Praying for Time

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"Praying for Time"
Praying for time george michael.jpg
Single by George Michael
from the album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
B-side"If You Were My Woman" (live at Wembley Stadium, 11 Jun '88)
Released13 August 1990
RecordedAutumn 1989
Songwriter(s)George Michael
Producer(s)George Michael
George Michael singles chronology
"Kissing a Fool"
"Praying for Time"
"Waiting for That Day"

"Praying for Time" is a song written and performed by George Michael, released on Epic Records in the UK and Columbia Records in the US in 1990. It spent one week in the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Michael's seventh number one. It was also the last solo single from Michael to occupy the top of the chart in the US.


The song was Michael's first single in almost two years, entering the UK Singles Chart in August 1990.

A dark and sombre reflection on social ills and injustice, it was hailed by critics, with James Hunter of Rolling Stone magazine describing the song as "a distraught look at the world's astounding woundedness. Michael offers the healing passage of time as the only balm for physical and emotional hunger, poverty, hypocrisy and hatred."[1]

The single peaked at number six in the UK, but it was his ninth number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. The song remained in the Billboard top 40 for ten weeks.[2] It was the first song of political motivation he had released as a single since his earliest days with Wham!.

The song was the first of five released in the UK from the album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, although it was the only one of the quintet to make the UK top 10. As of October 2017, the single sold 140,000 copies in UK.[3]

Music video[edit]

While Michael refused to appear in videos to support the album, an experimental video clip directed by Michael Borofsky was released for "Praying for Time", featuring only the lyrics of the song with a blue and black background that, at the end of the clip, reveals itself to be the image on the cover of the album. Some of the written lyrics featured in the video are slightly animated:

  • The lines "The rich declare themselves poor", and "And the wounded skies above" have a shimmering quality, as if written on water.
  • The lines "I guess somewhere along the way", "he must have let us out to play", and, at the start of the second verse, "These are the days of the empty hand", unroll themselves on the screen, as if written on a ribbon.
  • The single words forming the line "'cause God's stopped keeping score" appear on screen one at a time, in sync with the vocals, on both occurrences of that line.
  • In the second chorus, the words "love", "hate" and "hope", respectively at the end of the lines "It's hard to love", "There's so much to hate" and "Hanging on to hope", are all left literally hanging on the screen, fading out a few instants later after the other words in the respective lines have faded out.
  • The two occurrences of the line "when there is no hope to speak of", one in each chorus, feature different treatments of the word "hope". In the first chorus, the line appears without the word "hope", which flashes briefly on screen when it is sung; in the second chours, the word does not appear at all and the line is shown with a gap (i.e. "when there is no ____ to speak of"). Similarly, in the line "This is the year of the guilty man", the word "guilty" flashes on screen only when it is actually sung.

The video quickly became a buzz clip on MTV, and stayed in rotation on most video networks for weeks. Similarly, the commercial single had no cover photo, only words. Some have speculated that the style of the video was influenced by Prince's similar promo clip for Sign 'O' The Times released three years previously.

After Michael's temporary move to Virgin in 1996, Sony Music re-made the video in a simplified CGI version, with an uniformed black/grey background and no animations at all. This is the one most commonly available as of 2017, and as such it was released in the 2017 Deluxe Edition of the Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 album.

Track listing[edit]

7": Epic / GEO 1 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Praying for Time" – 4:40
  2. "If You Were My Woman" (live at Wembley Stadium, 11 Jun '88) – 4:05
  • also available on MC (Epic / GEO M1)
  • also available on 12" (Epic / GEO T1)
  • also available on CD (Epic / CD GEO 1)

CD: Epic / GEO C1 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Praying for Time" – 4:40
  2. "If You Were My Woman" (live at Wembley Stadium, 11 Jun '88) – 4:05
  3. "Waiting" (reprise) – 2:27
  • limited edition

Cassette, 7" and CD: Columbia 73512 (US)[edit]

  1. "Praying for Time" – 4:40
  2. "If You Were My Woman" (live at Wembley Stadium, 11 Jun '88) – 4:05


American Idol[edit]

"Praying for Time"
Single by Carrie Underwood
Released9 April 2008
Recorded9 April 2008 in the Kodak Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, L.A., CA, US
Songwriter(s)George Michael
Carrie Underwood singles chronology
"Last Name"
"Praying for Time"
"Just a Dream"

The song was performed by Carrie Underwood for the 2008 Idol Gives Back mini-marathon on 9 April 2008. In a matter of 24 hours, Underwood's rendition of "Praying for Time" reached number 10 on the Hot Digital Songs chart, with all proceeds being donated to charity.[which?] It also peaked at number 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the week of 26 April 2008. George Michael performed the song during the 2008 American Idol finale on 21 May 2008.


  1. ^ "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1".
  2. ^ Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th Ed., 2004)
  3. ^ "Remembering George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1". Official Charts Company. 13 October 2017. Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  4. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  5. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  6. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  7. ^ Lwin, Nanda. Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide (2000). Mississauga, Ont.: Music Data Canada
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1361." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  9. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  10. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  11. ^ The Irish Charts. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  12. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1990" (See number 14) (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  13. ^ George Michael singles sales ranking. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  14. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  16. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  17. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time". VG-lista. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  18. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time". Singles Top 100. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  19. ^ " – George Michael – Praying For Time". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  20. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  21. ^ "George Michael Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  22. ^ "George Michael Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  23. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart 1990 (61–100) (from The ARIA Report No. 50)". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  25. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Retrieved 15 September 2009.

External links[edit]