Human life is full of limitations, and one of the essential and equating limitations is time, the thing that we cannot get enough of. We cannot understand how time is synthesized. The intriguing element of the song is the message of time that is depicted by the lyrics, rhythm and beat. The first response when listening to the song is caused by the sound that sets the mood of time ticking away. The song begins with an original rhythm track imitating ticking of clocks, ringing of alarm clocks, church bells, and chime which sets a tone of diminishing time (RSS). It is juxtaposed with a return of a heartbeat that is slower suggesting the ending of life. There is the use of quadraphonic sound, and when you first hear the song with a pair of headphones, you get an impression of sound coming from different and separate sources. The lyrics in the song donate the literal passage of time. It almost seems that the band’s intention is to alert to the idea of time loss within the society (Hignett). It gives the impression of how precious time is though many people take it for granted. Pink Floyd wrote and composed the song “Time” for the best reasons to bring awareness on how time can slip away without many people realizing it until it is too late.
Rogers Waters, a member of the band who wrote the song realized he was not prepared for anything in life rather he was in the middle of it (Ortiz). The song begins when a man finds his time dull and boring. The man is failing to do something that is worthwhile thus wasting a lot of time. Instead, he stays in his comfort zone and expects life to give him direction rather than actively seeking one for himself. The idle figure lacks any ambition or any sense of course hence he appears to have overstayed in his “hometown.” Soon, he comes to realize that he has failed to put a chunk of time to good use in his lifetime. The man in the song starts to understand that he is the one who has the power to give direction to his life. Nevertheless, as he runs to live his life, he cannot reach that elusive objective and aim to live he desires – “the sun which is sinking.” Therefore, the sun rounding him is a metaphorical expression representing a mockery at his effort to try to achieve the impossible.
The theme of anxiety is portrayed in the song with illustrating that during the attempt to “reach the sun” the runner has gained nothing but the “shortness of breath.” The shortness of breath is a metaphorical representation of yet another wasted day. Trying to reach the sun is a metaphor depicting an unachievable goal. It also represents the concern that the runner is one day closer to his death, thus running out of time. Hence, this depicts frustrations which the man is going through thus causing worry, anxiety, and fear that he is living an unfulfilling life. The stanza shows how we run to try and make up for the lost time but it is too late, we are getting older, and time is limited.
The theme of anger and frustration is depicted at the beginning of the song. The first stanza is characterized with a loud distorted electric guitar sound and singing in almost a shouting manner. Thus, this combination suggests violent anger and frustration on behalf of the narrator directed towards the idle person. Anger and frustration are indicated by the rhyming accents emphasized at the end of each line, corresponding one to another (“day…away…way”):
“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.”
“Your fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand away.”
“Knocking around on a piece of ground in your hometown.”
“Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.”
The first two verses lecture to the audience on how people dangle around their hometown complaining that nothing exciting happens in their lives. The monotonous lifestyle is emphasized with the use of repetition sound through alliteration (“dull-day”). The boredom of life is also stressed by the use of internal rhyme (“around…ground…town”). The accents appear to be at the same pitch to heighten the effectiveness of conveying the overriding feeling of stress.
Another theme that is highlighted in the song is the impact of Carpe Diem (“seize the day”). It advocates for living for today thus avoiding procrastination, for grasping every opportunity when you’re still young before life and age catch up. The song ends with the final line: “The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d say something more today.” The song hero acknowledges that death is inevitable, hence the only way of living a fulfilling life is by maximizing on the day (RSS).
The songwriter applies metaphorical expression when he compares life to a race where “if you missed the starting gun,” you will be left out in the race of life. The listener is advised to “wake up” and be aware that time waits for no man. He must make the most of what he has in his lifetime. Nobody in this life will inform you about the right moment to live your life; therefore, it is through self-discovery that one can make proper use of his time. Hence, if you do not become aware, life is going to pass by you without your notice.
The essence of the song is to remind people that our time in this world is limited hence we should make the best of it by taking risks and getting out of our comfort zones. Thus, one will be able to avoid regrets for not living the life he yearns for.
Hignett, Graham. Brain Damage-Pink Floyd News Resource, 2010, http://www.brain-damage.co.uk/miscellaneous-articles/pink-floyds-time-an-analysis.html. Accessed 7 February 2017.
Ortiz, Lourdes. TIME -Pink Floyd , 2014, https://prezi.com/hv2cqrhoutx6/time-pink-floyd/. Accessed 6 February 2107.
RSS, Music Industry 330W Diane’s Blogs. “Time” By Pink Floyd (Song Analysis Paper), 2010, http://dseewald.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2010/02/20/time-bypink-floyd-song-analysis-paper/. Accessed 6 February 2017.
- Thesis: The song “Time” by Pink Floyd is about how time can slip away without people realizing it until it is too late.
- Reflection of the writer’s life in the song.
- The song’s main ideas, themes, arguments and purposes (time or lack of it, regrets). The use of literary techniques (metaphor, repetition, rhyme) to convey messages.