Rolling Stones – Time Is On My Side

I remember back in 1981 when the Stones were touring across America. This song was released from the tour with a great version of Twenty Flight Rock. I bought the singles Going to a Go-Go and this one, the live album (Still Life) and then I saw the video Let’s Spend The Night Together. It was going to be the LAST tour of the Stones…uh yeah

The song was written by  Jerry Ragovoy (using the pseudonym “Norman Meade”). The song was originally released by the Stones in 1964 and it peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100. This is one of the very few songs that I prefer the live version to the studio version in 1964.

Keith Richards said of this song: “In America we were basically known for heavy, slowish kind of ballads. ‘Time Is On My Side,’ ‘Tell Me,’ ‘Heart of Stone,’ that was what we were known for. Strangely enough that was our thing. Every single was a slow song. Who would believe it? You’d think they’d be clamoring for out-and-out rock and roll, but no, it was the soul ballads that happened for us in America.”

From Songfacts

This song was originally recorded by the jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his Orchestra on the Verve Records label in October 1963. His version was mostly instrumental with just the lyric “time is on my side” sung by the background trio of Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick.

The first fully vocal version was recorded by the New Orleans soul singer Irma Thomas; her version was released as the B-side of “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)” in June 1964. The Rolling Stones released their version of the song in the US on September 26, 1964, and it became their first Top 10 hit in America. Thomas’ version contains a spoken part in the middle that the Stones left out.

The lyrics were most likely written by Jimmy Norman, who was a member of The Coasters. The songwriting credit is unclear, and usually lists Jerry Ragovoy, who wrote “Piece Of My Heart” and “Try” for Janis Joplin, as the only writer, sometimes as “Norman Meade,” which he used as a pseudonym. Thomas’ original single lists the credit as “J. Norman – N. Meade.” Ragovoy, who also produced the song for Thomas, died in 2011 at age 80. 

In this song, Mick Jagger has lost his girl, but he knows it’s just a matter of time until he returns. After all, he’s got “the real love, the kind that you need.”

This was one of two songs The Stones performed on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance, October 25, 1964. The other was “Around And Around,” a Chuck Berry cover.

That February, The Beatles made their historic debut on Sullivan to crowd hysteria. The Stones hadn’t yet developed a fan base in America, but the teenage girls in the audience still went crazy. The appearance earned them lots of attention and helped send “Time Is On My Side” up the chart – it reached #6 on December 5.

The Stones returned to the show five more times, always earning a wildly enthusiastic greeting from the crowd. On their fifth appearance, they capitulated to Sullivan by changing “Let’s Spend The Night Together” to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”

The Rolling Stones released two versions of this song. The US single was recorded in England and is slower, with a gospel organ. The British version was recorded at Chess studios in Chicago.

This song played a key role in the suspense thriller Fallen with Denzel Washington and John Goodman.

Time Is On My Side

Time is on my side, yes it is.
Time is on my side, yes it is.
Now you all were saying that you want to be free
But you’ll come runnin’ back (I said you would baby), 
You’ll come runnin’ back (like I told you so many times before),
You’ll come runnin’ back to me.

Time is on my side, yes it is.
Time is on my side, yes it is.
You’re searching for good times but just wait and see,
You’ll come runnin’ back (I said you would darling), 
You’ll come runnin back (Spent the rest of life with ya baby),
You’ll come runnin’ back to me.

Go ahead baby, go ahead, go ahead and light up the town!
And baby, do anything your heart desires
Remember, I’ll always be around.
And I know, I know like I told you so many times before
You’re gonna come back,
Yeah you’re going to come back baby
Knockin’, knockin’ right on my door.

Time is on my side, yes it is.
Time is on my side, yes it is.
‘Cause I got the real love, the kind that you need.
You’ll come runnin’ back (I knew you would one day), 
You’ll come runnin’ back (Baby I told you before),
You’ll come runnin’ back to me.

Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is.
Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is. 
Time, time, time is on my side



Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

32 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Time Is On My Side”

    1. I like that one also… I almost forgot about it.

      Do you remember the outtake from the Stone’s film? Keith taking off his Telecaster and bashing someone over the head that ran on stage after Mick?


