David Bowie told the Mail on Sunday this song deals with the industrial pollution and destruction of our planet: "One Saturday afternoon in April 1986, along with some other musicians I was taking a break from recording at Montreux studios in Switzerland. It was a beautiful day and we were outside on a small piece of lawn facing the Alps and the lake. Our engineer, who had been listening to the radio, shot out of the studio and shouted: 'There's a whole lot of s--t going on in Russia.' The Swiss news had picked up a Norwegian radio station that was screaming - to anyone who would listen - that huge billowing clouds were moving over from the Motherland and they weren't rain clouds. This was the first news in Europe of the satanic Chernobyl. I phoned a writer friend in London, but he hadn't heard anything about it. It wasn't for many more hours that the story started trickling out as major news. For those first few moments it felt sort of claustrophobic to know you were one of only a few witnesses to something of this magnitude. Over the next couple of months a complicated crucible of impressions collected in my head prompted by this insanity, any one of which could have become a song. I stuck them all in 'Time Will Crawl.' That last sentence rhymes!"
A remix of this song was included on iSelect, a compilation album personally compiled by Bowie. Bowie told the Mail on Sunday why he chose to remix this track: "There are a host of songs that I've recorded over the years that for one reason or another (clenched teeth) I've often wanted to re-record some time in the future. This track from Never Let Me Down is one of those. I've replaced the drum machine with true drums and added some crickety strings and remixed. I'm very fond of this new version with its Neil Young of Shortlands accents. Oh, to redo the rest of that album."