Time (David Bowie song)

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"Time"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Aladdin Sane
B-side "The Prettiest Star"
Released 13 April 1973 (1973-04-13)[1] (US)
Format 7" single
Recorded RCA Studios, New York
Trident Studios, London
9 December 1972 -
24 January 1973
Genre Glam rock, avant-garde jazz
Length 3:38 (7" single edit)
5:14 (Full-length album version)
Label RCA
0007 (US)
Writer(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) Ken Scott, David Bowie
David Bowie singles chronology
"Drive-In Saturday"
(1973)
"Time"
(1973)
"Let's Spend the Night Together"
(1973)
Aladdin Sane track listing
"Cracked Actor"
(5)
"Time"
(6)
"The Prettiest Star"
(7)

"Time" is a song by David Bowie. Written in New Orleans in November 1972 during the American leg of his first Ziggy Stardust tour, it was released as the opening track on Side Two of the album Aladdin Sane in April 1973. An edited version of the song supplanted the release of the single "Drive-In Saturday" in the United States and Japan.[2]

Production and style[edit]

The piece has been described as "burlesque vamp,"[3] and compared to the cabaret music of Jacques Brel and Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill.[4] Keyboardist Mike Garson said that he employed "the old stride piano style from the 20s and I mixed it up with avant-garde jazz styles plus it had the element of show music, plus it was very European."[5] Co-producer Ken Scott took credit for the idea of mixing the sound of Bowie's breathing right up front when the music paused, just before guitarist Mick Ronson launched into his cacophonous solo.[5]

The song's best-known couplet is "Time - he flexes like a whore / Falls wanking to the floor"; RCA allowed it to remain in the US single edit, being unfamiliar with the meaning of the British term "wanking".[6] However when Bowie came to perform the song on the US television special The 1980 Floor Show in August 1973, he slurred the line in such a way as to render it "Falls swanking to the floor."[7] Conversely, RCA cut the line "In quaaludes and red wine" from the single, while Bowie retained it for The 1980 Floor Show. The phrase "Billy Dolls" refers to Billy Murcia, late drummer for the New York Dolls.[4][8]

Reception[edit]

Like its parent album, "Time" has divided critical opinion. Biographer David Buckley calls the full-length version "five minutes of wired perfection" and the lyrics "poetic and succinct",[5] while NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have described the words as sounding "strained and incomplete", concluding that "with such a weak lyric, the overly melodramatic music sounds faintly absurd".[8]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Time" (Bowie) – 3:38
  2. "The Prettiest Star" (Bowie) – 3:27

The Japanese release featured "Panic in Detroit" on the B-side.

Production credits[edit]

Live versions[edit]

  • It was recorded at the farewell concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, on 3 July 1973 (1973-07-03), later released on Ziggy Stardust - The Motion Picture.
  • The live version recorded for The 1980 Floor Show on 20 October 1973 (1973-10-20) was released on the semi-legal album RarestOneBowie in 1994.
  • A live version from the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour was released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc release of David Live in 1990. The 2004 reissue of David Live inserted "Time" into its correct position in the concert track listing.
  • Another live recording from the 1974 tour was released on the semi-legal album A Portrait in Flesh.
  • A live version from the Glass Spider tour recorded at the Montreal Olympic Stadium on 30 August 1987 was released as track 11 on the second disk of the limited edition 3-disc set released in 2007.

Other releases[edit]

  • It appeared on the Japanese compilation The Best of David Bowie.
  • The single edit of the song was released on the bonus disc of the Aladdin Sane - 30th Anniversary Edition in 2003.

This song is referenced in Series 01, Episode 04 of the BBC television program "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" in the sketch following the show's introductory sketch.

Cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Aladdin Sane (1973)". The Ziggy Stardust Companion. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  2. ^ Aladdin Sane at The Ziggy Stardust Companion
  3. ^ Kris Needs (1983). Bowie: A Celebration: p.29
  4. ^ a b Ben Gerson (19 July 1973). Rolling Stone review of Aladdin Sane
  5. ^ a b c David Buckley (1999) Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp. 185-187
  6. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p. 218
  7. ^ "Time" at The Ziggy Stardust Companion
  8. ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: pp.54-55

References[edit]

Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

External links[edit]