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Time Is on My Side

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"Time Is on My Side"
Single by Kai Winding
A-side"Baby Don't Come On with Me"
ReleasedOctober 3, 1963 (1963-10-03)
GenreRhythm and blues
Songwriter(s)Norman Meade a.k.a. Jerry Ragovoy
Producer(s)Creed Taylor

"Time Is on My Side" is a song written by Jerry Ragovoy (using the pseudonym "Norman Meade"). First recorded by jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his orchestra in 1963, it was covered (with additional lyrics by Jimmy Norman) by both soul singer Irma Thomas and then later the Rolling Stones in 1964.

Kai Winding[edit]

The song was first recorded by Kai Winding, a Danish-American jazz trombonist who was looking to take his career in a more mainstream direction.[1] Session arranger Garry Sherman contacted friend and colleague Jerry Ragovoy,[citation needed] who wrote the title, melody and chorus. The session singers Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne Warwick and Cissy Houston sang "time is on my side – you'll come running back" in a gospel style over Winding's trombone melody.[1] Produced by Creed Taylor and engineered by Phil Ramone, the recording was released on the Verve Records label[citation needed] in October 1963. It received some radio coverage but did not chart.[1]

Irma Thomas rendition[edit]

"Time Is on My Side"
Single by Irma Thomas
A-side"Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)"
ReleasedJune 1964
GenreRhythm and blues
Producer(s)Eddie Ray

On April 16, 1964, Irma Thomas recorded an R&B cover of the song as the B-side for the single "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)", released on Imperial Records. H. B. Barnum, the session director, suggested the song, and session singer Jimmy Norman wrote the lyrics during the recording.[2][3] Thomas monologues during the song that her ex-lover, not she, will suffer for his bad behavior.[1]

Produced by Eddie Ray, Thomas' version of "Time Is on My Side" provided the inspiration for the title of her 1996 greatest hits release Time Is on My Side.

Rolling Stones version[edit]

"Time Is on My Side"
Single by the Rolling Stones
from the album The Rolling Stones No. 2 and 12 x 5
ReleasedSeptember 25, 1964 (1964-09-25) (US single version)
RecordedJune 24–26, 1964 (US single version)
StudioRegent Sound, London
Producer(s)Andrew Loog Oldham
The Rolling Stones American singles chronology
"It's All Over Now"
"Time Is on My Side"
"Heart of Stone"

Thomas' song came to The Rolling Stones' attention as they often bought U.S.-imported music from Soho shops. According to Garth Cartwright of the Financial Times, Thomas' "big chorus, blues flavour and callous dismissal of a lover" suited the band.[1] They first recorded the song in June 1964, within days of hearing it, at London's Regent Sound studios. They used a briefer organ-only intro and guitars in place of horns to create a rock anthem song, with vocalist Mick Jagger imitating Thomas' ad-libs.[1][4] This looser arrangement was released as a single in the US, on September 25, 1964,[4] and was included the following month on their US album 12 X 5. It became the band's first top ten hit in the United States.[5] Cash Box described it at the time as a "throbbing rhythm affair" with "an effective mid-deck recitation".[6]

The second arrangement (more tightly arranged and featuring guitar in the intro), recorded in Chicago's Chess studio on November 8, 1964,[7][1] was released in the UK on January 15, 1965,[8] on The Rolling Stones No. 2. This later rendition is the one that receives the most airplay and appears on most "best of" compilations. Both versions incorporate elements of Irma Thomas's recording, including spoken-word interjections in the chorus, a monologue in the middle of the song, and distinctive lead guitar.[citation needed]

The single peaked at No. 6 on the US Billboard Pop Singles Chart to become the Rolling Stones' first top ten hit in the US. Their previous single, "It's All Over Now", had peaked at No. 26.

