John Wetton’s complex relationship with a signature Asia tune: ‘American guys went: Yes!’

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“My Own Time” wasn’t the big hit from Asia’s sophomore effort Alpha, released on July 26, 1983. (That was the Top 10 finisher “Don’t Cry,” with its Indiana Jones-styled video.) Still, this memorable deep cut — with its tough-guy subtitle “I’ll Do What I Want” — strikes the deeper chord, in particular with anyone who has suffered through romantic entanglements.

Today, John Wetton calls it “one of the most identifiable Asia songs” in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “The chorus is: ‘I’m going to do what I want, and I’m going to do it when I fucking want to,'” Wetton adds, with a laugh. “Two million American guys went: ‘Yes!'”

Yet Wetton, who has found himself on a far more positive tack of late, doesn’t necessarily relate to the themes found on Asia’s “My Own Time” anymore.

“People still say to me, ‘That’s the greatest song you ever wrote,'” John Wetton tells us. “I go, ‘Shit, it was really, really bitter.’ Unfortunately, with Asia’s first records, there was a lot of bitterness in there. I was writing about stuff that had gone wrong romantically. Of course, there’s a lot of people who identify with that – vis-a-vis, Adele. She’s sitting in her little room, writing these venomous songs about this ghastly boyfriend who has really pissed all over her. Everybody goes: ‘Yes!’ (Laughs.) That’s what they did with Asia.”

Like all but one track on this album, “My Own Time” was written by John Wetton and Geoff Downes — who were in ascension as principal collaborators as the soon-to-depart Steve Howe contributed only a B-side composition for the single “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.” Alpha eventually went platinum, but that was ultimately seen as a disappointment after Asia’s four million-selling self-titled debut.

“The second album was pretty respectable, and we had some great songs on that album,” Downes tells us in a separate Something Else! Sitdown, “but their expectations were such that when it didn’t quite achieve at the same level, it felt like a let down.”

The flinty, well-constructed “My Own Time,” however, tells a different story. And, in their own time, Asia’s original lineup would find their way back to each other, mounting a well-received 2006 reunion.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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