Dream Theater Wiki
Only a Matter of Time
When Dream and Day Unite
Length 6:37
Working title
Release date March 6th, 1989
Lyrics Kevin Moore
Music Dream Theater
First live performance
Total live plays
Recorded Kajem/Victory Studios
Other appearances When Dream and Day Unite Demos, When Dream and Day Reunite, Live at Budokan
Previous song The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun
Next song Images and Words (album)

Only a Matter of Time is a song by Dream Theater. It is the eighth and final song on their first album, When Dream and Day Unite.



A suited man smiled said:
"It's just a matter of time
You can have the world at your feet by tomorrow
just sign on this line."
Hold tight... limelight!
Approaching the paramount
with the sun in our eyes
fearing family ties, legalies, compromise

In a dimly lit room with a stool as hisstage
A dream-stricken prince of a pauper's descent
Haunts the eavesdropping silence
That presses his window
As he sweats a performance
to an audience that ticks on the wall

To the practical observer
It's just a matter of time
"You can deviate from the commonplace
only to fall back in line."
I understand mine's a risky plan
and your system can't miss
But is security after all a cause
or symptom of happiness?

Brave, yet afraid, his eyes on horizon
in a steady-set gaze
a mariner soon from an open cocoon
takes a moment to summon his courage
to stifle his grave apprehension and
trembling, approaches the surf
A father's benediction as his hopeful son departs
to brave the sea of rage and conquer at all costs

Lingers in his memory
and visions still surviving in a logic-proof shell
that should have been held sacred, safe and hidden well
are compromised in usury
with every rising sun that yields no sight of land
the hesitation cultivates within the tired man
and rumors spread of mutiny
and though the time will come when dream and day unite
tonight the only consolation causing him to fight
is fearless faith in destiny

Even when plans fall to pieces
I can still find the courage
with promise I've found in my faith

Likely or not, it's a dream that we keep
and at odds with our senses we'll climb
But if faith is the answer, we're already
reached it
And if spirit's a sign
then it's only a matter of time


Only a Matter of Time is a narrative that uses both literal and metaphorical means to tell the story. The first half of the song is largely literal while the second half largely uses metaphors. The song is about a new talent entering the music industry and being confronted with its commercialistic nature which contrasts his artistic nature.


Only a Matter of Time is quite progressive and heavy, as most of the songs on the album are. The song is quite fast, particularly the vocal parts of the second half.


The song is notable for the line "and though the time will come when dream and day unite tonight the only consolation causing him to fight is fearless faith in destiny" which the album's title is derived from.

Live Performances[]

Only a Matter of Time is somewhat more commonly performed than some of the songs on the album, though not as much as Ytse Jam, Afterlife and A Fortune in Lies. Live performances are fairly standard, though occasionally with some variation to the instrumental sections near the end. One variation that was popular in the band's early years is to transition the instrumental section into the instrumental section from March of the Tyrant.