“Time may change me, but you cant trace time” – the concept of time may well be as cryptic as these David Bowie lyrics. Past, present, future. Seconds, minutes, hours. Days, weeks, months. And so on. But we don’t solely use the literal meaning of the word. Time is hidden in memories, changes, nostalgia. It is always there but gone in that instance. When talking about time, being a little (pseudo) philosophical isinevitable. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that time is topic of a range of songs.
Time Is For Everyone
For decades, we have been taught to enjoy and live in the moment. Carpe Diem! However, memories, positive and negative ones, and the past are a constant part of the present and an influence to the future. Hence, there is a definition of time in the term hope. “There have been times that I thought I couldn't last for long / But now I think I’m able to carry on / It's been a long, a long time coming / But I know a change is gonna come”. In “A Change is Gonna Come”, Sam Cooke sings about experiences from his life and the life of many Afro-Americans. The racism he had to face, for instance when he was denied access to a motel, inspired him to write a song that gives hope to the African-American society. “A change is gonna come. Oh yes it will”. Released in 1964, the song was a contribution to the Civil Rights Movement of the late 50s and 60s.
“It’s just a jump to the left,
and then a step to the right,
with your hands on your hips,
and bring your knees in tight!
But it's the pelvic thrust
that really drives you insane!
Let's do the time warp again!
Let's do the time warp again!”
Songs such as the Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979” or Bill Hayley’s ““Rock Around The Clock” however, will transfer us in to a different time. Sometimes music manages to capture a certain zeitgeist and spirit. “A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido”. Like with many Nirvana songs, the message of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” isn’t exactly clear. Still the song became, with all its cryptic lyrics, its catchy guitar riff and Cobain’s scratchy voice, one of the best known hymns about the Grunge kids of the 90s.
Time Goes By
Even though time is a universal phenomenon, at the same time it is something very personal. It comprises memories with people, which can be temporary. What “I Miss You” by Blink-182 is about, is pretty clear. Guitar player Tom DeLonge explained it as following: "The song's more about the vulnerability and kind of heart-wrenching pain you feel when you're in love and when you're a guy and you're trying to tell a girl, 'Don't waste your time coming and talking to me because, in my head at least, you probably already gave me up a long time ago’”.
And to go with this, here comes another cliché or saying: time heals all wounds. However, the worse the wounds the slower time seems to pass, and the better the moment, the faster it goes by. “The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death.” The song “Time” by progressive rock band Pink Floyd powerfully describes how fast time really passes, without us even noticing. It therefore captures the best and worst quality of time. Without using any clichés.