"Time Out Of Mind"

Edd Cote, GB (2/4/98):  Could "out of mind" be an allusion to "insane"?  This would give us "Time Insane" and then it's not a far stretch to "Rhythmic Insanity."  Brubeck used this type of punning during his metric experimentations ("Unsquare Dance", "Take Five", etc.) and, of course, he shows up in Donald's next release.

Joe Murtha, GB (2/5/97):  I think it's pretty safe to say that Don+Walt are not only "mad about Brubeck", but have applied a good deal of Brubeck's ground work in advanced time signatures to their own material.  Maybe "Time Out" (Of Mind) is their tip of the hat to Brubeck's "Time Out"...

What a crisp and elegant song--"perfection and grace."  Lhasa is in Tibet.  There has been much discussion on the GB about the lyrics, which I'll summarize until I can find it:  "chasing the dragon" is smoking opium;  I've heard it described as lighting a ball of opium, letting the smoke accumulate beneath a glass ("the mystical sphere?"), and then inhaling the collected smoke.  Or it's a ref to shooting up--the clear liquid in the syringe turns "cherry" red when one pulls back to check the location in a vein;  "the silver will turn to gold" when the foil is heated.  Another song with, perhaps, very dark content and transcendent music.

Hideaki: ??The dark side of the moonie.
    I think the song "Time out of mind" is about Tv evangelist who were popular in 70?80's(ex Pat Robertson, Jim & Tammy) and a new religion?!  "Put a dollar in the kitty" means a donation. "Son you better be ready for love On this glory day.This is your chance to believe What I've got to say" sound like a hackneyed phrase used by TV evangelist,I think. "Don't the moon look pretty" make fun of "Moonie", and "the moon" seems to mean "Sun Myung Moon" or "Moonism".
    I think that "Tonight when I chase the dragon The water will change to cherry wine And the silver will turn to gold Time out of mind" tells that alchmy might have given us a lot of knowledge, because the development of science attested to false theory. After all the silver couldnot turn to gold. In the preach they used the future tense"will". If they have had confidence on their preach, they would
have had the present tense, namely "the silver turn to gold."They used the future tense "will" as excuse.
    New religion tries to give us relief, but in vain, it is not a real relief like a drag! Maybe,D fagen wrote this song for W.Becker, and told that insincere preach of TV eveangelist couldnot turn anytihng to gold(a real relief), it seem to chase the dragon????

Slint (10/4/99):  Chasing the dragon is smoking heroin on tin foil. Residue is reheated on a slant and it can turn to liquid and roll down the foil as you "chase" it with the flame.

Mr. LaPage (GB, 6/30/00): ... I too find it hilarious how Fagen is trying to backstroke from the Time Out of Mind lyric thing. It is clearly a song about heroin/opium experimentation....
     Come on. "The mystical steel [ "sphere" actually], direct from Lhasa." "It's the smile on my face." Sure, the songs about metallurgy, and comic reflection!
     Can there be any other meaning to "chasing the dragon' that these guys were alluding to in the lyric? Perhaps they're talking about purchasing false happiness and the terrible price it exacts, but it doesn't follow lyrically.

     Son you better be ready for love
     on this glory day
     This is your chance to believe
     what I've got to say
     Keep your eye on the sky
     put a dollar in the kitty
     don't the moon look pretty

     Sounds to me like the narrator is inticing a young initiate to experience the euphoric heroin high for the first time. His pied piper to paradise. Decscribing the head in sublime brushstrokes.

     "Water to cherry wine, silver to gold"

     You can here his tempting come-on:  "It's wonderful man! It'll change the way you see things. Your problems will all melt away. The revelation'll blow you   away!  You'll taste perfection. Be endowed with lifesaving grace.  And to top it off, I've got the El Supremo stuff, Stygian Black Lotus, direct from the steppes of the Tibetan Himalayas.  Picked by Buddhist monks in their high mountain Shangri-la.
     Don't be fooled people, this is what Fagen & Becker were conveying in this song, their protestations notwithstanding.

