Walking on Thin Ice  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Walking on Thin Ice" is a New Wave/dance song by Yoko Ono, released in 1981. She and John Lennon concluded the recording of the song on December 8, 1980. It was upon their return from the recording studio to The Dakota (their home in New York City) that Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman. Lennon had stayed up all night the preceding weekend listening to a preliminary mix of the song, and died clutching a final mix of it in his hands. Lennon's lead guitar work on the track, which he had recorded that day, and praised by many as the most fascinating of his career, was thus his final creative act. At the end of January 1981, "Walking on Thin Ice" was released as a single and became Ono's first chart success, peaking at number 58 in the US and gaining major underground airplay. The single was released in February 1981 in the UK and reached number 35 on the chart.

The lyrics talk of the unpredictability of life and death — of "throwing the dice in the air" — and reach the conclusion, "when our hearts return to ashes, it will be just a story....". With the world in shock, a new poignancy was added to the already haunting yet highly danceable track.

In 2003, riding on the success of several Ono club remixes including "Open Your Box" and "Kiss Kiss Kiss", "Walking on Thin Ice" was released as a maxi-single with remixes by distinguished dance artists including the Pet Shop Boys, Danny Tenaglia and Felix Da Housecat. It met incredible success, spending many weeks on the US dance chart before reaching number one, beating Madonna and Justin Timberlake. On the extended 12" mix of the original track (available as the B-side to "Cape Clear"), John Lennon can be heard remarking "I think you just cut your first number one, Yoko." The remix was released in the UK in 2003, and it reached number 35 on the chart, the exact same position as the original reached in 1981.

"It Happened" was selected as the B-side to the 1981 single - a slower, mellow track about acceptance from Ono's vaults that was originally recorded for A Story and had already seen limited release in Japan as the B-side to "Yume O Moto". Much like the A-side, the lyrics have a new haunting quality given Lennon's assassination: "It happened at a time of my life/When I least expected... And I know there's no return, no way". In the essay on the back of the single, Ono talks about how Lennon picked out this track from her old tapes and marked it as a hit. She said "No way!" to which he responded "I'll make it a hit". He was killed hours later.


1981 Geffen
  • 7" P/S single(w/It Happened on the flipside)
  • 7" promo w/radio edit
  • 12" P/S single (+"Hard Times Are Over")
  • Cassingle (+"Hard Times Are Over")
1985 Polygram
  • B-side to "Cape Clear" 12" (extended version)
1992 Rykodisc
1997 Rykodisc
2000 Capitol Records
2003 as Ono on Twisted Records
  • CD Maxi-single of remixes
  1. Pet Shop Boys Radio Mix
  2. Danny Tenaglia Walked Across the Lake Mix
  3. Pet Shop Boys Electro Mix
  4. Felix da Housecat's Tribute Mix
  5. Pet Shop Boys Extended Dance Mix
  6. Rui da Silva's Kismet Mix
  7. Peter Rauhofer Electro Mix
  8. Orange Factory Radio Mix
  9. Fkek Vocal Mix
  10. Peter Rauhofer Chill Mix
  • CD single with Pet Shop Boys and Danny Tenaglia mixes
  • Double-12" single pack
2007 Rhino Records

  1. Yoko Ono - "Walking on Thin Ice" (PSB Electro mix) – 6:28 </OL>


    Yoko Ono herself directed a music video for "Walking on Thin Ice" which was released in February 1981. In 2003 Mike Mills and Arya Senboutaraj (one half of the directing duo Rainbows & Vampires) directed an animated black and white video featuring the "Pet Shop Boys Electro Mix Edit" of the song. You can watch it here or here.


    Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Walking on Thin Ice" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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