Growing up, one of my absolutely favourite bands was Pink Floyd. I had all the albums, I’d memorised all the lyrics, I’d learned all (okay, some) of the guitar solos. ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Animals’, ‘The Wall’—these were pivotal moments in my youth. I refracted my understanding of the world through them, and the concepts the band explored within those albums and more undoubtedly helped shape my perspective on a number of fundamental issues. It’s not exactly the most original thing to say that you liked Pink Floyd as a young ‘un, but the band really did mean the world to me. They still do, but I hardly ever listen to them. My opinion of them hasn’t changed—I still think they’re one of the most incredible musical acts to ever exist, and my emotional connection with their albums remains as strong as ever—I just rarely find the time to actually listen to them anymore.
Floyd had pretty fantastic lyrics throughout, but one of the songs that used to really blow my mind was ‘Time’, from ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. At 16, I had this vague awareness that time was a slippery beast. Occasionally I had felt the uncanny sensation of noticing that a week or month had zoomed past me without me properly marking its passage. I knew that this was the way of things, but even though I understood it in a theoretical way, it’s not until now that I realise how little I understood it in a visceral, lived experience kind of way. I remember what it was like then, listening to ‘Time’, and understanding the lyrics and their description of time’s inexorable onward march in a similarly abstract manner. Yesterday, I listened to the song for the first time in years, and was struck by how amazing it still sounded. I also felt like I had been struck in the face with a frying pan. Because when these lyrics hit:
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
I realised how fu**ing little I understood at 16. I’ve been ruminating on ageing for the past few years, reflecting on the accumulation of experience and the tectonic shifting of perspective, but it wasn’t until I listened to ‘Time’ again that things really clicked into place. How little I knew then. How much more I know now. And how little that is compared to what I’ll know in the future. It was one hell of a trip. Those lyrics, that had meant so much to me for so long, now took on a completely different life. They’d gone from vague if potent prophecy to accurate diagnosis.
It’s on that note that we’re gonna dive into an AskReddit thread that explores this very topic, asking (a little bit clumsily) as it does the question: ‘What is the single most ‘you’ll understand it when you’re older’ thing?’ You can check out the full thread here, but below are some highlights:
And I couldn’t really go into this topic without leaving this here now could I:
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