F#maj (GB, 6/30/00):  Heraldo Rivera [ha! Jerry Rivers, who once sold encyclopedia door to door or ws it vacuum cleaners? what do you mean you don't have electricity?????] even did a tv special on the fad and used the song under the voice-over. The"voice" of the song is a mere caricature and not necessarily one that has any autobiographic implication/connection [such as Down in the Bottom]. I 'get it' from a literary context as a character in a story [like Deacon Blue], as though we can listen in on the machinations in the affected brain of the user/abuser [who is to say what constitutes abuse?] singing this ode to opium. it was a product of the time... that is all.
    gotta match?

Out Of Mind (10/5/00):  Lots of lyrical analysis posted, but what about the music?  In my humble opinion, this is the finest pop song ever written - from the subtle guitar riffs to the mellow keyboard line to the orchestral horn riffs - containing the most brilliant chord progression (in the bridge) ever played on "Lite Rock" radio stations.  This song just plain has it all.  The fact that the lyrics "fit" so well in the infectious groove makes it easy to overlook their meaning.  Does this have anything to do with a mandate from the record company that there be commercially-accessible music on "Gaucho"?
    As for the lyrics, it's interesting that there are two "pop" songs ("Hey Nineteen" and "Time Out of Mind") on an otherwise "dark" album - the former dealing with a light subject matter and the latter "masking" its true subject matter behind "catchy" music and straightforward drum rhythms (complete with a "clap track" at the end).  It's also worth noting that both of these songs may appeal to the "younger" members of the audience - references to Greek life and roller skating in "Hey Nineteen", and references to "Son...," "Children..." "Rolling in the Snow," and chasing "Dragons" in "Time Out of Mind."  I guess Lewis Carroll and Peter Paul & Mary told childrens' stories also...

Dr. Mu (GB, 3/4/01):  "Time Out of Mind" more than a simple LA Drug Fable or another chapter of Overanalysis    Anonymous???????
     Memory rush over me.

     From a famous 20th Century fantasy novel:

     "The Bagginses have lived in the neighborhood of The Hill for time out of mind., and people
     considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also
     because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected…"

     (pp. 22-23) Song sung by the dwarfs that night luring Bilbo's Tookish side...

     "Far over the misty mountains cold
     To dungeons deep and caverns old
     We must away ere break of day
     To seek the pale enchanted gold…

     …On silver necklaces they strung
     The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
     The dragon fire, in twisted wire
     They meshed the light of moon and sun…"

     Bilbo tricks Gollum out of Sauron’s enchanted Ring, Smaug the Dragon hoards Thor's gold
     in the Lonely Mountain, and…
     Says a thrush to Bard, Lord of Dale as Smaug "lights up the town" (p. 261)

     "’Wait! Wait!’ it said to him. ‘The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as
     he flies and turns above you!’ …The Bard drew his bow-string to his ear. The dragon was
     circling back, flying low, and as he came the moon rose above the eastern shore and
     silvered his great wings…

     The silver will turn to gold indeed…and…

     Bilbo to the Elvenking as he reveals the heart of the mountain... (p. 283)

     "’You may see it!’ said he. ‘It is this!’ and he drew forth the Arkenstone, and threw away
     the wrapping.
     The Elvenking himself, whose eyes were used to things of wonder and beauty, stood up in
     amazement. Even Bard gazed marvelling at it in silence. It was as if a globe had been filled
     with moonlight and hung before them in a net woven in the glint of frosty stars."

     I am holding a mystical sphere…

     The adventure does not end without a price as chief dwarf Thorin Oakenshield is slain and
     King Bard lays the Arkenstone on Thorin’s chest upon burial.

     "The Hobbit" - J.R.R. Tolkien

     Children we have it right here. It pays to read good stuff to the kids…

Dan Fan (6/23/01):  I always thought of this song as a ode to a charlatan or traveling preacher, espousing the riches of believing in his brand of spirituality
but robbing his patrons blind..

