Neha Patil (Editor)

Time Is on My Side

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October 3, 1963 (US)

Norman Meade

Verve VK 10307

Creed Taylor

"Time Is on My Side" is a song written by Jerry Ragovoy (under the pseudonym of Norman Meade). First recorded by jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his Orchestra in 1963, it was covered (with additional lyrics by Jimmy Norman) by both soul singer Irma Thomas and the Rolling Stones in 1964.



Winding session arranger Garry Sherman contacted friend and colleague Ragovoy after Kai had expressed an interest in going in a more commercial and rhythmic direction (in gratitude for the gig Ragovoy granted Sherman 50% of the publishing rights, which he kept until an expensive divorce in 1983). But Ragovoy had thought of no lyrics for the song other than "time is on my side". Produced by Creed Taylor and engineered by Phil Ramone, and including background vocals by Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, the recording was released on the Verve Records label in October 1963.

In early 1964 Irma Thomas recorded a R&B cover of the song as the B-side for her single "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)", released on Imperial Records. Songwriter Jimmy Norman was enlisted by the arranger H. B. Barnum to create some more lyrics for the song, which at that time consisted only of the words "Time is on my side" and "You'll come runnin' back." He managed to finish moments before Thomas entered the studio to record it. Produced by Eddie Ray, Thomas' version of "Time Is on My Side" provided the inspiration for the title of her 1996 greatest hits release Time Is on My Side.

Rolling Stones version

The Rolling Stones recorded two versions of the song in 1964. The first version (a looser arrangement featuring a briefer, organ-only intro), recorded in London in June 1964, was released in the US in 1964, as a single from their album 12 X 5. The second version (more tightly arranged and featuring guitar in the intro), recorded in Chicago on November 8, 1964, was released in the UK on January 15, 1965 on The Rolling Stones No. 2. This is the version that receives airplay and appears on most "best of" compilations. Both versions incorporate elements of Irma Thomas's recording, including spoken-word interjections in the chorus, a monologue in the middle of the song, and distinctive lead guitar.

The US version was released on September 26, 1964 as a single (a month after Thomas's cover) and peaked at number six on the US Billboard Pop Singles Chart to become the Rolling Stones' first top ten hit in the US (their previous single, "It's All Over Now", had only peaked at number 26).

A live version of the song from the band's 1982 live album, Still Life, reached number 62 in the UK Singles Chart.


  • Mick Jagger – lead vocals, tambourine
  • Keith Richards – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Brian Jones – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
  • Bill Wyman – bass, backing vocals
  • Charlie Watts – drums
  • Ian Stewart – organ
  • Other covers

    "Time Is on My Side" has since been covered by artists such as Indexi, Michael Bolton, Cat Power, Hattie Littles, Blondie, Wilson Pickett, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, the O'Jays, the Pretty Things, Lorraine Ellison, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Kim Wilson, Tracy Nelson, Patti Smith, Andrés Calamaro (for his "El Salmón", a CD with 103 songs), the Moody Blues (in 1965 and on the 1985 re-release of The Magnificent Moodies).

    Pop singer and pianist Vanessa Carlton recorded a version of the song for a Time Warner digital video recorders commercial, which also served as promotion for her second album, Harmonium (2004), and received heavy rotation on US television during early 2005. The newspaper Metroland reviewed her rendition of the song negatively, and wrote, "we tend to think time is most definitely not on her side — how else to explain the near-universal apathy to the release of her second album, Harmonium?" Harmonium was not re-issued to include the song.

    In 2004, Jimmy Norman, who wrote the lyrics to "Time is on My Side" but whose name was eventually removed from credits, recorded it for the first time as the last track on his album Little Pieces.

    In 2007, British soul singer Beverley Knight recorded a version of the song featuring Ronnie Wood for her fifth studio album, Music City Soul.

    In film and television

    In the 1998 supernatural thriller Fallen (which is the only Turner Pictures's R-rated production), starring Denzel Washington, the Stones version (with the guitar intro) is used often in the movie to depict when a character's body has been infiltrated by the demon/fallen angel named Azazel. Various characters throughout the film sing the song (including actors James Gandolfini and John Goodman), and the song is featured in the opening scenes and well as the final one.

    It is the title for a season three episode of Supernatural.

    The Irma Thomas version is played at the end of the Sopranos season two premiere episode, "Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist's Office..."

    In 2012, wrestler Bray Wyatt began singing the chorus line of the song to finish his promos.

    Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Dave Bartholomew and other New Orleans musicians perform the song in the final episode of season one of the HBO TV series Treme with the show's fictional trombone player Antoine Batiste played by Wendell Pierce.

    In the 1989 film Shocker, the antagonist Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi) sings the opening line before he is executed in reference to foreshadowing to his soon-to-be apparent immortality.


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