, he's going for it despite the losses, there will be SUCH a gain, and he can't give that up. (YES! I MUST realize this dream!!)

    Okay, so I know this song is NOT new, and even the post isn't, but the most recent post was only a few months ago and this song drives me crazy lol. I am experiencing this right now. This song pulls at my heart, and I know I am feeling just what I have explained, this song speaks to me as if it understands. I haven't given in, but I can imagine how it would be if I did, and it seems so wonderful. So amazing. So, when you listen to this song, think of it with my explanation. FEEL it, don't just listen, and I think you'll agree. Thanks, and sorry for the long explanation, but I'm good at OVER-analyzing things. Haha



  3. 3TOP RATED

    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 15th, 2006 4:19am report


    The beauty of this song is that even though it is sung by a young man in the 2000s, it is truly genderless and timeless. The simple lyrics are a sounding board for people's deepest thoughts and convictions.

    In my mind's eye I see a man fed up with the trappings of aimless materialism and cheap, meaningless relationships.

    He meets an enigmatic stranger who has cultivated Christ-consciousness and invites the man to follow. The man is wondering to himself whether to give up his numbing yet painful way of life for a new life that's in no way safe, yet nourishing to his body, mind and soul.

    He's weighing his options--what if he traded it all for one thing? He has found a pearl of great price--why not give up a life that leaves him feeling empty so he can possess something that will open his heart to the beauty that surrounds him?

    I don't know if I "cracked" the song, but in my experience this is how the lyrics speak to me.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 17th, 2:22pm report


    What I thought I read when the song came out what his introduction to Higher Being that wants him to give up his old life and be a part of a Bigger Plan.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 21st, 2017 3:38pm report


    For me this song is about the tangled struggle with addiction.



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 31st, 2014 10:34pm report


    Okay, I had this song playing on my phone when I overheard my (now passed on) teacher (let's call him Mr. Anon) tell another teacher that "I have cancer... How do I tell the students? I want to keep teaching" My heart literally dropped to my feet. I HATED anon but I just felt so bad. His youngest is in my grade. I thought about him just giving up EVERYTHING to have treatments and still teach (from the hospital on Skype.) He later died in a car accident on the way home from a chemo treatment



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 22nd, 2014 9:09am report


    The beauty of this song is that the lyrics are so vague that it opens itself up this song to all sorts of interpretation. While I appreciate all of the heteronormative interpretations here, the song could also be about the writer questioning his own sexuality, especially the "I just hate how it sounds" lyric. Honestly, it's a generic song about an internal struggle of crossing a line--and we, as listeners, can interpret for ourselves what that line represents. To my mind, that's what makes this song so appealing to so many people.



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 7th, 2014 7:07pm report


    One thing = unconditional love



  9.  

    victoria2010
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    Jul 9th, 2013 7:12pm report


    well wow....in being in a long secret relationship i had to cut it off.....so i did and his last tx was to me..."when you get a chance hear this song "one thing", he said this is how i feel about you. so I did and im like okkkkkk so of course i googled it.and omg totally makes sense ugh so depressing.

    so the situation we were in was that YES he was married with kids.But he couldnt let go because first of all his kids were at ages of 2,9,and,12 his kids are his life yes he wanted me but yet couldnt make a decision but this song really sums it up and definetly can relate with. like alot of the bloggers said "sucks to be that girl"!!!!



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 30th, 2012 8:01am report


    I always thought his song was about maybe a girlfriend cheating on him where he knows it's true and wants to ask but he already knows he answer, and when he says how it would be something to trade it all for one thing, to me it sounds like he's mocking the idea of trading everything for a one night stand. But at the same time he still loves her and just wants her to be his, I'm not really all too sure but that's always been my interpretation of it.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  11.  

    gypsi.rayne.9
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    Aug 2nd, 2012 8:29am report


    I have 2 versions.
    #1- having to sacrifice an unhealthy relationship for your sanity
    #2- realizing theres something life has dealt u that ud rather not have to deal with but do (in my case, alcoholism) - hence, '' Even though I know I don’t wanna know Yeah I guess I know I just hate how it sounds ”



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 8th, 2011 4:32pm report


    Heroin / Opiate Addiction. If you have been through, it is obvious.



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 29th, 2011 1:29pm report


    The simplicity of this song and its two chord arrangement are somewhat symbolic of its meaning. It is not in and of itself a love song--although it could be without a doubt. Ultimately, "One Thing" is the one thing we all have: Life. Life is filled with daily decisions...most of which will bring us differently levels of regret. Most lives--even the lives of the most successful men and women of the world--are marked by failures. These regrets and failures can cause us to question ourselves and others--they can fracture our faith and our trust in humanity--whether it be our several acquaintenances or the love of our life. The line between letting our failures and regrets keep us down or deciding to make them springboards to future success or just better decisions is often vague and thin. Coming to terms with this revelation that it is the many choices we have made that has brought us to our current state is sometimes emotionally charged and the feeling brought about by this new knowledge is a difficult thing to articulate. Regardless, we must realize that the theme of the song is marked by the reiteration of the word "if." We can't change the choices we made, but instead see each step as a learning process:
    I promise I might
    Not walk on by
    Maybe next time
    But not this time.



