“Behind our eyes,
Calendars of our lives.
Circled with compromise.
Sweet bird of time and change.
You must be laughing, up on your feathers laughing.
Golden in time.
Cities under the sand.
Power ideals and beauty fading in everyone’s hand.
Give me some time, I feel like I’m losing mine
Out here on this horizon line with the earth spinning and the sky forever rushing.
No one knows they can never get that close.
Guesses at most.”
© Joni Mitchell, from the album The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, 1975
I’ve been thinking about this one for a while and recently been ruminating on adding it to the KOAS project list. Some of you may remember from previous posts about the Monnow Valley BASCA Songwriting Retreats that this was a track that was developed between myself, Nicky Kelly and Alan West on the Saturday of that weekend.
Given that we couldnt really find anything on the tipsheets that we’d been given that we could settle on, we decided to go off-menu. I remember suggesting a form of protest song, along the lines of Both Sides Now. My long term collaborator Robert Pearce and I had come up with something based on an idea of writing a protest song or an environmental song that wasnt preachy. Thats a whole other story and we did put together some really good lyrics for that, but thats on the backburner for now.
This Time, on the other hand, is a song where I contributed about 50% of the lyrics and most of the 2nd and 3rd verse. So, its a proper 3 way collaboration. The music is all Nicky and Alan who are far better musicians than I will ever be. I think the interpretations that we have of it and the visions that we have of this song are quite different. The vision that I’ve got, production-wise is almost like a Joni Mitchell song being sung/destroyed by Bob Geldorf, or even better, a young Edward Tudorpole – I think it needs that punky angry-ness, but without losing control.
It could be argued that it might contain a lot of lyrical cliches and is maybe a bit too clever for its own good. Well, for what its worth, those buzzwords are deliberately used as lyrical hooks for precisely that reason. I think its the closest I’m ever likely to get to a full-on protest song. Certainly for now anyway. I’ve always seen music as an escape from politics, not a means of demanding and pushing for social change. I know a lot of people, including artists that I’ve admired, do like doing just that, but its not me I’m afraid.
Dirt tracks buried away
by hot tarmac’d motorways
Old boots that tread old roots
They’re not getting you where you wanna be
Cobbled streets now paved away
Starry night leads to foggy days
Old trees? Tear ’em down
To build another new town…
This Time is getting me down
The ladder’s pulled up, I’m left on the ground
The low hanging fruit has already gone
Nothing left for me but the morning sun…
Your messages are hard to trust
Theres nothing to gain from speaking up
TV begs you to heed its call
On a thousand channels of nothing at all.
Broken windows you leave behind
Splintered doorways hide selfish minds
You left your children a loaded gun
When are you gonna think about what you’ve done?
The change is coming, no matter what you say
Your chance to care is fading away
You sit on your thrones in your kingdoms of rust
I’ll be the one to clean up your dust…
Ch ad lib to fade.
© 2015 Music by Nicky Kelly & Alan West, lyrics by Steve McCarthy-Hunt, Nicky Kelly & Alan West.