There were moments of dreams I was offered to save
I live less like a workhorse, more like a slave
I thought that one quick moment that was noble or brave
Would be worth the most of my life.

So I pointed my fingers, and shout a few quotes I knew
As if something that's written should be taken as true
But every path I have taken and conclusion I drew
Would put truth back under the knife.

And now the only piece of advice that continues to help:
Is anyone that's making anything new only breaks something else.

When my time comes,
Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.
When my times comes,
Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.

So I took what I wanted and put it out of my reach
I wanted to pay for my successes with all my defeats,
And if heaven was all that was promised to me
Why don't I pray for death?
And now it seems like the unraveling has started too soon,
Now I'm sleeping in hallways and I'm drinking perfume
And I'm speaking to mirrors and I'm howling at moons
While the worse and the worse that it gets.

Oh you can judge all the world on the sparkle that you think it lacks.
Yes you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back.

When my time comes,
Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.
When my time comes,
Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.

Oh you can judge all the world on the sparkle that you think it lacks.
Yes you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back.

When my time comes,
Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.
When my time comes,
Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.


Lyrics submitted by blueisthecolor8, edited by rathyrye

When My Time Comes song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +3
    General Commentanthem! great song. i heard they wrote about it on their lack of life experience being so young and how that means they don't have much to sing about, so this is kinda looking into the future from that frame of mind.

    i like it so much because it's just comforting. i don't think anyone in life is ever satisfied with their current situation, and this song just expresses that feeling perfectly.
    livinon August 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song is somewhat about death but really it is a commentary on what logical people deal with when they comtemplate religion.

    The author starts to realize that he has been mislead into believing in religion and possibly God, and has been wasting much of his life doing and believing what he was told instead of what you want to be doing.

    "As if something that's written should be taken as true" is a reference to the Bible. People take everything within the Bible literally, even though many of the stories were intended to be a model to teach people how to be good, not necessarily a history textbook.

    The reference to Heaven poses a question - if heaven is all that the Church can promise to its followers, why not just die now so we can go there? hence "Pray for death"

    "My time" is probably a reference to death or one's "Judgement Day". Is this a real thing, he asks? If Heaven exists and there is a gate with Peter deciding who gets in and who goes to hell, Will he be judged differently if he strays from the path set forth for him by his religion? Or perhaps is straying part of his intended path?

    "Pay for my successes with all my defeats" relates to atonement / karma, and "took what i wanted and put it out of my reach" is a form of asceticism, a religious practice.

    "Staring into the abyss" and seeing something that isn't there is definitely a comment on Faith and religion - Faith is the belief that something does exist even though it is impossible to know for sure whether it actually exists. If you look hard enough for order in chaos, if you look hard enough for God in the world and universe, you will probably find it. But just because you think you see order in the chaos, that doesn't make it true.

    "But every path I have taken and conclusion I drew / Would put truth back under the knife." This is what a lot of intelligent people wrestle with about religion - Science and Truth tend to disprove the tenents of Faith and God and the stories of the Bible. When the writer of this song thinks about God or blind faith, it doesn't make sense. Faith is illogical. Religion tries to disprove science, and science tries to disprove religion.

    I think the lyrics are about a person who has lost religion, or is at least doubting what he was raised/brainwashed to believe. He wonders if God is real, if he will ever find out if it is real, and struggles with internal conflicts related to "believing" vs. "not believing".
    meowzaon October 20, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTake a look at the video for this song. It has striking similarities to the film "Cool Hand Luke," which starred Paul Newman. In both the music video and the film, we see men working on a chain gang, a prison guard with bright sunglasses, a poker game, and an egg-eating contest. I think the connection to the film means that the song is about good and evil.

    Something else I noticed is these lines:

    "So I took what I wanted and put it out of my reach
    I wanted to pay for my successes with all my defeats,"

    They seem to correlate with notions of Buddhism - that we need to kill desire through self-denial and that we have karmic debt that we pay for with good deeds.
    ajalee1on December 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just heard this song on The Late Late Show (Craig Ferguson). I like how they incorporated the Nietzsche quote... "When you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss stares back at you."
    besstudoron April 15, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionCORRECTION: In the 3rd line, it should be "noble or BRAVE" (not "noble or brace")
    meowzaon October 20, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThere were moments of dreams I was offered to save
    I live less like a workhorse, more like a slave
    I thought that one quick moment that was noble or brace
    Would be worth the most of my life.

