Time Is Tight

Album: Uptight (1968)
Charted: 4 6
  • songfacts ®
  • Booker T. & the MG's were the house band for Stax Records, but they released some albums under their name. They first recorded this in the mid-'60s and reworked it in 1968 for the James Coburn movie Duffy. When the band learned they would have to give up their publishing rights to the song, they killed the deal. It ended up getting placed in another 1968 film, Uptight, directed by Jules Dassin. They didn't want to name the song "Uptight" because of Stevie Wonder's 1965 hit "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," so they went with "Time Is Tight."
  • This song is driven by the Hammond B-3 organ played by Booker T. Jones. He played guitar, saxophone and a variety of other instruments when he joined Stax, but the organ is where he made his mark. "The first time I saw a Hammond organ I just got a feeling inside about it and I was comfortable," he said in a Songfacts interview. "I'm more comfortable at that than any other instrument."
  • After the demise of Booker T. & the MG's, band members Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn joined The Blues Brothers (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd), who used this in the introduction to their live show.
  • A famous cover of the song emerged by UK punk band The Clash, who would often use the song as a live warm-up. The Attractions' Steve Nieve contributed some piano lines in the recorded version, which was done at Marquee Studios in March 1978 before being completed by producer Bill Price in August 1979 during the London Calling sessions for inclusion on the US rarities compilation Black Market Clash. It featured only once live for the band, as the set opener to a show in Los Angeles in April 1980.
  • With the guitar and bass playing the same line, this song is similar to Booker T. & the MG's hit "Green Onions," but there is one big difference: Booker T. Jones played a Hammond M-3 organ on that one; on "Time Is Tight," he played a B-3.
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Comments: 14

  • Steve from TorontoThere's a great guitar version of this by the fantastic British band 'The Shadows', a good video on Youtube.
  • Drew from Birmingham, AlAnyone else noticed that the whole piano epitune concluding "Layla" by Derek and the Dominoes can be made a song of its own, a tune with the riff and accompaniment of this very instrumental? It takes a little imagination, but it would be very, VERY easy to do.
  • Michael from Illinois, IlNOBODY, BUT NOBODY can play drums on this like AL JACKSON!!! A MACHINE!!! A FREAKIN' METRONOME!!! LIKE A CLOCK!!!
  • Rob from Ft. Mitchell, AlI learned how to play the drums with this song.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhGood points, James from Spring Hill; the song "builds" as you say and contains those subtle layers that make this song SO listen-able. One of my all-time favorite instrumentals!
  • James from Spring Hill, KsActually, the Blues Brothers used both Time is Tight and Can't Turn You Loose. In the film, Time is used in the "build" and Can't Turn You is used in the "intro" of Jake and Elwood. And as Ben notes sometimes mixed in shows. Julian, I agree. This is maybe my favorite number from the 60's/70's and I especially like how it builds and how Booker uses uncommon restraint on the keys to add subtle layers that other players would blow through and over power the number.
  • Ben from Schwyz, SwitzerlandActually the Blues Brothers often used a combination of Can't Turn You Loose and Time Is Tight. The rhythm section plays the groove of Time Is Tight and the Horns play the riffs of Can't Turn You Loose of over it. You can hear this in the car chasing scene in the super market in the (first) film.
  • Carl-walter from Hannover, Germanycholthoff@t-online.de
  • Carl-walter from Hannover, GermanyI forgot to mention: whoever knows about the drawbars, please email me:
  • Carl-walter from Hannover, GermanyDoes anybody know Booker's drawbars for "Time is Tight"?
    Carl-Walter, Germany
  • Rahj from New York, NyNot only did they borrow the rhythm and bass line but Squeeze also use to open shows with this songs and segue it into "In Quintessence."
  • Mike from San Diego, CaIn a book about the band Squeeze,Glenn Tilbrook said that he borrowed from Time is Tight for his song 'In Quintessence'. He also said Elvis Costello borrowed from it too for his song 'Temptation'. -Mike,San Diego,CA
  • Otis from Reading, PaThe Blues Brothers used the Otis Redding composed Can't Turn You Loose in the opening of their shows, not Time is Tight. THey have similar rhythms so i could understand the confusion.
  • Julian from Anaheim, CaI LOVE THIS FRICKIN SONG!!!
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