Time Passages

Album: Time Passages (1978)
Charted: 7
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Songfacts®:

  • Al Stewart didn't like this song. Here's what he said in an interview with acousticstorm.com: "I'll tell you a funny story. I have never really cared for that song I know it was a big hit and all that. It was just one of those things where the record company asked me to write something that sounded like "Year Of The Cat" and we ended up doing that. But I didn't realize truly how bad a song it was until one day I was in an elevator and I was listening to what I thought was Muzak. About 30 seconds went by, and I finally began to recognize it and said to myself, 'This sounds pretty horrible.' Then, horror of horrors, I heard my voice come on, it actually was the record. So I'm thinking, 'Oh my God what have I done, this is terrible!' Hopefully in the last 25 years I've redeemed myself with other things, but "Time Passages" has just never thrilled me." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeffrey - Hilversum, Netherlands and acousticstorm.com
  • Stewart wrote this with the guitarist Peter White, who started touring as a member of Stewart's band in 1975 and collaborated with him for the next 20 years. In June 2010, Peter told us: "Al and I wrote this song together in 1977. I had come up with the electric piano riff which starts the song and together we put together the verse and the chorus, based on that recurring riff. There was no attempt or even conversation about writing anything similar to 'Year Of The Cat' which Al wrote with Peter Wood. The words and melody were mostly from Al and the musical bed and instrumental breaks were mostly my ideas and even if Al says he doesn't like the song, he has been playing it onstage consistently for the last 32 years! As soon as we added the saxophone in the studio there were obvious comparisons to YOTC. (The saxophonist was Phil Kenzie, who had also played the stellar solo on YOTC). But to say that the song was written to satisfy the record company - that was an issue that never even came up! And yes I'm very proud of this song, which still gets radio airplay every day!" (Learn more about Peter at www.peterwhite.com.)

Comments: 30

  • Louis Cancilla from New JerseyWhen I hear Year of the Cat and Time Passages, it takes me to my youth back in the military in Germany. Such beautiful music. Long may you Run Al.
  • John Boutet from Buffalo, NyOne of my favorite songs of all time. It's a feel good song with a wonderful set of lyrics and a fantastic hook line of "Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight". The sax is magnificent and from what I've read holds the record for the highest note ever hit on a Billboard chart song.
  • Jerome from PaTo me Al is talking about day dreaming and then snapping out of it. You know how you're just sitting there and all of a sudden a scene from your past pops into your head? Time passages.
  • Anonymous from Anywhere But Down this song to me is mesmerizing it takes me back to a time I'm not familiar with but yet I am I know it sounds weird the saxophone is so so seductive I can't explain it but I can never ever ever get sick of this song ever because of the state of mine it puts me in
  • Natalie from Principality Of Monaco This is a stunningly beautiful masterpiece. I can listen to it 100 times ... as I can with the rest of the album and the whole of the Year of the Cat album. Sophisticated. Beautiful clear fine eloquent voice. Always a little tearful listening to these songs and realising 'I'm not young anymore'. But, please explain what this verse means. Is it that you are dreaming of an old friend who is no longer with us?

    “Well the picture is changing
    Now you're part of a crowd
    They're laughing at something
    And the music's loud
    A girl comes towards you
    You once used to know
    You reach out your hand
    But you're all alone, in these
    Time passages
    I know you're in there, you're just out of sight
    Time passages
    Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight…”
  • Db from North CarolinaI suppose with his artistic license, Al has a right to dislike the song. I loved it. You can jam to it anywhere, but with its soothing melody,you can listen to it before going to bed. As it is sure to summon up pleasant dreams. Especially the lines about the last train home tonight. That just invokes clear thoughts of the day winding down peacefully. I hope I have not offended anyone. My views are my own and just my own opinion. Wonderful Melody.
  • Dave from Lancashire My favourite al Stewart song this song is total class, I don’t think al has ever rote a bad song, compared to the rubbish what’s out today this song would blow them away
  • Tom from San JoseIt was December 3, 1978, I was out on the first date with my high school sweetheart and Time Passages played on the car radio. Over 40s years later whenever I hear this song, it takes me back in time. I love this song.

