The greatest minds of our time tell us that time is relative.
It’s true – we all experience time differently.
But if there’s one thing that’s true about time, it’s that it only moves forward.
We can’t go back and change the past.
It’s no surprise, then, that there are so many great songs about what many consider to be the most precious resource in existence.
Let’s explore 29 songs about time.
“Too Much Time On My Hands” by Styx
Song year: 1981
Talk to a group of people, and it’s unlikely that any of them would tell you they have too much time on their hands.
But boredom can sometimes drive you crazy.
We’ve all been there.
It could be that you don’t have a meaningful goal to strive towards.
Maybe you’re waiting on someone.
Maybe you can’t sleep and can’t shut off your mind.
It could even be that, for whatever reason, you're confined to a room where there's nothing to do.
Whatever the case may be, this is a good song to put on when you feel restless and like you might be going crazy.
“Back In Time” by Huey Lewis And The News
Song year: 1985
Better known as that song from Back to the Future, “Back In Time” is an upbeat classic about time travel.
There’s not a whole lot more to say about the song, but if you’re in the mood to be taken back in time, put this tune on and jam along.
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
Song year: 1984
A classic ballad from the 80s.
The lyrics leave things somewhat open ended in that it could represent any relationship.
Based on the background of the song, it’s clear that it’s about romantic relationships, though that doesn’t mean it couldn’t apply elsewhere.
Clearly, it’s about two people who aren’t keeping pace with each other and therefore have trouble connecting.
But the lyrics are ultimately encouraging:
“If you’re lost you can look and you will find me/Time after time/If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting/Time after time.”
Even when things are difficult, some relationships are worth holding onto.
If you’ve stood by your partner time after time, this ballad knows where you’ve been.
“Time” by Pink Floyd, A 70s Song About Time
Song year: 1974
Time is relative.
We know that because each passing year seems to go faster as you get older.
Earlier in life you might feel like a year is a long time.
Then, gradually, you realize how short it is.
Before long, you’re out of time.
That’s the sentiment reflected in Pink Floyd’s “Time.”
“25 Or 6 To 4” by Chicago
Song year: 1970
“25 or 6 to 4” is a rock classic with brilliant music.
The lyrics, however, are literally about songwriter Robert Lamm trying to come up with lines.
And, as he looks at the clock, he notes that it’s 25 or 6 to 4.
In a way, you could say that it’s a song that was borne out of boredom.
You could also say it’s a song about waiting for inspiration to come to you.
Inspiration doesn’t always come when you want it to.
But that could nevertheless be the subject of a song, as this essential Chicago tune shows.
“Time Is On My Side” by The Rolling Stones
Song year: 1982
“Time Is On My Side” is a song about a young girl who wants to party instead of staying in a relationship with the narrator.
So, the narrator tells her to go her own way because “Time is on my side, yes it is.”
He’s confident she’ll come back to him in due time.
“Time Of The Season” by The Zombies
Song year: 1968
“Time Of The Season” is essentially a hippie anthem.
The song proclaims, “It’s the time of the season for loving” but as we know, there is no designated season for love, or for that matter, “loving.”
You could argue that “season” in this case refers to youth but that might be giving the song a little too much credit.
It still stands as an amazing song either way.
“It’s About Time” by Van Halen
Song year: 2004
Van Halen hasn’t released any new music since 1998.
And, to be honest, most people wrote off Van Halen III featuring Extreme singer Gary Cherone, so for some, 1995 was the last time they'd heard anything from Van Halen.
The 1998 release showed some promise, but production was rushed, song ideas weren’t fully developed, and the arrangements were a little all over the map.
But that’s when Van Halen released their greatest hits collection, which included a couple of new songs, including this one.
No wonder “it’s about time.”
If you’ve been waiting for things to come together in your life, and they finally do, this is the perfect celebration/victory song to put on.
“The Time Warp” by Richard O’Brien
Song year: 1975
If you’ve seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, then there’s no way you missed this song.
It mostly just sounds like an upbeat dance tune.
But underlying that are themes of lust and possibly even escapism.
If you want to do the time warp again, then you’ve got to put this song on.
