Time (Pink Floyd song)

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Pink Floyd - Time (label).png
Single by Pink Floyd
from the album The Dark Side of the Moon
A-side "Us and Them"
Released 4 February 1974
Format 7-inch single
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
September 1972 – January 1973
Genre Progressive rock[1]
Length 3:33 (single edit)
7:01 (album version)
Label Harvest
Writer(s) Roger Waters (single edit)
David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright (album version)
Producer(s) Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd singles chronology
"Us and Them"
"Have a Cigar"
The Dark Side of the Moon track listing

"Time" is the fourth track from the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon, and the only song on the album credited to all four members of the band, though the lyrics were written by Roger Waters. It is the final Pink Floyd song credited to all four members and the last to feature Richard Wright on lead vocals until "Wearing the Inside Out" on The Division Bell. This song is about how time can slip by, but many people do not realise it until it is too late. Roger Waters got the idea when he realised he was no longer preparing for anything in life, but was right in the middle of it. He has described this realisation taking place at ages 28 and 29 in various interviews.[2] It is noted for its long introductory passage of clocks chiming and alarms ringing, recorded as a quadrophonic test by Alan Parsons, not specifically for the album.[3]


Time is in the key of F-sharp minor. Each clock at the beginning of the song was recorded separately in an antiques store. This is followed by a two-minute passage dominated by Nick Mason's drum solo, with rototoms and backgrounded by a tick-tock sound created by Roger Waters picking two muted strings on his bass. With David Gilmour singing lead on the verses and with Richard Wright singing lead on the bridges and with female singers and Gilmour providing backup vocals, the song's lyrics deal with Roger Waters' realization that life was not about preparing yourself for what happens next, but about grabbing control of your own destiny.[2]

He (Alan Parsons) had just recently before we did that album gone out with a whole set of equipment and had recorded all these clocks in a clock shop. And we were doing the song Time, and he said "Listen, I just did all these things, I did all these clocks," and so we wheeled out his tape and listened to it and said "Great! Stick it on!" And that, actually, is Alan Parsons' idea.

The drums used on the Time track are roto-toms. I think we did some experiments with some other drums called boo-bans, which are very small, tuned drums, but the roto-toms actually gave the best effect.

According to an interview by Phil Taylor in 1994, David Gilmour had been using a Lexicon PCM-70 to store the circular delay sounds heard in "Time", which could duplicate the kind of echo he used to get from his old Binson echo unit.[5]

The verse chords cycle through F♯ minor, A major, E major, and F♯ minor again. During this section, Gilmour's guitar and Wright's keyboards are panned to the extreme right and left of the stereo spectrum. Gilmour sings lead during this section.[6]

The bridge section, with Wright singing lead, has a notably "thicker" arrangement, with the female backing vocalists singing multi-tracked "oohs" and "aahs" throughout, and Gilmour singing harmony with Wright in the second half. The chords of this section are D major seventh to A major seventh, which is repeated. The D major seventh, with the notes of D, F♯, A, and C♯, can be heard as an F♯ minor chord with a D in the bass, fitting the song's overall key. The second half progresses from D major seventh to C# minor, then B minor to E major.[6]

The first bridge leads to a guitar solo by Gilmour, which plays over both the verse and bridge progressions. The solo is followed by another verse sung by Gilmour. When the bridge is repeated, it does not conclude on E major as before. Instead, the B minor leads to an F major chord, while Waters's bass stays on B, resulting in an unusual dissonance as a transition to the key of E minor for "Breathe (Reprise)".[6]

Pink Floyd performed the song live from 1972 to 1975, and after the departure of Waters, from 1987 to 1994. Waters began performing the song in his solo concerts, singing the verses himself, beginning in 1999 with In the Flesh and again with The Dark Side of the Moon Live from 2006 to 2008. Nick Mason made a number of guest appearances on the latter tour.


During live performances, the band back-projected a specially-commissioned, animated film by Ian Emes.[7][8] The film was subsequently included as an extra on the Pulse DVD[7]



  • Doris Troy – backing vocals
  • Lesley Duncan – backing vocals
  • Liza Strike – backing vocals
  • Barry St. John – backing vocals

Use in film and television[edit]

  • The song's opening was used at the end of the trailers for the second series of Life on Mars.
  • The song's opening was also used to introduce a 1970s BBC TV schools programme called Biology.
  • The song's opening was used at News Commentary of Iran's radio channel Radio Iran.
  • The song was used on a few occasions in the Cantonese language re-release of Bruce Lee's first adult starring role, The Big Boss.
  • The main part of the song was used as background music for professional skateboarder Mike Maldonado in his part in Jump Off a Building, the second video from skateboard company Toy Machine.
  • The song was used in the Cold Case episode "Flashover", originally airing on 21 March 2010. The episode featured songs from Pink Floyd.
  • WBZ-TV in Boston, MA used a portion of the song on a live camera video on November 7, 2010 (the first day of standard time in the US) during their 6 AM Sunday newscast.
  • The song was used in the British TV show, Misfits (TV series) episode six, season 3.
  • 1190, KTRA (now KFXR) in Dallas used the song as a 24/7 'stunt' for 2 weeks in January 2001 when Clear Channel, now iHeartMedia, bought the station from Radio One before flipping it to a sports talk format with FOX Sports radio.

Alternative and live versions[edit]

  • Live versions of the song can be heard on the Pulse concert DVD and CD and on the "Delicate Sound of Thunder" CD and VHS.
  • On the Roger Waters solo In the Flesh: Live tour DVD and CD, a version sung by him, Doyle Bramhall II and Jon Carin is played.
  • Live versions with Richard Wright appear on the David Gilmour solo Remember That Night DVD and Live in Gdańsk album. The Live in Gdańsk version segues into the "Breathe (Reprise)" section as a separate track under the title "Breathe (in the Air) (reprise)" rather than just "Breathe (Reprise)".
  • Gilmour played the song on the encores of his Rattle That Lock Tour 2015/16.
  • Part of the song is still used as a theme for a Bulgarian TV quiz game named "One minute's too long" ("Mинута е много"), which is the oldest Bulgarian TV game.


  1. ^ Murphy, Sean (22 May 2011). "The 25 Best Progressive Rock Songs of All Time". PopMatters. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "PINK FLOYD'S DARK SIDE OF THE MOON 4". Utopia.knoware.nl. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Schaffner, Nicholas (2005). "The Amazing Pudding". Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey (New ed.). London: Helter Skelter. p. 157. ISBN 1-905139-09-8. 
  4. ^ a b Kendall, Charlie (1984). "Shades of Pink - The Definitive Pink Floyd Profile". The Source Radio Show. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  5. ^ Tolinski, Brad (September 1994). "Welcome to the Machines". Guitar World. Retrieved 2011-07-29. 
  6. ^ a b c Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon (1973 Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd., London, England, ISBN 0-7119-1028-6 [USA ISBN 0-8256-1078-8])
  7. ^ a b Mabbett, Andy (2010). Pink Floyd - The Music and the Mystery. London: Omnibus,. ISBN 978-1-84938-370-7. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Lorne (2010-08-06). "The wild ideas of Birmingham film-maker Ian Emes". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 7 August 2010. 

External links[edit]