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  • Writer's picturePeter Markes

Behind the Music: "The Thief of Time"

Updated: May 4, 2020

"Procrastination is the thief of time." I don't feel I procrastinate, except when it comes to developing relationships. This initial song title inspiration was further developed when I read Willa Cather's, O Pioneers, a 1913 novel surrounding the harsh realities of life on the midwestern prairie. A key theme surrounds life - how we live our own, how we treat others, and how we respond when those we love are taken "before their time" (that's what we like to call it). Like most of us, I have experienced the loss of young people in my life. Chiefly, my cousin, Lucas, who was 3 months younger, died when we were only 28. My mother-in-law, Marsha, died in 2012. Last summer, we lost my 2-year-old cousin, Jack.

The death of the young, whether from suicide, illness, accident, or any other equal unfairness, has until recently been incredibly difficult for me to accept. Then I read a meditation that reminded me that no one is mine. No matter how much a loving, caring person has helped me believe that we belong to each other, I know instead that everyone belongs to God, only on loan for a while. "Thy will be done" (Matthew 6:10) has become a daily mantra for me. Sometimes I still feel I need or even deserve explanations. In reality, I don't.


Where the waves meet the sand, the present in motion

Then pulled to the deep, tossed around by the ocean

We're asking for more time

But we can't be living and doing the asking

"The present" is that line where a wave rolls over the beach. Unlike the sand and water (the past and future), this line is intangible, constantly moving, and unpredictable. Poignant to me is that we never know how "tossed around" our future will be. "The Thief of Time" might be the worst in each of us, spiting and stealing from ourselves with less meaningful, less love-centric activities. Beyond things we can touch, taste and see, I hope to remember the importance of the experiences we share, "living," not "asking" for more.


  • "We've touched the future, at least I felt its grasp." The "grasp" is that of a baby or child (the future) around my one grown-up finger. In this case, my young cousin, Jack.

  • "These hands are...still praying that they might vindicate our deeds" Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. ~Matthew 11:19

  • "This time is worth something; Day traded, guaranteed" What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.

  • "Learn from disciples; I’ll make mistakes again" Inspiration from the many stories of Peter's impetuous blunders throughout the new testament, and the quote, "Immediately they left their nets and followed him." ~ Matthew 4:20

  • "Right now is worth something. Forget remember when" From Tony Soprano (don't judge), "'Remember when' is the lowest form of conversation."

  • "No matter 'bout the time; the grass will still grow high." From O Pioneers, “I don't know what is to become of us...if father has to die...I wish we could all go with him and let the grass grow back over everything.”

This song was the last to be written for the album and was almost not included. Musical ideas of "time" are represented through steady repeated notes on the piano (end of verse 1), electric guitar (vs. 2), and the use of clock chimes. It continues to be my favorite song, and I hope this "Behind the Music" inspires you as to why.

Thanks for listening, Friends.

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