Asia keyboard player Geoff Downes and lead singer/bass player John Wetton wrote this song, which finds a man learning that the woman he loved never loved him in return, only using him for her own gain. He walks out on her, refusing to live a lie, and predicting that she will probably have a lonely future, but "only time will tell."
In our interview with John Wetton, he explained that the songs he wrote came from personal experience, and were often very vivid. In this song he's saying, "I know this new guy is not as good as I am, but only time will tell. But you're making a big mistake."
The lyrical kiss-off led some to accuse Wetton of misogyny, but he points out that the song follows a dialogue he started in the song "Heat of the Moment," where he apologizes for past transgressions.
John Wetton was a member of the band Wishbone Ash when he started working on this song. This was toward the end of 1980 when that band was recording their Number the Brave album at Criteria Studios in Miami, and Wetton would stay late after sessions to work up ideas, many of which ended up on the first Asia album. During this time, Wetton's musical hero John Lennon was killed, which made the experience even more vivid.
The video was directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme (Godley & Creme), who also did Asia's video for "Heat of the Moment." Both videos broke up the screen into smaller boxes, with "Only Time Will Tell" showing the band members inside TV sets. A gymnast also shows up throughout the video doing some slow motion tumbling; this didn't make a lot of sense, but did make for an interesting visual, which in 1982 worked very well (first gymnast on MTV!).
Godley & Creme would later direct some of the most acclaimed videos of the era, including "Every Breath You Take" by The Police and "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock.
Dogg from Tulsa, OkThis is a very rich, nicely orchestrated song.
Esskayess from Dallas, TxThe common theme for their debut album was 'time,' while the mediocre follow-up album seemed to have 'eyes' throughout.
Lonewulf from Tampa, FlOld song that resonates a feeling of betrayal. Emotional. But something has always tickled me about the florid line "If you were wrong, the brightest ring around the moon, would darken when I die". Has a lot of imagery, but, what is it supposed to symbolize, if that?? The singer questions if he was right?? Is it a metaphor for a person's eyes and tears for having done wrong?
Inquiring minds have to know... (lol)
Dennis from Pasadena, CaThe lyric in this song at 1:59, "The brightest ring around the moon will darken when I die" is very similar to the lyric, "The brightest ring around the moon will darken as you cry" at 1:47 from the song, Spanish Tide, by Family. John Wetton wrote both lyrics and sang on both songs but did not receive a writing credit for the Family song.
Ellen from Chicago, IlAgruably the best of their very few hits, certainly my favorite.
Jim from Long Beach, CaI loved all the previous bands from Asia.ELP,Yes,King Crimson and The Buggles. I couldn't believe that how commercial they became, I was shocked but yet i loved it!!
Brendan from Cape Town, South AfricaWhat's with the gymnast. It's funny how music videos have changed. This song was used in an episode of "Cold Case"
Ed from Incognito, IlIn my humble, learned opinion they tried real hard to be hard-edged, but they just couldn't quite make it.
Rob from Detroit, Mi"People who like this song also like "Dancing Queen'"?