    At first the subject of the song speaks about a great event he sees coming in his life. His chance to be a hero and "save" something But he discovers that he does not end up being a workhorse because being a workhorse comes with a reward and he discovers that he is enslaved by the very idea of this dream to be a hero. This dream to be a savior and be significant. He thinks that he is living his life for "one quick moment" that's off in the future and will last him forever. This reminds me of Emily Dickinson when she says "forever is composed of nows". I think it's an allusion to the Dream that we are all pursuing the future. We are all suffering (enslaved) through our nows so that the 'moment of defining' or our "coming of age" story will be great and spectacular but in reality we're constantly living in the future which inhibits our ability to take action NOW.

    So I pointed my fingers, and shout a few quotes I knew
    As if something that's written should be taken as true
    But every path I have taken and conclusion I drew
    Would put truth back under the knife.

    The second stanza seems to be the character's reconciliation with the fact that people have gone through what he has before. I don't see this as a Biblical or religious allusion but rather a more overarching philosophical allusion. I think it's the idea that every religious, spiritual, or philosophical path you use to make sense of the world has its own shortcoming. You can shout all the things that people have said before but in the end they were humans just like you and when you go down these roads long enough you'll want to question these things and really try and understand if they are true for you.

    And now the only piece of advice that continues to help:
    Is anyone that's making anything new only breaks something else.

    When my time comes,
    Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.
    When my times comes,
    Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.

    I think that the narrator feels hopeless about the fact that he doesn't know what's true and so the only thing that helps him is the fact that bringing in his own viewpoint of it all will at the very least break down old stigmas and tired sayings. The chorus feels like that voice inside our head that sees the future as something better than our "now"(recurring theme). It feels like at first he wants to make a bold new statement of his own so he starts off "when my time comes" but in reality he's just crushed that he can't make sense of it, so he passes off a few oh's as if to say "I'm still trying to figure that part out, man."

    So I took what I wanted and put it out of my reach
    I wanted to pay for my successes with all my defeats,
    And if heaven was all that was promised to me
    Why don't I pray for death?
    And now it seems like the unraveling has started too soon,
    Now I'm sleeping in hallways and I'm drinking perfume
    And I'm speaking to mirrors and I'm howling at moons
    While the worst and the worst that it gets.

    So the narrator goes about his new task of finding out what he'll do when his time comes. He decides that since he lives a life that has forced him to suffer he will now willingly suffer for it by taking what he wants and putting it out of reach. He begs the question why we don't just pray for death if something better is ahead of us. This is a question he asks because the notion of it detracts from being able to live in the "now". If we can't live in the now why don't we pray for it to come? Then it feels like things start to get away from him and everything happens too fast. He's become out of place by sleeping outside of bedrooms and drinking something (presumably for internal resolution or beauty) that's supposed to be meant for external beauty. And he's talking to himself in the mirror because he has gone down this path alone and has only himself to talk too, and he's howling at moons because he has become alone and isolated like a werewolf. He feels cursed and outcast. All at the same time things are just getting worse and he's had no new epiphany.

    Oh you can judge all the world on the sparkle that you think it lacks.
    Yes you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back.

    Then he says that you can go do what I did and criticize this world for what it didn't have and you can stare at the "abyss" of the world, but all it does is stare right back at you unchanging in it's ways.

    Then back to the chorus. Back to the idea that he's still lost throughout all this change. He still doesn't know how to fix it so he keeps singin about this unclear yet better future.

    I think this song is about growing up and how we all forlornly escape the present to the future. We have a very structured world with governments, and religions, and ideologies and at first we think that those things will grant us an opportunity to be great. Then we start looking
    at all the bad things or "side-effects" so to speak in the world and make out our own way towards self-discovery and greatness. And it all results in the futile efforts of finding meaning. So we keep singing about how the future will be better if only to escape the reality that we don't know how that will happen.

    The idea of this song is something commonly expressed in books, movies, tv, songs and all types of art but Dawes does it in an incredibly moving and almost heart-wrenching way. Great song. I really dig it. Hope this helped.
    iamseamuson December 30, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't know if I just want to think this as a happy song rather than a sad one, but does "when my time comes " have to refer to death? Could it maybe mean that throughout the song he is talking about how much he doesn't like his life and he is hoping that he will soon get out of it and in a way conquer all the bad things and turn it around? "When my time comes" to me is kind of the day will come when I will break free of this life and start a different one.
    theworldsmileson June 04, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think is about a hero, not so much about death.
    I don't think it has anything to do with religion.
    It's about that hero who you love so much that is always saving the day yet never seems to have a happy ending for themself. A selfless hero wanting to have that happy ending, but can't even allow themself to be selfish enough to force their happy ending even though they just might be able to.
    I think the "when my time comes" is the hero wanting to just be done saving or doing anything and wanting that time of nothing. This hero can't be happy, but they aren't exactly unhappy so they are just waiting for their time to be done.
    It's a very zen hero. They know they save and they know their life isn't about their own happiness, but rather about helping others.
    imwayelecton November 20, 2012   Link

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