“Remember The Time” by Michael Jackson, A Timeless Song
Song year: 1992
“Remember The Time” is a song about someone who’s recounting when they first met their lover, talking about how amazing it was.
The twist, of course, is that the couple are no longer together.
But as human beings we are hardwired to remember the times when we fall in love, and those memories can stay with us for a lifetime.
“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is?” by Chicago
Song year: 1969
Musically, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” is another brilliant work by the band Chicago.
Lyrically, it seems to be a song about depression and sadness.
As the chorus goes:
“Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)/Does anybody really care (care about time)/If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)/We’ve all got time enough to cry.”
At the very least, it’s a song about being displaced or being a fish out of water.
Songwriter Robert Lamm admits it’s a bit of a quirky song, and that was partly the intent.
“Caught Somewhere In Time” by Iron Maiden
Song year: 1986
“Caught Somewhere In Time” is a song about selling your soul.
Were you expecting something less dramatic from Iron Maiden?
The repeated line, “Time is always on my side” only serves to increase the creepiness and sinister nature of the song.
Eternity isn’t a concept we can comprehend, but if you’ve ever wondered about it, this song might pique your interest.
“Falling For The First Time” by Barenaked Ladies
Song year: 2000
As with many Barenaked Ladies songs, on the surface, this seems like a lighthearted one.
The upbeat music doesn’t exactly help matters either.
But the verses are basically about life’s inherent contradictions/paradoxes.
It’s also about how making mistakes can hurt, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made leading up to the latest one.
The narrator, however, is left with these lessons:
“Anyone perfect must be lying/Anything easy has its cost/Anyone plain can be lovely/Anyone loved can be lost.”
Although the song doesn’t offer any resolution, it’s indicative of growth.
There’s no way you can know if “the worst is behind”, but you can continue to learn from life’s lessons.
“Good Times Roll” by The Cars
Song year: 1979
Everyone remembers the chorus to this classic.
Yet, a closer examination of the lyrics reveals this song isn’t about “good times” at all:
“Let the good times roll/Let them knock you around/Let the good times roll/Let them make you a clown.”
Songwriter, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek said the song is about expectation versus reality.
Many people think becoming a rock and roll star would be a dream come true.
Yet, the “good times” aren’t as good as they may seem from the outside looking in.
It’s a bit of a complex and nuanced song that way but knowing what it’s about can give you a new appreciation for it too.
“Clocks” by Coldplay, One Of The Best Songs About Time Ever
Song year: 2003
Speaking of complex songs, the poetic “Clocks” isn’t exactly forthcoming with its message either.
But this trademark song from British rock band Coldplay is clearly about urgency.
The narrator isn’t happy about the situation, either, as indicated by these lines:
“Come out upon my seas/Cursed missed opportunities am I/A part of the cure/or am I part of the disease, singing.”
If you’ve ever felt like time was slipping through your hands, then you can probably capture the essence of this tune.
“Now” by Def Leppard
Song year: 2002
While musically it might be a bit of a departure from hard rock, hair metal, or even the slightly grungy/alternative sound Def Leppard became known for in the mid to late 90s, “Now” is just a simple song about being in love.
The narrator is crazy about someone and they want to share the feelings they feel inside “now”, in this moment.
I love how the Leppard found a new way to say an old thing.
“Youth Of Yesterday” by The Veer Union
Song year: 2009
Thematically, Canadian rock band The Veer Union seems to write quite a few songs related to time.
“Youth Of Yesterday” seems to be alluding to someone who gave up on their dreams, thus “the youth of yesterday.”
The narrator is asking the youth of yesterday not to blame him for chances not taken and a life “wasted.”
This is a song about taking responsibility for where you’ve ended up in your life.
It’s not anyone else’s fault that you are where you are.
If you don’t want to end up full of regret, start taking more chances now.
“Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day
Song year: 1997
This acoustic number might be one of the most “punk rock” things Green Day has ever done.
But considering the source, we know that this song couldn’t possibly be about having the “time of your life”, especially with a title like “Good Riddance.”
I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble.
But it seems to me Billie Joe Armstrong is making fun of people who spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror and patting themselves on the back for their miniscule accomplishments.
