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Home arrow Articles arrow Miscellaneous Articles arrow Pink Floyd's "Time" - an analysis
Pink Floyd's "Time" - an analysis Print E-mail
Written by Graham Hignett   
Wednesday, 10 November 2010

TimeThis site aims to look at all aspects of Pink Floyd and associated works, and we are always after contributions from people. After all, without you, this site would really struggle and wouldn't have the breadth of coverage and opinion that we all enjoy.

In the following article, submitted by Brain Damage regular Graham Hignett, he takes a look at the track "Time" from the band's 1973 classic, The Dark Side of The Moon, and analyses what the song means to him...


“Time is the fire in which we burn”
- a quote from a poem by Delmore Schwartz (later used in a Star Trek movie), and a great line which already sums up the stark warning contained within the Pink Floyd masterpiece 'Time'.

You would probably think that my list of things that make me feel uneasy is quite bizarre. Just to give you a little example – ED209 from Robocop 1 makes me feel uneasy as there is just something about the automaton towering over you in a room and not allowing you to escape. It kinda gets me on edge when I see that. What else makes me feel uneasy, the words to 'Time'.

We all know that the whole of Dark Side Of The Moon is about your life from birth to death, but there is something about 'Time' that for me – stands out on this album.

I used to hate the opening chimes on 'Time' and for many years thought it spoiled the whole album. Sure it used to be the cause of much fun at the weekend when we used to select 'Time' on the jukebox in that basement pub then watch as 3 or 4 unknowing drinkers would get up and head for the stairs thinking the opening bells and chimes was the fire alarm going off. But in recent years I have formed my own understanding of the intro and now gladly accept the chimes.

To me, the chimes are a wake up call. Its said that in some situations you should have realised something as “alarm bells were ringing”, well this is that very same alarm bell. These alarm bells not only signify the start of the track, but also signify that you really should take notice of what is about to happen. What is about to happen? What is about to happen is that you are about to be given a quick short sharp shock and be bluntly told that your time on this green and blue globe is drifting away. I read somewhere once that the Radiohead line from No Surprises was a reference to 'Time' in that Thom Yorke sings “no alarms and no surprises please”. I don't know if that is true or not but as I have said – it was my thinking for years that the alarms/chimes were a pain to the inner ear, but now I love the inclusion of the alarms/chimes and the song would not be the same without them.

The lesson in 'Time' is a veiled one as it is formed within a perfectly produced piece comprising of superb vocals, backing vocals, drum intros and sweeping guitar solos. Its such a good song that doesn't really impact your thoughts until you turn it off and actually sit and read the lyrics.

There is nothing you will read here that you cant decipher for yourself by listening to the track, I just thought it would be interesting to put down my thoughts as although there are great meanings behind many songs, usually about love or politics – 'Time' applies to each and every one of us. If we could read the lyrics of 'Time' at the age of 10 and really know its message then a lot of us would have led different lives.

Yes the song '19' by Paul Hardcastle is unnerving because of its messages about war and the age of the combat soldier. Yes the song 'Streets Of London' by Ralph McTell is unnerving because it addresses homelessness and people who have everything they own in a plastic carrier bag. But above all else (and without taking away from the subject matter of the other tracks I mentioned) I do think 'Time' is the singular track throughout the vast amount of music I have heard that gives a clear message we can all relate to and in our later years all get a bit unnerved by its meanings.

'Time' is a song about reflective moments, but I think its true usefulness comes in acknowledging its message and breathing in the air while you still can.

Well, that's the end of my rambling thoughts about what I consider to be the best lyrics in any song, Pink Floyd or otherwise. I hope you don't feel I have wasted your 'Time' with this half page of scribbled lines. If you do then ask yourself where else you can read about Pink Floyd, Star Trek, Ralph McTell and Robocop all in the same short article and get back to running to catch up with the sun, because guess what... its sinking!

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