Time of My Life [Lupercalia] [Dir. Patrick Wolf & William Charles Pollock]
‘Time of My Life’ (lyrics) (although, the pre-chorus is actually “find my muscle”, not “my soul” [/pedant]) is one of two songs from the Battle Megamix that were originally slated to appear on The Conqueror, but by the time it was released as the first single in early November 2010, Patrick had already scrapped the album’s title (and, as it turned out, much of the material) and had yet to decide the name under which it would emerge.
To be honest, ‘Time of My Life’ always felt like an odd song to hold back for The Conqueror. The twenty seconds or so we heard of ‘Together’ back in 2008 were a natural fit for an album about rediscovering love after a period of isolation. ‘Time of My Life’ was less so. What we had heard was a bit of a downer, with a beat sounding like looped guitar, with a pounding beat and industrial fuzz, and Patrick belting insistently and repeatedly, “I will be happy without you!”. This original version was performed in April of 2008 and was described by Patrick as “where my story starts.” Over top of the “happy without you” vocal loop, Patrick begins the song by sneering, “Thanks for the worst time of my life / Time of my life / Time of my life.” The vocals are filled with venom and bite, and his perseverance to be happy is more spiteful than anything else. It’s an ugly sentiment, but it’s visceral and truthful, and would have opened The Bachelor perfectly.
The version we got in November 2010 might not be what I spent two years eagerly anticipating, but it’s the one that belongs on the mature, contented Lupercalia. The strings are glorious, walking the line between joyful and bittersweet, the sporadic handclaps keep the production spontaneous, and the vocals no longer sound angry, simply regretful and accepting. Despite this, he’s barely changed a thing lyrically, besides the bridge. In the new version, Patrick is calm and composed, but just barely:
Beat go on
Heart be strong
As we divide
Thanks for the time
Time of my life
He’s removed “worst” from his final declaration, repeating “time” to fill the extra syllable. But more importantly, he’s utterly sincere. He’s upset and barely holding it together, but he’s genuinely grateful for the time they shared. That Patrick can so profoundly alter the meaning of a song by removing a single word and tinkering with the arrangement is a testament to his skill. And much like other songs he’s adapted over time, neither version is better. Just different.
The video is a simple affair - a stop motion clip with a cut-out clock that spells ‘TIME OF MY LIFE’ and and occasional detour into the lyrics ‘Happy Without You’, but it was made by Patrick and his boyfriend (now fiancé) William in their kitchen for £4.00, which is just too charming to not mention.