One Very Important Thought – Unpacking the Fight for Freedom

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Boards of Canada's One Very Important Thought at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. An Ambient Advocate for Civil Liberties
  5. Decode the Hidden Transmission
  6. Reflecting on Our Constitutional Rights
  7. Beyond Obscenity: A Broader Cultural Critique
  8. Memorable Lines: A Beacon for the Vigilant


Now that the show is over
and we have jointly exercised our constitutional rights
We would like to leave you with one very important thought
Sometime in the future
you may have the opportunity to serve as a juror
in a so-called obscenity case
It would be wise to remember that the same people
Who would stop you from viewing an adult film
May be back next year to complain about a book or even a TV program
If you can be told what you can see or read
Then it follows that you can be told what to say or think
Defend your constitutionally protected rights
No one else will do it for you
Thank you

Full Lyrics

In the eclectic cadence of ambient music, Boards of Canada’s ‘One Very Important Thought’ whispers a seemingly minute statement that reverberates with the tumult of a civilization at the crossroads of liberty and censorship. The song, closing their album ‘Music Has the Right to Children,’ serves more as an epilogue than a traditional tune, setting a contemplative mood for the listener to digest the auditory journey they’ve just experienced.

It’s a track that, despite its tranquility, holds a potent message about civil rights and freedoms—a call to arms, not with the clash of steel, but with the might of thought and the defense of personal liberties. This sentiment, though wrapped in the soothing ambient tones characteristic of the Scottish electronic duo, is piercing in its clarity and urgency.

An Ambient Advocate for Civil Liberties

At first listen, the gentle hum of ‘One Very Important Thought’ might lull one into a false sense of serene finality. But Boards of Canada have a talent for embedding profound narratives within their music. The track is an anomaly in their discography—a spoken word piece that serves as a vehicle for an essential message. It addresses the listener directly, enjoining them to remember that the freedoms they enjoy are fragile and must be actively defended.

The mention of adult films and obscenity cases isn’t accidental; it’s a direct bout against censorship, against the powers that challenge the agency of individuals in the realm of expression. The song does not simply muse about an abstract possibility; it grounds itself in real-world issues that impact how communities and societies function.

Decode the Hidden Transmission

‘One Very Important Thought’ carries its meaning not just through its words, but through its placement at the end of an album that delves in nostalgia, childhood memories, and the simplicity of perception before societal constructs take hold. By closing with a statement on censorship and freedom, Boards of Canada juxtapose the innocence of youth with the convoluted responsibilities of adulthood, and the liberties that come under threat as one grows.

The song isn’t just a warning; it is a hidden transmission, quietly urging listeners to awaken to the complexities of adult life—complexities that include safeguarding the very foundations of self-expression. The duo’s choice to present this thought in a calm, unobtrusive manner adds to its poignancy and its strength. It’s an invitation to reflect and internalize rather than an agitation that could be easily dismissed. Boards of Canada achieves a stirring kind of activism by blending it with their ambient soundscapes.

Reflecting on Our Constitutional Rights

Beyond mere commentary on censorship, ‘One Very Important Thought’ offers an urgent reminder of the responsibility each citizen holds in the face of freedom’s fragility. It’s a meditation on the individual’s role within the collective—a role that requires vigilance and action when freedoms are imperiled. The track thus transcends music and delves into the realm of social commentary, encouraging listeners to do more than just exercise their rights—to defend them.

The invocation of the constitution serves as a reminder that these rights are not simply granted, but fought for and secured through the enduring vigilance of the populace. By incorporating the legal framework into the song’s message, Boards of Canada bridge the gap between the theoretical and the practical aspects of liberty.

Beyond Obscenity: A Broader Cultural Critique

Though the song explicitly mentions pornography and obscenity laws, its critique is much broader, encompassing the struggle against the suppression of free thought and expression in any form. It warns of a slippery slope where today’s socially acceptable censorship could spiral into tomorrow’s thought policing. This tracks with historical patterns of cultural suppression and is articulated with deliberate care, reminding listeners of past lessons and future risks.

This broader cultural critique unifies the band’s body of work, often rife with themes of nostalgia and innocence lost. ‘One Very Important Thought’ serves as a powerful conclusion, an implicit statement that adulthood—and the broader society that comes with it—is permeated with battles, both against external forces of control and internal tendencies towards apathy and acquiescence.

Memorable Lines: A Beacon for the Vigilant

The lines ‘If you can be told what you can see or read, then it follows that you can be told what to say or think’ pack a profound punch. They resonate with the truth of the slippery slope of censorship—a cautionary prophecy that remains relevant in a world where information and expression are under constant negotiation.

It strikes at the heart of the individual’s autonomy and becomes a sort of mantra for the vigilant, the free thinkers, and the guardians of civil liberties. In the subdued simplicity of its delivery, this phrase from ‘One Very Important Thought’ lingers long after the music fades, prompting reflection and, the band hopes, action.

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