"One Step Up" as written by and Bruce Springsteen....
Woke up this morning my house was cold
Checked out the furnace she wasn't burnin'
Went out and hoped in my old Ford
Hit the engine but she ain't turnin'
We've given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain't learnin'
We're the same sad story that's a fact
One step up and two steps back

Bird on a wire outside my motel room
But he ain't singin'
Girl in white outside a church in June
But the church bells they ain't ringing
I'm sittin' here in this bar tonight
But all I'm thinkin' is
I'm the same old story same old act
One step up and two steps back

It's the same thing night on night
Who's wrong baby who's right
Another fight and I slam the door on
Another battle in our dirty little war
When I look at myself I don't see
The man I wanted to be
Somewhere along the line I slipped off track
I'm caught movin' one step up and two steps back

There's a girl across the bar
I get the message she's sendin'
Mmm she ain't lookin' to married
And me well honey I'm pretending
Last night I dreamed I held you in my arms
The music was never-ending
We danced as the evening sky faded to black
One step up and two steps back


Lyrics submitted by oofus

"One Step Up" as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Downtown Music Publishing

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One Step Up song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentWhen I first heard this song it was January of 2005, in the hot tub of the Hotel Beau Rivage in Biloxi Mississippi. It was my first vacation in over 5 years and that first full day I got there I spent 8 hours in that hot tub. It was 60 there and it was 8 in Chicago. I was a senior in High school and the prime of my life.

    I can relate to every part of this song from beginning to end. I met a girlfriend who would change my life forever and I lost her. We were so deeply in love and her mom just didn't like me. Why, I still don't know. She loved me and I loved her. Prom came along and she was not allowed to go with me. It killed me to go with someone else. We eventually started fighting with arguments and it got to the point;

    "It's the same thing night on night
    Who's wrong baby who's right
    Another fight and I slam the door on
    Another battle in our dirty little war
    When I look at myself I don't see
    The man I wanted to be
    Somewhere along the line I slipped off track
    I'm caught movin' one step up and two steps back"

    I also dreamed about the two of us at Prom and just holding each other tight the way we wanted it to be. And her just being drop dead gorgeous and whispering "One Step Up" in my ear as the music continued to play and eventually the people around us all faded to black. All it was in my dream was her and I dancing on the hard wood dance floor with a spot light on us as we slowly danced the night away.

    She eventually dumped me for some guy in New York. Back in June Where I am in my life now, I think I finally understand it: the anguish of loving someone completely and it still falling apart. It's a reality song – strong and brutally honest. To me, it's about being man enough to own that happily ever after isn't a given. Perfect can come apart no matter what you do… and all you can do is feel the pain and regret." We laughed together; we cried together we loved each other together. I still have feelings for her and I doubt she will ever be forgotten. This song has been a companion to me my whole senior year, lost love, lost time, friends who go off to war. If I try hard enough I can still “be back in that hot tub.”
    fordtrucker1986on January 29, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General CommentWhat you want to be vs. what you have become..

    Brilliant...
    duds11on January 16, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentOne of the subtly saddest songs ever written. I think every guy out there can relate to these feelings of failure, regret and dissapointment.

    When I look at myself I don't see
    The man I wanted to be
    Somewhere along the line I slipped off track

    Those lines cut right through me...

    But, then the last verse, he picks up a stranger in a bar, AND while sleeping in bed next to her dreams of his wife and what they could, or should, have had.....WOW.

    Bruce is simply a master. BTW, fordtrucker, your entry here is amazingly touching.

    dedazon January 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a really great song. It's about a man who's life hasn't turned out that great. It rings of regret, longing for times past and mourning for the way things are.
    lily(myoneandonly)on May 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is one of my favs by him. I'm definitely getting a huge vibe of regret...There's the person he wants to be...and then the person he is and the distinction that really exists between the two is making him feel so full of pain.
    thecoldparton February 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis great song and this album remind me of Dylans blood on the tracks. Like Dylan, Bruce here isn't writing about other characters, he's speaking about himself.
    It seems at that time after marrying a glamorous model and living in Hollywood that he lost his roots, his way, becoming someone he really wasn't. Who hasn't been down that path. Of course in One step up he expresses what he's sadly come to realize, that his glamorous relationship aint working out. Like brilliant disguise,
    probably not much depth or real love in their marriage. One of his best albums about his love life back then. On equal par with Dylans classic Blood on the tracks,
    michaelbaxon July 07, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think it's about a man and his struggle to be the person he wants to be, to the woman he loves. Everytime he's ''almost'' there, he just takes one step back again, and he's disapointing himself and her, once more.
    my favourite lines are

    There's a girl across the bar
    I get the message she's sendin'
    Mmm she ain't lookin' to married
    And me well honey I'm pretending

    you can just picture bruice sat in some little american bar, looking at a woman and knowing nobody will be able to love him, the way that his woman did.

    The dream at the end is also beautiful, when i first heard this song it made me cry.
    that_sullen_girlon July 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this is about compulsive behavior. I know I can relate. We try, but we just don't know how to do the right thing -- somewhere along the way we "slipped off track." I, too, find this a chillingly good song, and while I feel for what fordtrucker has been through, I don't think it's about a guy "being man enough" to get over it. Rather, it's about a guy who cheats and lies for some temporary lovin', and regrets it again and again.
    mark36on April 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about a dude and his girlfriend fight. He blames her for all his problems. But he still loves her. In the end he sees another girl at a bar and cheats on his wife with her. Pretty self explanatory.
    Shannehon May 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song came out shortly after Bruce's brief and rocky marriage to Julianne Phillips. He was touring with Patti Scialfa and obviously developing a relationship with her -- they married not long after his divorce became final.

    Anyway, it seems pretty clear to me that Bruce was feeling guilty about having made the wrong decision and marrying the wrong person and then behaving the wrong way afterwards. He funneled all this guilt into this song.
    PencilNeckedGeekon May 28, 2007   Link

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