    "Son your better be ready for love, on this glory day. (Son = Jesus)
    This is you chance to believe, what I've got to say.
    Keep your eyes on the sky, put a dollar in the kitty. (most important to put money in the kitty)
    Don't the moon look pretty (many religious revivals occur at night)

    "Tonight when I chase the dragon (demons - the imagery of a bible thumping preacher chasing the demons from a persons body always makes me laugh)
    The water may change to cherry wine (cheap cherry wine not the real stuff - I like the "may change" line, not promising anything he can't deliver)
    The silver will turn to gold (silver tongue turns to gold/money)
    Time out of mind. (while spending your time at these revival, you are literally out of your mind/insane with religious fervor)

    "I am holding the mystical stone ("stone" sly pronounced steal as in stealing money from his congregation - the original liner notes reproduced the lyrics and  the word stone is used, not sphere)
    It's direct from Lhasa. (Holy land)
    People are rolling in snow, far from the world we know (Heaven)

    "Children we have it right here (Children meaning his flock)
    It's the light in my eye, It's perfection and grace ("Light" "perfection" and "grace" are all spiritual terms)
    It's the smile on my face."  (his smile sell himself to his flock and is what keeps them coming back)

All the numerous religious references may have a connection to drugs, but I have always thought the song was a variation on "Bodhisattva" but addressing western and not easter religion.

Paige (Experimental GB, 7/3/01):  And what is interesting to me is that the two separate interpretations are not mutually exclusive. Nor do they contradict each other. After all, it has been said that “religion is the opiate of the people.”

MMD (GB, 7/4/01):  "chasing the dragon" refers to the practice of burning [opium] on a piece of tin foil and inhaling the rising smoke, or "the dragon".... The inhaling was usually done through a straw, so one had to keep moving the straw to "chase" the rising smoke, which kind of resembles a Chinese dragon if you think about it.

Anon 3001 (GB, 7/4/01):  "Chasing the dragon" refers to the fact that the burning tar smack/opium will move away from the heat of the lighter, slithering like a snake through the crevices of foil, and the "smoker" then re-positions the lighter to compensate for said movement..."chasing" the dragon with the lighter.

jjflash (GB, 7/4/01):  This from an ex-junker:"chasing" the dragon because the initial rush is never obtained again no matter how potent the shit.... I've always taken the line "Don't the moon look pretty" as a diversion to "Put a dollar in the kitty".You know, let me see your money, now look THAT way.

Paige (GB, 7/5/01):  As I (and others) have implied, there is a clear connection between the two major interpretations of the song. Is it too far a reach to say that Don and Walt recognized the similarities between “drugs” and “religion” and that they intentionally tied the two together in one song? I suppose that I have such great respect for their creativity and intellect that I wouldn’t be surprised if connection were intentional.
    I am not convinced that either interpretation is clearly incorrect. They both fit so well and appear to be so obvious. For me, the words fully support both concepts to the point that it had to be intentional.

Cray Zee (GB, 7/6/01):  I agree that both the drug and religious images are unmistakable, so they must be intentional. I also agree that they're not mutually exclusive. So to come up with a supportable interpretation of what the song is about, you need to harmonize the two.
    I think the song takes to the next level the idea of the drug chemist/dealer as Christ analogy first introduced in Kid Charlemagne. Remember that protagonist of that song, after turning the world around with his particular mix of the diamond and the pearl, is asked: "Did you feel like Jesus?"
    Same or similar analogy in Time Out of Mind. The drug chemist/dealer is Christ (or perhaps a preacher), preaching his religion to a loyal following. I think the image is of Jesus himself. "It's the light in my eyes." "It's perfection and grace." And, of course, Jesus turned water into wine.
    For some people, religion becomes the drug. For others, drugs become the religion.