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 21st, 2010 6:41am report


    Basically this is what I got.
    1) A girl and him are dating and its pretty serious.
    2) She wants to get married.
    3) Marriage is a big commitment so he cant sleep.
    4) He never planned that he would fall in love.
    5) When you get married you can't really sleep around.
    6) He would have to trades his rock star life to be a husband.
    7) If he knew he would love her forever it would be great.
    8) He knows what he wants, not to get married.
    9) He knows that the relationship will fail because he doesn't want to commit but he doesn't want to think about it because it must suck because obviously he likes the girl but he dosnt know what the future holds.

    Basically he dosnt want to trade his future for a girl



  15.  

    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 3rd, 2010 4:02am report


    Restless tonight
    Cause I wasted the light
    Between both these times
    I drew a really thin line

    He's in bed "restless," having "wasted the light." This is about regret and guilt. "Both these times" refers to the daylight vs the night. The one he wants to approach but is afraid to approach. The really thin line is the line between his fantasy life in bed and the real life during the day. The thin line is the painful boundary when fantasy becomes so intense it compels itself into reality, but fear of rejection or consequence blocks imminent action. There's something melancholic like Hamlet here.

    It’s nothing I planned
    And not that I can
    But you should be mine
    Across that line

    "Nothing I planned and not that I can" draws this into the Romantic realm, of the precognitive, the urge beyond reason, or even evokes a sense of destiny like the "other half" in Plato's Symposium. There's even a possible connection to the stilnovisti poets. "But you should be mine across that line." "The line," as previously noted, is between the day and the night--reality and fantasy: his passing by during the day with fear to speak up vs both being in bed at night.

    If I traded it all
    If I gave it all away for one thing
    Just for one thing
    If I sorted it out
    If I knew all about this one thing
    Wouldn’t that be something

    I believe that the "one thing" is how the desired feels--the hidden "other." The idea of giving everying away for the beloved to just be reaffirmed of the return of affection--the aggrandized emotion--again evokes the stilnovisti and courtly love poems. It also makes sense because the center of the anxiety is about the boundary between wanting to connect and the fear of actually engaging. Nothing would relieve that anxiety more than knowing the "one thing"--the foreknowledge of the other so that you know you won't be rejected.

    I promise I might
    Not walk on by
    Maybe next time
    But not this time

    "promise" just reaffirms the "thin line." He's talking to his fantasy love in bed alone as though the relationship is already real. "might not walk on by"--meaning he probably will walk on by and knows he will, but will still try to delude himself anyway. "maybe next time, but not this time" This is one of the most critical lines. It means repeated contact. This is someone he is around all the time and expects to have contact with again. Repeated unrequited contact explains the obsession. We have motive.

    Even though I know
    I don’t wanna know
    Yeah I guess I know
    I just hate how it sounds

    Here we get the feeble attempts to guess at the "one thing"--how the other feels. Each line is a gradual surrender to self-deprecation. The reason why he "doesn't wanna know" is because he expects rejection. He assures himself it will happen, which is why he "hates how it sounds."

    This last passage explains the psychological mechanism that keeps him in this place. The dark side of fantasy is evolution into a waking nightmare. Each time he fails to speak up every day, he just reaffirms the inadequacy he feels when he's alone, "restless tonight."



  16.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 11th, 2009 11:47pm report


    i think it's about how he thinks he's been wasting his life because he hasn't found the one thing worth trading everything for. The one thing being someone he loves?
    :D

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  17.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 19th, 2009 9:38pm report


    I work on rotation: 3 weeks in, 3 weeks out. I don't see my family for 21 days on end. To me, the song's about that last night before leaving. I wish I could make the decision to stay, I wish I could figure out another way to make a living and stay at home with those I care most about. The last night before every flight out, I wish I could not walk on by. And maybe the next time will be the last. But not this time.
    I wish I could make that decision for my family, I wish I could give up everything I work for, travel for and sacrifice for just for that one thing: staying home.
    I wish I didn't know I have to go, but every morning the day of my flight, I can't ignore it.
    I know that leaving hurts my family. But I can only hope that a man is not judged solely on the worst thing he's ever done.
    Wouldn't that be something.



  18.  

    fwack
    click a star to vote
    Apr 7th, 2009 4:07pm report


    I heard it's about him walking in on his girlfriend/wife (wateva) ummm.. doing something (with her mouth) to another person.

    even though I know
    I don't wanna know
    yeah I guess I know
    I just hate the way it sounds

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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