    "A girl comes towards you
    You once used to know
    You reach out your hand
    But you're all alone, in these
    Time passages."
  • John from Rhodes, GreeceI agree that it's a shame that reportedly Al doesn't like this song. It's a very insightful observation about life too. Maybe it's just the arrangement, in which case perhaps he ought to re-record it with a different feel. More acoustic guitar would always be good in Al's case!
  • Josh from Dublin, IrelandI actually prefer this song to YOTC
  • Hucklecat from New Jersey UsaSorry to hear that Al doesn't like it. One of my happiest memories of youth was me playing this song on my boombox and my mom and dad got up and started dancing with each other to the song. Sadly they divorced, but it was a moment of real joy for me & my parents. Just a lovely song.
  • Tim Chestnut from Conway ScI was a 1979 class senior in HS from Myrtle Beach High when this song first came out....near Christmas that year in 1978 I was heading to our local mall to do some Christmas shopping ....it was bleak cold windy blustery and looked to snow at anytime ....as I was pulling into the parking lot I noticed many folks some young some old scurrying about with packages some towing children trying to beat the cold...and this song came on the radio
    I had heard it before and liked it very much but this time it played to the hustle and bustle of shoppers ... it always reminds me of that cold day long ago every time I hear it....TIME passages!!!
  • Bh from OhioI attended an Al Stewart concert in 2013, and he told the crowd that producer Alan Parsons wanted to put the sax parts in against Al's wishes. According to Al, "how could I argue with a guy who just gave me a check for a million dollars?"
  • Barry from Manhattan Beach, CaThis song has a very special meaning to me. In November of 1978 at the tender age of 23 I got my first real time radio job, in a small Wisconsin town two hours from my home. I had just finished my interview and had written and produced a creative radio ad as part of my audition. They told me I had the job and started in a week! I started my drive home, elated, walking on air. I couldn't wait to tell my parents! Before l left town I stopped at a Tastee Freez to buy a burger to eat during the drive home. As I waited in line, snow began to fall outside and "Time Passages" played on the radio -- on the station that had just hired me! I realized that I was finally 'flying the coop,' leaving home, starting out on my own life. This song always brings me right back to that pivotal moment in my life. "Time Passages" indeed.
  • Howard from Lancaster, CaThis song has the greatest sax solo of all time. It perfectly goes with the feeling of the song.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 3rd, 1978 "Time Passages" by Al Stewart peaked at #7 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on September 30th at position #85 and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on November 11th, 1978 it reached #1 (for 10 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Mr. Stewart, born Alastair Ian Stewart, celebrated his 68th birthday three months ago on September 5th.
  • Larry from Detroit, MiOk behind "Year of the Cat" and "Song on the Radio", this is my next favorite Al Stewart song.....
  • Brian from Boston, MaThis is a great song.I don't care what kind of music you are into this and Year of the Cat are awsome.Perhaps not as good as year of the cat but a great song non the less.Melody that is what this song has and many of today's songs don't
  • Paul from Detroit, MiOkay, my favorite song from '78 and Al Stewart hates it. All SIX minutes of it? If that aint a kick in the ass. The only thing that annoyed me somewhat was his emphasis on the letter "s" "Time Passssagesss".
  • Bryan from Atlanta, GaI agree with brian from boston, MA. I love this haunting song. Love the lyrics, but I don't care for the sax part. I absolutely loathe screechy sax. I think a good Rhodes solo would have been more apropos.
  • Brian from Boston, MaI don't care what Al says this is a great song
  • Paul from Kennewick, WaToo bad Al doesn't like this one. It always brings a smile, as I loved it as a teen going through a lot of turbulence. But, I survived, and am now in a new city I love. Will never forget this one,and it takes me back to some pivitol times.
  • Michael from Philaelphia, PaI have ALWAYS LOVED THIS SONG. I'm 50; I have a list of about 35,000 songs that I've listed that I've liked or heard over my lifetime so far (yeah...very OCD...). This song is in my TOP 25...whereas "Year of the Cat" is in a grouping in the 21,000 range... This song evokes so many memories and feelings for me...it transports me back to the 70's, and also to some faraway places. Even though Mr. Stewart isn't thrilled by the song, I am SO GRATEFUL to him that he recorded it!
  • John from Grand Island, NyOne of the best songs of the 70's and is by far better than Year of the Cat. It always amazes me when an artist disses their own great stuff. John Lennon did that all the time and it really bothers me. Do they not know what their music means to people??
  • Bill from San Francisco, CaHe has rewritten this song, based on the "Muzak" issue. As performed on the Rhymes in Rooms album by Al and Peter White, it is based on an Irish jig. In a tour during the early '90s, the last he did with a full band, Al and Peter started out with two or three acoustic numbers, the went into the Irish version of Time Passages. During the first few verses, the band came on and they finished the song in the full version.
  • Adrian from Manchester, United KingdomThis elegaic musical reverie perfectly captures the feel of a middle-aged Brit catching a train home in snowy winter twilight--"a girl comes toward you that you once used to know" could be your younger self, or an old schoolmate, which rises unbidden from your memory as you stand in a nearly deserted station as snowflakes fall, fumbling in your coat pocket for your ticket. You marvel how fast your your youth passed, and your life is passing--but never mind, there's a warm pot of tea for you once you reach your cozy home. . .
  • Marty from Chicago, IlGreat song. Meaningful lyrics, beautiful haunting music. I can't imagine why Al Stewart didn't like it.
  • Kevin from Memphis , Tngreat song, but no "year of the cat" (fyi: #1 a/c hit for 10 weeks)
  • Sarah from Kennewick, WaWell this sucks to know he hates it, I love this song!
  • Dave from Portland, OrI remember listeing to this song when I was about 8 or 9, and thinking what a neat adventure he had in China. So when I could I flew off to China by myself and had a great time. So I lived his adventure and when I hear this song, it takes me back there.
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