The “Mister E” of Time Travel: Music and Tropes

Mister E by Cortney Matx on the Mystery album

Time travel and music

Time travel books and movies have given me a lot of entertainment. But thanks to a heads-up from Cortney Matz I realise that I’ve been missing out on time travel in music.

Brian May Astrophysicist and songwriter
Brian May (Image credit: Max Alexander – Science Photo Library)

I think this is because I generally do other things at the same time as listening to music. Queen’s ’39 passed me by as a song about time dilation because I wasn’t listening to the lyrics whilst I was reading a time travel book! 😉 (thanks again to Jennifer Macaire for bringing ’39 to my attention!

“For so many years have gone though I’m older but a year.” – Brian May, songwriter (and astrophysicist!)

So when Cortney asked me whether it was intentional that I haven’t written anything about music (it’s not intentional) and whether I’d like to write about her new song Mister E (yes please!) I figured that checking out the lyrics first would be a good start!

“Mister E” by Cortney Matz

First off – an understanding of astrophysics isn’t required to understand the lyrics! 🙂

Cortney Matz
Cortney Matz

Mister E is the character in the (phonetic) title track song, Mister E. To use Cortney’s words, “Mister E is a time traveler who hasn’t built his time machine yet, and as you can imagine it creates some challenges for we who are waiting around for it.”

A sample of the song Mister E (and the other tracks on the album, “Mystery”) is available on the links on Cortney’s website (Mister E is track number 10).


Mister E could be the sound track to one of the most powerful images I have from time travel novels; where an elderly Clare awaits her time traveling husband’s final visit to her in Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.

The scene resonates with me because of the inevitability of the event, much like the lightning strike in Back to the Future which is needed to power the DeLorean time machine back to the future. Clare needs her final moment with her husband, and in a similar vein, the singer needs her time with time travelling Mister E. Mister E just needs to get his time machine built!

The Standard Story and the Time Travel Trope

Another reason why these images stay with me is because they buck the trend of the traditional (time travel) story:

Boy/girl meets girl/boy and they live happily ever after. It’s fine for the boy(s)/girl(s) involved, but it’s boring for the rest of us, so we throw in a difficulty that needs to be overcome to keep us reading, watching, or listening.

Cue the time machine.

Someone travels in time and falls in love. But cultures from differing time periods clash, or dinosaurs or killer AI robots make life tricky for the love-smitten heroes and heroines. Thankfully love conquers all and the couple live happily ever after – or (n)ever before 😉

Shrek isn't living happily ever after
Shrek isn’t living happily ever after.

Admittedly Shrek does it the other way around – he isn’t happy living happily ever after and trades away a day of his life in Shrek Forever After. Idiot!

These stories are usually told from the time traveller’s point of view, presumably because we can share in their sense of confusion and / or adventure as they encounter a new temporal culture.

The Variation

Leopold in his future with Kate
Leopold in his future with Kate

The list of such books and movies is numerous, though there are exceptions. One such movie is Kate and Leopold (Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman – aka Wolverine in the X-men franchise) which is told from the viewpoint of the character (Kate; 2001) to whom the time traveler (Leopold; 1876) travels.

(Note that Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine ‘later’ makes a time travel trip in time in X-Men: Days of Future Past – see my review on Time Travel Nexus.)

And I should point out that there’s a strong back story in Back to the Future where main character Marty does everything he can to ensure that there isn’t a cross-temporal romance!

The Power in Change

Mister E has all of this – or none of it! It’s written from the non-time traveller’s point of view, there’s no cheesy clinch point, and there’s a sense of destiny. Mystery too, of course – will Mister E build his time machine? Will he come back and feel the same way? Will he live up to expectations?

And what of others’ expectations?

“Let’s show the neighbours just how dumb they were to doubt you” – Cortney Matz

Seems that the neighbours don’t hold much hope. What about you?

Watch a live playing here:

Mister E, written and performed by Cortney Matz 2020

I know that genius can’t be bound up in deadlines
Still I hope you know I’m waiting
With bated breath, with open eyes
Watching sea and sky
And soon everything will be revealed
When you build your time machine, come get me
Let’s go everywhere we’ve been and haven’t seen
I’ve been waiting for you here
Don’t delay, my mister
Mister E

I haven’t met you yet but you know who you are
Mastermind of our adventures
What a time we’ll have
What a life we’ll live together, whatever the weather
When you’re here, the hours disappear
When you build your time machine, come get me
Let’s go searching for the one thing we haven’t done yet
I’ve been waiting for you here
Don’t delay, my mister
Mister E

All the places we have gone
All the things that we have done
All the people we have known
Only when you build your time machine
So build your time machine
When you build that time machine, come get me
Let’s show the neighbors just how dumb they were to doubt you
And I – I don’t care if it takes years
I’ll be here, my mister
Mister E
My Mister E

Mister E is a mystery Cortney Matz time travel
Mystery Album cover (Cortney Matz). Mister E is the title track of Cortney’s album of “haunting piano music from the heart.”

You can listen to the entire Mystery album on itunes and Amazon.

And finally, if your appetite has been whetted for time travel, waiting or simply keeping track of time, why not have a look at Cortney’s calendar with 12 original works of art inspired by the MYSTERY album by Cortney Matz.

More about Cortney

Cortney Matz is a piano-playing singer/songwriter in Los Angeles. She is active in the Hollywood music scene, and has been hosting gatherings for musicians and other artists since 2016. You can get in touch with Cortney via these links:

Facebook: @cortneymatzmusic
Instagram: @cortneymatz
YouTube: @cortneymatz


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1 Comment

  1. I’m writing a novel on time travel, and I include many time related songs. It goes from Take Me Back and Got to Go Back by Van Morrison to “Love Me Twice” by the Doors (which actually has a double meaning if you get my point), Somewhere in Time (John Barry). Ok maybe they’re not literally about time travel, but they imply going back in time. I also love the dog movie Fluke which is more about reincarnation, but it’s also about memories.

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