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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Top 10 Songs Called "Time," and What They Will Teach You

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM


"Time." It waits for nobody. It comes after time. It's a wastin'. It won't wait. (Insert ticking clock sound.) You'll get yours. It doesn't need you. It doesn't stand still. It's a one-way river.

"Time" is complicated stuff. Which is maybe why there are so many songs called, simply, "Time." (There are thousands more with the word "time" in their titles, too, but never mind those for the moment.)

With so many songs called this, we think it's high time someone went through all of them and figured out A) which ones are the best, and B) what they teach us about time (the word, the concept, etc). So spend a little time with us as we do just that, and maybe get a little indignant at just how damn long some of these songs called "Time" are.

10. "Time," Anthrax, 1990 (6:55)

First, this is a decent song -- it made the list -- but at nearly 7 minutes, it's about three-and-a-half-minutes more sonic flogging from Anthrax than we need. Secondly, this song is largely about paranoia, a condition which seems to be conspiring with time to make for extremely lazy rhyming: Life and death are fighting for my time/ I can't seem to find the time/ I want what's mine/ Time through the clock just keeps talking." If nothing else, at least we've seen how to discuss time with more flippancy than it deserves.

9. "Time," Ringo Starr," 2010 (3:55)

"Time waits for nobody/ And nobody waits for time," goes the opening couplet on this laid-back jam from 2010 Ringo, thus reinforcing a crucial principle of nearly all songs (and other discussions) about time: They're free to use as many cliches as they want. "Forget about yesterday/ this is the best day of your life," he sings, and he's certainly right. Why? Ringo's a drummer, people, and they know more about time than anyone else in the band.

8. "Time," INXS, 1993 (2:55)

In which INXS expresses a fundamental truth with a certain elegance: "It's only time that makes you," and "it's only time that breaks you." Well said, boys, and by now, you probably know even better what that means.

7. "Time," Hootie and the Blowfish, 1994 (4:53)

Hootie, er, Darius Rucker, doesn't believe in time! Which is funny, because time was, a Black country star would have been a strange thing. Not so much today. But what we really should take away from this is just how well the word "time" can be drawn out in a song: That opening line sounds more like "Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime," with five syllables, doesn't it? (Personal bias/Lesson 3: This Hootie song will always sound good, and if you don't like it you can fuck right off.)

6. "Time," Freddie Mercury, 1986 (2:57)

"Time/ It waits for nobody," Freddie sings, thus reinforcing the above principle that songs called "Time" are like dollar stores where all the cheap cliches are suddenly free. But let's get meta here: This is a song called "Time" from the two-album-length soundtrack of a Dave Clark musical also called Time. Which only goes to show that you can never spend too much time singing about time.

5. "Time" The Black Lips, 2011 (2:46)

Now, people, don't get all worried about time. "You keep on cryin' ... But I keep on movin'." This here is the unconcerned approach: Chill the fuck out already. You should be using your precious time to smoke drugs and speed down the road.

4. "Time," Cat Stevens," 1970 (1:26)

Possible truth: The best way to write a song called "Time" is to make it really, really short.

3. "Time," David Bowie," 1973 (5:14, single edit 3:38)

This is "Time" as a person/God/character -- a whore whose "trick is you and me." (We wonder why more haven't taken this approach in their songs called "Time.") Another reality: Songs called "Time" should be either quiet and melancholy or dynamic and epic. This one is the latter. It rules.

2. "Time," Tom Waits, 1985 (3:55)

We have officially entered the realm of true poetry about the subject of time. Waits takes the narrative, melancholy approach, and does it well.

1. "Time," Pink Floyd," 1973 (7:05; single edit 3:33)

A timeless "Time," whose overlong intro of course begins with that most jarring reminder of time: The cacophonous blare of a bunch of alarm clocks. Dingalingalingaling! This has to land near the top; sorry folks, but time is too serious a subject for surprises, brevity, or a non-English perspective.


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