That’s just my interpretation of the song, however, as Armstrong himself has said it’s a song about his old girlfriend Amanda, who moved to Ecuador.
Thus, “good riddance.”
“It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right/I hope you had the time of your life.”
“Yesterday” by The Beatles
Song year: 1965
The fans may not have noticed at the time, but when The Beatles released the album Help!, they were genuinely calling out for help.
And, “Yesterday” appears on that album.
The call for help seems oh so straightforward looking at it now:
“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away/Now it looks as through they’re here to stay/Oh, I believe in yesterday.”
We’ve all gone through difficult moments.
Sometimes, we’ve even wanted to go back in time, perhaps in attempt to correct our mistakes.
“Yesterday” seems to capture these sentiments brilliantly.
“Final Moment” by The Veer Union
Song year: 2009
Have you ever felt like you weren’t living even though you’re alive?
That seems to be the theme of “Final Moment”, a song about being drawn into temptation instead of following the path you know to be right and true.
Life isn’t linear, so vigilance isn’t always enough to ensure you’re on the right course.
That could be why the narrator is “Broke and bruised from fighting for it.”
“Final Moment” is the moment you finally decide to put up a fight for what’s right.
“Never Too Late” by Disciple, A Metal Song About Time
Song year: 2019
While there are some uplifting songs about time, many of them tend to be about how time goes by too quickly.
The message behind Disciple's new tune, “Never Too Late”, of course, is that things can always turn around.
As the chorus says:
“I don’t care about what they say/I don’t care about the names they rain on you/It’s never too late to start again/It’s never too late to have faith again/I know the places you’ve been/I know the shame that is suffocating you/It’s never too late to start again/It’s never too late if you’re breathing.”
“Times Of Your Life” by Paul Anka
Song year: 1975
“Times Of Your Life” is another reflective song about the passage of time and years gone by.
In summary, the song is basically about collecting as many memories as you can while you can, because that’s all life is about.
That is certainly one way of looking at things!
“When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles
Song year: 1967
Upon first listen, you might conclude that “When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles is a lighthearted song about aging.
Knowing The Beatles, however, they could have been dead serious when writing the song.
The narrator simply asks:
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me/When I'm sixty-four.”
“Take Your Time” by Sam Hunt
Song year: 2014
This is not a song about taking one’s time as in, “it’s okay, take your time.”
It’s not a song about having romantic’s intentions either.
It’s more a song about wanting to keep someone all to yourself.
Creepy stuff if you ask me.
“Seasons” by The Veer Union
Song year: 2008
Have you gone through tough times in the past?
If not, you almost certainly will at some point.
Difficult times can leave people feeling disempowered, unable to move forward with their lives.
That’s what “Seasons” is about.
It’s a song that encourages us to learn from our challenges and keep moving forward.
“24 Hours” by Richie Kotzen
Song year: 2011
Despite its somewhat dramatic sounding title, Richie Kotzen’s “24 Hours” is about being addicted to another’s love.
It’s about staying up all night with them, even if it’s making a mess of your life.
Whether it’s lust or love, sometimes we are powerfully drawn to another.
“Get It Right The First Time” by Billy Joel
Song year: 1977
The stories we tell ourselves are sometimes kind of funny, aren’t they?
In this song, the protagonist says he’s got to get it right the first time with the woman of his dreams.
He probably doesn’t know much about her.
It’s possible he’s barely even talked to her.
But he just knows he’s “gotta get it right the first time.”
I wonder what happens when he doesn’t get it right.
“Lost In Time” by Celldweller
Song year: 2014
This song is a call for help.
It's about not knowing your place in the world and feeling like time is just passing you by while everything stays the same.
People often say, “where has the time gone?”
This song is about someone who's feeling distraught over it.
“One More Time” by Real McCoy
Song year: 1997
No hidden meanings here.
“One More Time” is a song about hooking up, plain and simple.
Pretty standard stuff for late 90s dance music.
The Best Songs About Time, Final Thoughts
There are a lot of great songs about time, aren’t there?
And, some are uplifting.
Others can be kind of depressing.
Our relationship to time reveals a lot about who we are as human beings, how we experience life and what we make our experiences mean.
Do you feel like you’ve understood something about the mystery of time now?