Sluggo (8/18/01):  TIME OUT OF MIND: The Joy of the Score

    Rather than tear the song apart line by line, sometimes it makes more sense to stand back and look at "the whole forest unit and not just the tree units."
    First, the music:  The buoyant beat and sweet, clean guitar fills are... happy, joyous... clean.  The melody, possibly the Dan's most directly simple and sweet. Nice truckin' groove.  Pure female voices chiming in the refrain.  Note the lack of musical irony in this song, no too-clever twists.
    The words: It seems the narrator has just scored something very wonderful on our behalf (Children, we have it right here).  Could it be some excellent dope of some kind?  Pot, coke, opium?  I don't think the exact type of dope matters here.  Sure, the Lhasa reference could indicate the fragrant Hindu Kush indica from that region... "rolling in the snow," coke..."mystical sphere," opium...etc...
     What is delicately captured here is the joy of the score, the excited revealing of the fresh little baggy of promised good feeling.  These ecstatic moments exist precisely between the unsatisfying feelings of  the "jonesing," and the reality of being "fucked-up."   It's a couple of short-lived manic minutes of anticipation, an instant of "perfection and grace".  Time Out of Mind is a precise snapshot of those gleeful yet vaporous few moments early in the night at the score, when you're clear enough to feel happy, joyous anticipation.  Note a conspicuous lack of lyrical irony and sarcasm (symptoms of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and anger that you find in other Dan work.) Knopfler's super-clean sound and major, un-bluesy tonalities suggest happiness and clarity of mind.
    The title "Countdown to Ecstasy" hints at the Dan's fascination with these particular moments in time, but this song has a sweet poetic funkiness that is more than just an idea but a full musical realization.
    If you are able, try to remember (or imagine if you have never been a "doper") how you felt at 5 AM after boozing, coking and partying all night dragging your burnt out ass across some dive's parking lot. This song is NOT about those weird moments.... This song is a splash of happiness in an often dark body of work. And it's a great, important subject well rendered and rarely addressed.

This blows me away!  Sluggo, by the way, plays with Mo Tucker sometimes, and other times in a band called Half Japanese.  Check them out here.

Truk (12/25/01):  In my opinion, this is a very catchy tune that "celebrates" smoking heroin, as well as possibly shooting heroin.  As I
understand the practice of "chasing the dragon", powdered heroin is placed on either a spoon or a piece of aluminum foil, and is then "cooked" over a flame.  Firstly, this causes the metal crucible to tarnish from silver to gold...

"Tonight when I chase the dragon
  The water will change to cherry wine
  And the silver will turn to gold
  Time out of mind..."

    ...As the heroin is then vaporized or burned (and assuming there's no wind or draft in the room), the resulting smoke (just as with burning incense, or a cigarette burning in an an ashtray) tends to go aloft in a coiled serpentine or "dragon-like" configuration, and the abuser places a straw or other suitably sized tube in one nostril in order to inhale and "chase" the smoke of the burning/vaporizing heroin; hence the term, "chasing the dragon".  Within these lyrics, the line, "...The water will change to cherry wine..."  may merely reference the heightened perceptual sensations that often accompany heroin intoxication, or perhaps they're referring to the eventual tendency of heroin smokers to soon progress to shooting heroin (e.g., "...The water will change to cherry wine..." may refer to subsequent intravenous heroin use, in order to chase a more intense rush, and in which the clear liquid contents of a loaded syringe turn red with blood as the abuser pulls back on the plunger in order to make sure they've entered a vein).

Randy (9/22/02):  I started listening to SD in the late 70's when I purchased Aja in LP form.  I bought it on a whim at a record store and was soon a loyal DanFan.  I have purchased and listened to all subsequent albums/CDs since.  I have to tell you that no other band has ever had this type of effect on me.  It has always been obvious to me that they were communicating something next level via their lyrics that might easily be overlooked (overlistened?).  However, I had only a my college running buddies to bounce ideas off at the time as the Internet wasn't around.
    Well, with graduation from college, the pursuit of the dollar and the gap of time between Gaucho and Nightfly, I got out of practice with deciphering the story(s) contained within.
    As a side note, I have only within the last couple of years gone back and acquired the earlier works.  I am happy to report that I have the same appreciation of those songs as well.
    Back to Gaucho.  I just happened to be nineteen at the time this came out and I felt like the entire album was written for me.  I say that tongue in cheek, but it seemed like every song on that album had some connection to one part of my life or another.  As far as Time Out of Mind is concerned, I can definitely see where all the different postings are coming from, but for me, I can tell you that it is all about drugs and drug usage.
    At the time I was smoking a lot of pot as well as several other no-nos.  So, the title of the song was akin to that night's partying session when we (that night's group) were gonna get loaded up and take literally "time out of mind".  "Chase the Dragon" seemed to me to be innuendo for getting some heroin. (Which I never did, btw).  "Rolling in the Snow" refering to cocaine, etc.

Visit another of Edd's illustrious deconstructions
               "Elmer Gantry," with Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons, 1960.

"My Rival"