  1. I saw the Stones in KC on their ’81 tour. I remember it was touted as their ‘farewell’ tour because they were such old guys, haha! So, I have a special love for the ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ film. I always loved their slow, soulful ballads, so I guess it fits that I’m American. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea we must all like those ballads. I rarely do I like a live version over the studio version but it was more clear in this version…plus the 14 year old me loved this version.
      I wanted to see them so bad but they didn’t come near Nashville. That would have been a great tour to see them on. No backup singers…just them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, it was just the Stones and their instruments onstage in ’81. Their ‘special effects’ were Mick riding in a cherry picker, and for the finale, hundreds of balloons released from the rafters. And we were awed by it. 🙂 In KC, Mick Taylor joined them onstage for a few songs, which was a big deal. That was such a cool tour. I had friends that traveled far to see them that tour; before they announced the KC show. I didn’t have the means to travel, so I feel incredibly lucky that they ended up adding KC.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You got to see Mick Taylor…I am jealous. He is my favorite Stones guitarist. Mick was said to be unhappy on this tour about the backup singing and that is the reason they expanded…I would have liked to see them then… I had no means either to travel.

        From the film it looked so colorful on stage.


      3. It was definitely colorful, which was mostly Mick’s outfits, as I remember. He wore some wild outfits. About Mick Taylor, I’ve seen the Stones four times, and in two of those Mick Taylor joined them on stage. Not sure what the odds of that were.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The odds are not great that is for sure. I’ve seen them twice. You can always tell when Mick Taylor plays…they sound like they did in 72…He is great.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating song facts that I never knew. I presumed it was a Jagger/Richards composition. I love the Stones. I love the intricate riffs that Richards weaves, one on top of the other. He is lays down hard beats too as strong as Dr. Dre’s–like with Satisfaction. But, yes, I prefer the soulful ballads like Time Is On My Side.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought for the longest it was their song also. Keith is the ultimate weaver of guitars…no fancy lead just layers…For me the best example would be Beast of Burden.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. I argue a lot about the album Some Girls. I think it’s the best Stones album. Ironically– because of what I’ve just written–Gimme Shelter is my favorite example of Richards’ weaving. Next to that, it would be Shattered, then Beast of Burden, then possibly Monkey Man.
        I love what Richards says about his technique. He says the weaving comes from Reggae artists. He took their adage as his own: “Just let it flow. If you think too much, you ruin it. If you think you stink.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He has a built in vision for guitars. Hendrix had it but not a lot of people do. Monkey Man is one of my favorite songs by them. The way it was used in Goodfellas is incredible.
        I think Some Girls is the last great album by the Stones…I’m on your side there.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah. It’s a phenomenal album. It’s so soulful. Jagger and Richards always said “we’re just an R&B band.” They said that proudly, of course. I think, Tattoo You is their last great album. I know a lot of people view it as a very good album but not a great one…To me, it’s not as good as Some Girls or Sticky Fingers but better than Let It Bleed. Anyway…I can talk about the Stones all day. Even more that the Beatles, but I like the Beatles better…Just a bit, but still…better.
        Glad your back Max.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I liked Tattoo You as well but like you said I don’t consider it up with their great ones. I liked it better than Steel Wheels that came after. It was a hodge podge of good songs…some really good. I like the album cuts like “Tops”….good memories with that album.

        Thank you Pam…today was my first day back in the office…It’s good to even be back at work. Thanks for sending me that info about your husband. I went to the ER on Friday just to make sure it was alright. I will change Doctors regardless.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Duffin from Clarksville…I’ll never ever go outside of Nashville again. It was a dumb thing on my part but all I wanted was my stone broken up…it turned into a nightmare.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That Keith quote is interesting – the first Stones CD I bought was a greatest hits, ‘Hot Rocks’ I think, from the US, and track 1 was this song. For ages I thought it was one of their biggest hits… Not in the UK, anyway

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I had Hot Rocks…great collection. It was their first top ten hit here I believe. After my Soft Cell statement I double checked it was their first one here. lol.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably more than we know. He took charge that is for sure. I do love Keith’s guitar on this song also…put to it’s normal use lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good song, I always assumed it was a Stones original. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this live version but “Going to a Go-go” … I forgot about that song, but I like it quite a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like Army logic lol. I’ve always liked the 81 live version…rarely do I say I like a live version better.


      1. Yep that is me. The Stones live between 69-73 were great and so were the Who but I like Studio recordings better


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