Written by Bobby Braddock, who also wrote Tracy Lawrence's 1995 hit "Texas Tornado," "Time Marches On" follows the lives of a young family and the hardships they face as they grow older. By the end of the song, the philandering father is dead, the long-suffering mother has Alzheimer's disease, the baby sister is a grandmother, and the dope-smoking brother battles high cholesterol. "The only thing that stays the same," Lawrence sings, "is everything changes, everything changes."
Braddock told The Tennessean the story behind the song: "It was just a culmination of a lot of different things that started to come together. I would go down to my little hometown in Florida and I noticed that the people who were middle-aged were gone. My younger teachers were then middle-aged or late middle-aged, and I've always been interested in time and physics and the 'what-ifs' of life. And I just got the idea of writing a song about this family that just spends their whole lifetime in about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, and put some things in there that we're not supposed to put in country songs, like dementia."
Braddock wanted the melody to resemble the ticking of a clock.
In the lyrics, we first meet the sister as a baby crying in her crib, then again as a teen applying her makeup, and finally as a grown woman calling herself a "Sexy Grandma." Braddock's former mother-in-law had a bumper sticker with the phrase that he found hilarious.
This mentions the Hank Williams songs "Kaw Liga" and "Dear John," and the Bob Dylan tune "Like a Rolling Stone
This was nominated for Single of the Year at the 1996 Country Music Association Awards, but lost to George Strait's "Check Yes Or No." It was also nominated twice for the CMA Song of the Year in 1996 and 1997, with Vince Gill's "Go Rest High On That Mountain
" and Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine
" taking the prize, respectively.
This was a #1 Country hit in both the US and Canada.