A live version of the song from the band's 1982 live album, Still Life, reached No. 62 in the UK Singles Chart.[9]

The song was part of the British Invasion, in which English covers of black American songs received more U.S. radio attention than the original. Thomas refused to sing her version after the Rolling Stones' recording for multiple decades, telling interviewers that the band had not acknowledged her despite given support act slots to other singers like Tina Turner. In 1992, she began performing it again following a TV show appearance in which the host Bonnie Raitt introduced her as the original singer.[1] On May 2, 2024, during the Rolling Stones' performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Jagger and Thomas performed the song as a duet, which was the first time the Rolling Stones had performed the song live since 1998.[10]


Credits adapted from Margotin and Guesdon[5]


Chart (1964–65) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[11] 5
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[12] 3
Finland (Soumen Virallinen)[13] 20
France 4
Germany (Official German Charts)[14] 28
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[15] 6
New Zealand (Lever Hit Parade)[16] 2
Sweden (Kvällstoppen)[17] 17
Switzerland 3
US Billboard Hot 100[18] 6

Recordings by other artists[edit]

"Time Is on My Side" has since been covered by artists such as Indexi, Michael Bolton, Cat Power, Hattie Littles, Blondie, Wilson Pickett, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, the O'Jays, the Pretty Things, Lorraine Ellison, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Kim Wilson, Tracy Nelson, Patti Smith,[19] Andrés Calamaro (for his "El Salmón", a CD with 103 songs), and the Moody Blues (in 1965 and on the 1985 re-release of The Magnificent Moodies).

Pop singer and pianist Vanessa Carlton recorded a version for a Time Warner digital video recorders commercial, which also served as promotion for her second album, Harmonium (2004), and received heavy rotation on US television during early 2005.[20] The newspaper Metroland reviewed her take on the song negatively, and wrote, "we tend to think time is most definitely not on her side — how else to explain the near-universal apathy to the release of her second album, Harmonium?"[21] Harmonium was not re-issued to include the song.

In 2004, Jimmy Norman, who wrote the lyrics to "Time is on My Side" but whose name was eventually removed from credits,[22] recorded it for the first time as the last track on his album Little Pieces.

In 2007, English soul singer Beverley Knight recorded it, featuring Ronnie Wood, for her fifth studio album, Music City Soul.

In 2012, American professional wrestler Bray Wyatt would often menacingly sing the chorus of the song during his promos.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Cartwright, Garth (February 11, 2024). "Time Is on My Side — how Irma Thomas reclaimed her 1964 track". Financial Times. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  2. ^ Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures: Taken From The Vaults Volume 1 (Media notes). Ace Records. 1997.
  3. ^ Sargent, William (2021). Superstar in a Masquerade. Page Publishing. ISBN 978-1-64628-896-0.
  4. ^ a b Elliott, Martin (2012). The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962–2012 (50th anniversary ed.). London: Cherry Red Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-901447-77-4.
  5. ^ a b Margotin & Guesdon 2016, pp. 80, 81.
  6. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. October 10, 1964. p. 12. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  7. ^ Margotin & Guesdon 2016, pp. 81.
  8. ^ Elliott, Martin (2012). The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962–2012 (50th anniversary ed.). London: Cherry Red Books. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-901447-77-4.
  9. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 467/8. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  10. ^ Spera, Keith (May 2, 2024). "The Rolling Stones' age-defying 2024 Jazz Fest show went 'from old to new' with Irma Thomas". NOLA.com. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
  11. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Time Is on My Side" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4677." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  13. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. p. 240. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  14. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Time Is on My Side" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  15. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Time Is on My Side" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Flavour of New Zealand, 4 February 1965". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 11 May 2024.
  17. ^ Hallberg, Eric (1993). Eric Hallberg presenterar Kvällstoppen i P 3: Sveriges radios topplista över veckans 20 mest sålda skivor 10. 7. 1962 - 19. 8. 1975. Drift Musik. p. 243. ISBN 9163021404.
  18. ^ "The Rolling Stones Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Patti Smith Group – Ask The Angels / Time Is On My Side (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1976-10-21. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  20. ^ "Time Warner's DVR is on your side!". Archived from the original on May 15, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  21. ^ "Anna Cheek CD-Release Party". Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  22. ^ Sisario, Ben (2004-11-03). "The songs (with a bumpy detour) never end". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
  23. ^ "FCW Bray Wyatt Promo". YouTube.