"Once Was One" as written by and John Baldwin Gourley....
Of all us he had to know he'd never grow
He'd never climb, he'd never love like the love I know
When I was two and he was ten they carried me
Through holograms they twisted into cosmic seas

Once was born of light like you
Once was one but now I'm two
When I was born of love like you
When you were ten and I was two

There were two monkeys talking sounding like little dogs
They were barking and bitching about what was wrong
In the world we were just spacemen taking a ride
The gorilla's in his human suit reciting his lines, singing
We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off

If gathering is all we need to change the wind
For anything to die it needs first to begin

Once was born of light like you
Once was one but now I'm two
When I was born of love like you
When you were ten and I was two

There were two monkeys talking sounding like little dogs
They were barking and bitching about what was wrong
In the world we were just spacemen taking a ride
The gorilla's in his human suit reciting his lines, singing
We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off

In time, saw your future is not burning so bright
But if we live too long you'll live less like mine
We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off

There were two monkeys talking sounding like little dogs
They were barking and bitching about what was wrong
In the world we were just spacemen taking a ride
The gorilla's in his human suit reciting his lines, singing
We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off

In time, if humans breed hate, love and lies would be traits of mine
But I was of the future, past and present time

Once was born of light like you
Once was one but now I'm two
When I was born of love like you
When you were ten and I was two


Lyrics submitted by Polaroidskies, edited by Lifeofgold

"Once Was One" as written by John Baldwin Gourley

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Once Was One song meanings
Add your thoughts

9 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    My InterpretationAt first, it sounds like it's about an older brother/relative/friend(?) that died young. The line "We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off" seems to be about the idea that everyone dies eventually, which Gourley also discusses in other songs and on other albums. Can't say anything about the gorillas or spacemen.

    But then, the part "Of all us he had to know he'd never grow / He'd never climb, he'd never love like the love I know" makes it sound like it was a suicide rooted in hopelessness or low self-esteem, etc. Particularly low-self esteem because "of all us" makes it sound like the thought of never growing or changing is only seen in the mind of that person.

    The lines "In time, saw your future is not burning so bright / But if we live too long you'll live less like mine" explains the logic behind a suicide. The person might have killed themselves because they couldn't cope with the idea that they would never achieve their dreams or meet their own standards. This type of thinking could easily be attributed to low self-esteem or learned helplessness.

    Specifically, "But if we live too long you'll live less like mine" can be simplified to "Your dreams will only drift further away the longer you live." Once again, this is the logic attributed to the suicide, as thought by the victim.

    I wouldn't say it was suicide when the person in question was 10 (and Gourley was 2), but Gourley is just pointing out the age difference when he says "When you were ten and I was two." Really, that could just be a device for the purpose of writing good lyrics, instead of simply saying "oh hey, he was eight years older than me." If it is about suicide, it probably would have happened later.

    Just speculation really, but I think it makes some sense.
    Demeraldeseon July 02, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI think this song is very hard to figure out mainly because of all the different twists and turns throughout each line.

    "Of all of us he had to know he'd never grow,
    He'd never climb, he'd never love like the love I know.
    When I was two and he was ten they carried me,
    Through holograms they twisted into cosmic seas"

    Right there I believe it means there came a time in our existence that man believed they could not advance any further and faster.. so "they" carried me through holograms they twisted into cosmic seas. The part when I was two could mean when I was young and just starting life (not the physical life of being two years old). There seems to be a deeper meaning by that line because if you think about it in the non-physical sense.. when I was two and he ten (the being that did not believe they could grow) seems to go into what I was saying about the twisted change through cosmic seas. This leads us into the next part:

    Once was born of light like you
    Once was one but now I'm two
    When I was born of love like you
    When you were ten and I was two

    At one point life was born of light and then life grew from one to two. When I was born of love like you..we are all born of light and love and we all grow, but when you were ten seems to depict that "he" is always two or always the young life rather then the "older" life. I know that's hard to wrap your mind around but don't think it as the literal sense of me and you but life and existence in general. The next part kind of feeds back from the chorus..

