Saturday, May 1, 1982

Asia “Only Time Will Tell” charted

Only Time Will Tell


Writer(s): Geoff Downes, John Wetton (see lyrics here)

Released: July 1982

First Charted: May 1, 1982

Peak: 17 US, 16 CB, 2 GR, 5 RR, 8 AR, 54 UK, 7 CN, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 7.11 video, 24.58 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The rock supergroup Asia formed in London in 1981. Singer and bassist John Wetton had been in King Crimson; Steve Howe was the guitarist with Yes; keyboardist Geoff Downes had been in Yes and the Buggles; Carl Palmer was the drummer with Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Even with the hype of the members’ pedigrees, their self-titled debut album performed better than anyone expected, spending nine weeks atop the Billboard album chart and going multi-platinum.

The lead single, “Heat of the Moment,” was a top-5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the album-rock chart. The official second single, “Only Time Will Tell,” reached the top 20 on the former chart and the top 10 on the latter. Cash Box called the latter “a multi-layered progressive rock production with a simple, easily flowing melody at its core, thus providing a little something for both the rock and pop fan.” WK

The song is about “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.’” SF Wetton said the song “follows a dialogue he started in the song ‘Heat of the Moment,’ where he apologizes for past transgressions.” SF

Wetton said, “I had been stockpiling songs during the leadup to Asia, and a lot of my lyrics were about personal experience.” WK This one, he said, was “a very personal one about the end of a relationship.” WK He wrote the verse while Downes wrote the chorus (it was the opposite for “Heat of the Moment”).

The video was directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Crème, who also did “Heat of the Moment” and later the Police’s “Every Breath You take” and Herbie Hancock’s “Rock-It.” The video showed the band members on multiple TV screens alongside a gymnast doing slow motion tumbling. It “didn’t make a lot of sense, but did make for an interesting visual.” SF


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First posted 9/9/2022; last updated 12/26/2022.

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