"This Is The Time" was written along with Richard Dashut for Out Of The Cradle. From the context of the song, it would seem that he at least contributed to the lyrics if not the music as well. This would also seem logical since Richard was as much a presence in the chaotic life of Fleetwood Mac as any of the individual members. For the sake of length, this interpretation will generally be only from Lindseyís point of view since he is the actual singer of "This Is The Time".
"This Is The Time" shares the unique honor of being only 1 of 2 songs on Out Of The Cradle with a true instrumental introduction. Like most of the songs on OOTC, this introduction seems to have a definite purpose. Itís a beautiful very classically styled guitar intro. that is very smooth and peaceful but is also quite chaotic at the same time. This duality of feelings in the intro. is mirrored in the song itself, which starts on a brooding and contemplative tone as the introduction fades away and then changes into a much more chaotic form. What strengthens this feeling of duality is the fact that the song is based on a simple two chord pattern which Lindsey is able to extend and build on to create different moods.
We long to see you
Keep our heads down to the track
Did we desert you?
Is the truth ever coming back?
Sanity and honesty -- two qualities which Lindsey seems to sense have escaped him. Two qualities that he feels he needs to find. It seems that Lindsey is unsure of where his life is headed. Heís out of touch and is longing for sanity in his life. He desperately wants to regain the sanity he feels he has lost and is waiting. "Keep our heads down to the track" may mean he is waiting for some kind of sign, just as someone might listen for a coming train by putting their ear to the track. He also feels like he has been lying, either to himself or others, about certain aspects of his life that he realizes must change. He needs to come clean, but he wonders if itís possible to get back to a point in his life where he feels he is once again being honest with others as well as himself.
Whatís more, the dreamy quality of the music and smooth lyrics greatly enhance the meaning of the lyrics -- making them seem like questions posed by the subconscious mind.
Always on the run
Ever so neurotic
Still we have our fun
These lyrics seem to describe the craziness Lindsey feels is going on in his life -- the episodic, neurotic always-on-the-run feel of his life at the time heís writing this song. Maybe heís speaking about a time during the recording of OOTC that seems out of control for him, or maybe itís about an earlier time such as during the recording of Tango In The Night, which is the around the same time "Soul Drifter" was written, or a time even earlier. Itís evident, though, that even though he was feeling out of control and pressured he was still able to have fun.
What also seems to show the 2-sided nature of Lindseyís state of mind at the time is his use of 2 voices on these lyrics. "Slightly episodic" and "ever so neurotic" are both sung with a higher, louder and more distressed sound than the 2nd line of each set. "Always on the run" and "still we have our fun" are both sung quieter, much like the more contemplative-sounding first verse. He seems to vacillate between two voices to give the impression of a dueling subconscious -- almost a good versus evil kind of feel. The music is the same way. The music with the first chorus is flowing and calms with a lot of airy-sounding background noise, fluid guitar, and light cymbals, while the music with this verse is choppy and abrasive with very staccato notes on guitar and drums with no background noise. Lindseyís use of the music to accentuate the lyrics is very pronounced here.
This is the time of the new sign
This is the sign of the new line
Time, this is the time
Time, this is the time
This chorus seems to echo many other sentiments heard on OOTC relating to a big change in his life. He seems to be reaffirming his decisions to leave the band, record his solo album, and basically leave the chaotic world he was living in behind. Heís taking this opportunity to change himself -- to invoke what might be considered a new party line for him -- a new stance on life. Maybe heís made a resolution to himself that he will do everything in his power to change what he feels is wrong with his life at the time.
Revenge and fear
How can we heal you
With our heads down on the block?
Revenge and fear are mentioned here as well as in Surrender The Rain, and the spoken introduction seems to be in the same spirit as "This Is The Time".
Surrender The Rain Spoken Intro
Iíve got to stop this obsession of revenge and fear
Iíve been running from everything that I once held dear
And it feels so cold, it feels like sin
Iíve got to stop this obsession and start living again
He obviously needs and wants to deal with these feelings and move past them. He wants to heal but he feels as if he may not be able to do it himself -- like heís trapped and needs help. "With our heads down on the block" seems to imply that heís being forced or pressured and feels close to the point of the guillotine dropping -- much too close to a point where he wonít be able to come back to that place where he feels free of his fears and revenge is no longer his obsession.
There is no curfew
In the town they call the rock
Maybe heís looking to his family to help him through this situation. Itís obvious that family means a lot to him and regrets not being able to be with them more now and probably in the past. The "curfew in the town they call the rock" may be referring to the life of a rock and roll star in a way - the kind of life he lived while in Fleetwood Mac. Hollywood seems to be the town that never sleeps -- itís always crazy and heís telling everyone what he feels was his downfall -- and probably the downfall of the individual members of Fleetwood Mac.
Ever so hypnotic
Underneath the gun
A little too erotic
How do we get things done?
Once again Lindsey uses two alternating voices and the choppy music here to get his point across. He again refers to the strange nature of his world -- the world that heís trying to escape that is hypnotic and erotic and very pressuring. He seems to wonder how he got anything done in an environment like this and was still able to survive.
What is really interesting about the lyrics to "This Is The Time" is that they may be purposely very simplistic and sparse compared to other songs such as "Street of Dreams" and "Doing What I Can". By being cryptic the lyrics could very easily be interpreted as a statement about the lack of honesty and integrity in society today, and the need to change our ways. In a sense itís a cry for humanity to re-evaluate itself and search for the sanity it has lost over the years. Whatever the real meaning behind these lyrics, only Lindsey and Richard truly know.
(The interpretations to these lyrics were compiled through discussions on the message boards of the Penguin, The Ledge. It is entirely possible that the artists had something completely different in mind.)