    There were two monkeys talking sounding like little dogs
    They were barking and bitching about what was wrong
    In the world we were just spacemen taking a ride
    The gorilla's in his human suit reciting his lines, singing
    "We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off"

    When you were ten.. there were two monkeys talking and sounding like little dogs.. that seems to go on what I was saying with two representing young life and ten representing older life. I really don't know what the gorilla in the human suit means but it could mean we're all in "suits" reciting lines and in our current life we kinda get told you live and you learn or you live and you die. I don't really know but it could co-exist with something between our relationship with life (or space) and us being spacemen (part of society) taking a ride meaning living life and since now we're ten were all just going along with the way society is telling us to live (reciting our lines). Thats a stretch I know but it kinda makes sense if you link it with society. If you make the link then the next two parts makes more sense..

    Gathering is all we need to change the wind, for anything to die it needs first to begin.. that means just that we are all in this life together and we can change the way we live. Then they repeat and make you think twice about it and this is really where I think it links into society..

    In time, saw your future is not burning so bright
    If you live too long you'll live less like mine

    Ok if he is still two then he is young life and there are no monkeys barking and bitching about what is right and what is wrong and there is society telling us to recite our lines. Saw YOUR future is not burning so bright, that is ten the future they twisted through cosmic seas or the future society is leading us into today. If you live too much in that light you'll live less in the light of love and being like him which is young life and a simple life if youre using your imagination. THEN it leads into

    In time, if humans breed hate, love and lies would be traits of mine
    But I was of the future, past and present time

    In time, you're future is not burning so bright and humans are breeding hate (which is an understatement to say the least) but I was of the future, past, and present time really makes it seem like he is talking about being life in general. Which ties into once was one but now I'm two.

    Just my random take on what once was one could mean.
    Lifeofgoldon September 30, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationUnfortunately I can't actually interpret everything yet but this is my opinion on these lyrics:
    "There were two monkeys talking sounding like little dogs
    They were barking and bitching about what was wrong
    In the world we were just spacemen taking a ride
    The gorilla's in his human suit reciting his lines, singing
    "We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off""
    Two normal humans talking about something and disagreeing (like abortion, gay marriage,whatever current social problem there is). They both have their opinion about what is wrong and what is not if it should be legal or not. What the band is trying to tell us that we are just normal people in a huge universe and we are just observing the world as best as we can as we don't have any real influence in the great cosmic power. No one has the right to say what is morally right or wrong. We will all die at one point. We are not immortal. We should use the limited time we have on this planet to be good to each other even if we disagree. There is no wrong interpretation and this is what I get from the song. Have a nice day!
    decayedCellon April 01, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretationreally sounds like he is referring to an older brother or relative. This was probably my least favorite song on the album, until i read the lyrics. Dudes just an amazing writer an had a great way of putting this into perspective. great shit
    jumpshipon August 15, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti have to agree. for me the instrumentation seemed weird like they just took two separate songs they were making and stuck them together with lyrics, its grown on me now, and the lyrics definitely changed my mind. i still cant figure out the ten and two thing myself.
    morningson August 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti loved it from the start
    abstract lyrics are the shit
    fantastic toasteron September 26, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat I get from this song is that we all come from the same fundamental life. We are born, we live, we die, and are born again. We all turn on, we all turn off. We all share similar characteristics that are commonly overlooked... to live, to love, to create. We are all born of the same light and with the light you gave me I shall live and die and give that light to new life.
    gandalf215on July 05, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere were two monkeys talking sounding like little dogs
    They were barking and bitching about what was wrong
    In the world we were just spacemen taking a ride
    The gorilla's in his human suit reciting his lines, singing
    We all, we all, we all turn on, we all, we all, we all turn off ...in time

    The references to primates is a reminder that we humans are just animals. The "human suit" consists of the intangibles in our head that cause us to elevate ourselves above other creatures. The arguments we have which we attribute so much significance to in our heads, really amount to nothing more than a dog's barking.

    The third line relates to how, on a large scale, we are all astronauts on spaceship earth going on a ride through space.

    The last line is a reminder that all things born will die.
    Zedonon July 12, 2014   Link
  • -1
    My InterpretationI always believed this chorus was a comparison between two people's emotional equality and how it changed with time. Initially, the person comparing the two believes they shared similar light & love, but over time they drifted apart because one of them loses said light & love. The 10 & 2 part might refer to the almost opposite hand placement on a clock or moreso, a steering wheel. Basically, it's about two people involved in some sort of relationship who ultimately branch off from each other because of emotional changes in one or even both of them.
    Jezeuson February 28, 2013   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain