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Time Is On My Side

by

The Rolling Stones



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song was originally recorded by the Jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his Orchestra on the Verve Records label in October 1963. His version was mostly instrumental with just the lyric "time is on my side" sung by the background trio of Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick.

The first fully vocal version was recorded by the New Orleans Soul singer Irma Thomas. Her version was released as the B-side of "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)" in June, 1964. The Rolling Stones released their version of the song in the US on September 26, 1964, and it became their first Top 10 hit in America. Thomas' version contains a spoken part in the middle that the Stones left out.
The lyrics were most likely written by Jimmy Norman, who was a member of The Coasters. The songwriting credit is unclear, and usually lists Jerry Ragovoy, who wrote "Piece Of My Heart" and "Try" for Janis Joplin, as the only writer, sometimes as "Norman Meade," which he used as a pseudonym. Thomas' original single lists the credit as "J. Norman - N. Meade." Ragovoy, who also produced the song for Thomas, died in 2011 at age 80. (thanks, Dave - Greenville, SC)
Keith Richards said of this song: "In America we were basically known for heavy, slowish kind of ballads. Time Is On My Side, Tell Me, Heart of Stone, that was what we were known for. Strangely enough that was our thing. Every single was a slow song. Who would believe it? You'd think they'd be clamoring for out-and-out rock and roll, but no, it was the Soul ballads that happened for us in America." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
This was one of two songs The Stones performed in 1964 on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance. The other was "Around And Around." Sullivan was shocked by their looks and promised to never have them back. He ended up inviting them back several times.
The Rolling Stones released two versions of this song. The US single was recorded in England and is slower, with a gospel organ. The British version was recorded at Chess studios in Chicago.
This song played a key role in the suspense thriller Fallen with Denzel Washington and John Goodman. (thanks, John - Woburn, MA)
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Comments (14):

Kai Winding and Irma Thomas versions send chills down your spine, where has that music gone? Youtube them.
- jojo, Baton Rouge, LA
My dog said he wrote this song with his band :')
- Lucas, Heerlen, Netherlands
Has anybody heard of the band from Chester called The Jade 5? A backing group around in the 60's apparently.
- matt, Elgin, United Kingdom
My dad said he wrote this song with his band The Jade 5.
- matt, Elgin, United Kingdom
Irma Thomas had a great version of this song. Supposedly, she stopped doing this song because she was unhappy that the Rolling Stones even used the same arrangement.
- George, Redlands, CA
There are two verisons of the song. The first one was the organ verison that reminds me of a vacant Victorian Manison on 510 E.N. Broadway that was vacant from 1961 till it was torn down in 1966. I recalled the organ verison playing on my local rock & roll station & later the gituar verison would be played and take over the organ verison. I was 9 when the organ verison of "Time Is On My Side" By The Rolling Stones. The opening with the organ playing reminds me of a dream I had where I went to school at night and came home early & when I rode home in the bus, in the early morning the street lights turned off and the song would be played and met some old friends that lived during the 1964-65 School year & got bit by a small gator & woke up sick & stayed home from school but not from The 1964 Edition of Trick & Treat. There is one radio station that plays oldies and plays the gituar verison of "Time Is On My Side" until October and the early part of November & plays the organ spooky verison of the Stones' cover song. I got both verisons in my CD collection. My personal favorite verison of The song "Time Is On My Side" is the organ verison by The Rolling Stones.
Marcus Brainard, Columbus, Ohio
- Marcus, Columbus, OH
The vocal group on the 1963 Kai Winding original might well be The Gospelaires (Dionne Warwick, DeeDee Warwick and Cissy Houston). For the Irma Thomas cover the next year, some lyrics were added. It would make sense that Jimmy Norman wrote these, but why then does he credit only Jerry Ragovoy (aka Norman Meade) and not himself on his 2004 CD 'Little Pieces' ?
- walter, Antwerp, Belgium
This recording of the song is pretty good, but Irma Thomas's original (not the one available now) was 10 times better.
- Mike, Berkeley, CA
I prefer the Irma Thomas version (from 1964) much better than the Rolling Stones version. The Irma Thomas version has a strong gospel style.
- Z, Montreal, Canada
in the denzel washington film Fallen the antichrist mentioned by jed from somersets true name is Azazel
- matt, newport, Wales
Jimmy Norman wrote the lyrics to this song and just happend to play a very sweet version of it not to long ago on N.P.R.
- Dave, Greenville, SC
Ian Stewart(1938-1985)played in this song the organ.
- simon, Brno, Czech Republic
The song was used as a very important part of the Denzil Washington film "Fallen". It was the song the condemned man sang to the detective as he shook his hand before he went to the electric chair and was to recur throughout the film as the Anti-Christ was passed on.
- Jed, Somerset. UK, England
It was actually Kai Winding who recorded the song first, prior to Irma Thomas, in 1963 on Verve Records. The label notes a Vocal Group (un-named). Very much soul oriented.
- Fred, Summit, NE
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