Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Album: Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
Charted: 7
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Songfacts®:

  • A track from Chicago's first album, this is an example of an early song featuring their horn section of Walter Parazaider, James Pankow and Lee Loughnane. It's also an example of a very cerebral lyric which asks the kind of existential question commonly posited in the '60s. The song stresses the importance of taking time to appreciate the small pleasures in life instead of rushing from one place to another against the clock.
  • Chicago singer and keyboard player Robert Lamm wrote this song and sang lead. He explained on The Chris Isaak Hour: "I was a teenager walking down the street in Brooklyn, New York where I grew up. I walked by a movie theater and there was an usher standing outside taking a cigarette break. I said to him, 'Hey man, what time is it?' and he said, 'Does anybody really know what time it is?' I remembered that when I was trying to write this sort of Beatle-esque shuffle and just explore the idea of 'Does anybody really know what time it is?'"
  • The album version runs 4:33 and contains a piano intro by Robert Lamm that was removed for the single release, which was cut down to 3:17. Lamm would often play the intro when they performed this song live, which can be heard on their Chicago At Carnegie Hall album.
  • This song first appeared on the Chicago Transit Authority album in 1969, but it wasn't released as a single until late 1970, long after their second album had been issued. This is because of "Make Me Smile," part of a suite of songs on that second album that the record company edited down for single release. When it became a hit, they learned that by chopping down Chicago's songs a bit, they could find a home among the popular tunes on AM radio. "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," in shortened form, reached its peak of #7 the first week of 1971.
  • The jazz guitarist Grant Green released a 5:10 instrumental cover of this song on his 1971 album Visions.
  • This was the first song the band recorded together. They had been playing live for over a year, but the studio was a new experience for them.
  • In the 2000 Adam Sandler film Little Nicky, this song is used for comedic effect when it was played backwards to show that it contains satanic messages. Sandler, in character as the spawn of Satan, explains that Ozzy Osbourne "always came straight with his messages," but Chicago was more nefarious. He puts on the album, plays this song, then spins it backward to reveal: "I command you in the name of Lucifer to spread the blood of the innocent!"

Comments: 15

  • Mike from Las Vegas,nvOne of the great songs of Chicago Transit Authority
  • Richard from San Marcos, CaI'm pretty sure the last verse is supposed to read "Everybody's worryin' " not working.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyToday {December 17th, 2015} the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2016 inductees, the newest members will be Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, Cheap Trick and NWA; and they will be inducted info the HoF on April 8th, 2016 in New York City...
    And exactly forty five years earlier on December 17th, 1970 Chicago's "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" was at #8 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; ten days later on December 27th it would peak at #7 {for 2 weeks}...
    {See the next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 1st 1970, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is" by Chicago entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #72; and eight weeks later on December 27th, 1970 it peaked at #7 {for 2 weeks} and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #5 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Was track 2 of side 1 on the group's debut album, 'Chicago Transit Authority', although the album only reached #17 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart it stayed on the chart for 171 weeks...
    Three other tracks from the album also made the Top 100 chart; "Questions 67 & 68" {#71, then #24 when re-released in 1971}, "Beginnings" {#7}, and "I'm A Man" {#49}...
    Keyboardist/vocalist Robert Lamm, who composed the song, celebrated his 70th birthday nineteen days ago on October 13th {2014}.
  • Martin from Fresno, CaIt always calms me down whenever I get in a hurry. That song is a reminder not to worry about the time but to focus on relationships.
  • Robert from Houston, TxThe talking at the end of the song is Robert in the background.

    People running everywhere
    Don't know where to go
    Don't know where i am
    Can't see past the next step
    Don't have time to think past the next mile ( guessing on this line)
    Have no time to look around
    Just run around, run around and think why..

    Thanks to chicagotheband.us/forum

  • Rocco from New York City, NyWhat is that talking that goes on toward the end of the song?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyGreat song; their first two LPs are just simple great!!!
  • Jim from Indio, CaThere's a live version where Robert introduces the piece and then says "Terry hates this song."
  • Robert Lamb from Chicago, Virgin Islands (u.s.)Want a real true story. Got on a CTA bus asked if anyone knew what time it was, a guy laughed and asked me if anyone cares, he told me he wrote a song called that, and said it was good, sang some right then and there but i reallycould not hear it.. a woman turned around and asked him to stop singing , he told her someday yoiu will have to pay to hear it. Guess who it was...true story Real nice guy then and now
  • Nicholas Cano from San Antonio, Txmy dad phil cano wrote a song like this in 1969 he sent it to a ad on a comic book for requesting poems and never got a response?
  • Henry from Pawtucket, RiThe title comes from a doorman whom Robert Lamm asked for the time and he said, "Does Anybody Really Know...."
  • Confidential from Confidential, NyI like the interesting intro that doesn't have the melody of the actual song.
  • Michael from Chicago, IlThe word 'alternative' has been used a lot these days in reference to music, but Chicago was alternative way before the modern use of the word -- they did not start out getting airplay in their own hometown, at least not on AM top 40 radio; no, they got discovered by the college crowd, and first got aired on the FM underground stations of the time -- they even impressed Jimi Hendrix! Now people think that they are 'mainstream', or 'corporate'. HA!
  • Mark from Lancaster, OhConsider the times: by 1969 nobody'd heard horns in popular music since Perry Como's Christmas Special. Wind instruments were strictly Lawrence Welk, and here comes Chicago (the 'Transit Authority' was removed from their name when the real CTA, the ones that own the trains in Illinois, complained.) Everyone liked the sound, but somehow it felt like a guilty pleasure; we were committed to guitars, drums, and the occasional ocarina for ethnic effect. But Chicago didn't care, and it was great.
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