Eighteen days before the 2009 Grand Finale of American Idol, David Cook's older brother Adam succumbed to brain cancer. Though This Loud Morning never explicitly references his brother's death, it does give certain songs a deeper meaning. This song finishes with Cook sighing, "Time marches on without you" as a funereal vocal arrangement takes over.
Cook wanted This Loud Morning to have a loose theme running though it, which described the gestation cycle of a relationship. He told Billboard magazine: "To me, 'Time Marches On' is the tipping point of the album. Up until that point, I think every song had been about the hopeful side of love and life and all that, and 'Time Marches On' is that tipping point where you move to the next stage of grief where all of a sudden it's like, 'OK, no matter what happens, the clock's gonna keep moving and we all have a finite amount of time.'"