In the studio

‘Time’ was recorded at Trident Studios in central London in January 1973.

Did I have fun with reverbs on this. From the delayed short reverb on David’s vocal and Woody’s drums, to killing it on the three ‘You’s to bring David more up close and personal in the second verse, followed by Ronno’s guitar moving backwards and forwards through adding and subtracting reverb. Great fun and what a performance from everyone.
Ken Scott, May 2015
Five Years (1969-1973) book

The album’s producer, Ken Scott, later described ‘Time’ as his favourite of its songs.

It’s my favourite because everything works – it all fits together perfectly. There’s nothing there that you would like to change. The way the Beethoven interpolation works with the vocals that come in immediately after it is brilliant. I always found it fascinating that in America they would beep out the word ‘quaaludes’, but they allowed ‘falls wanking to the floor’. They didn’t know what wanking was, so they allowed that.
Ken Scott
Aladdin Sane – 30th anniversary reissue

The release

‘Time’ was issued as a single in the USA, Canada, France, South Africa, and India in 1973, with ‘The Prettiest Star’ on the b-side.

The song was edited for the release, with the ending faded out to reduce its running time from 5:16 to 3:44.

In Spain the single was given away with early copies of David Live in October 1974.

In Japan the single’s b-side was ‘Panic In Detroit’.

Live performances

‘Time’ was performed during the 1973 dates of the Ziggy Stardust Tour. The performance from the final show in July 1973 can be heard on Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture.

Bowie’s performance from the 1980 Floor Show was included on the grey-market release RarestOneBowie, issued by MainMan in May 1995.

‘Time’ made a return for the Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974. When David Live was first released on compact disc in 1990 by Rykodisc/EMI, it included two bonus live recordings at the end of the album: a cover of the Ohio Players’ ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’, and ‘Time’.

When EMI/Virgin reissued David Live in 2005, ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’ and ‘Time’ were restored to their correct places in the concert running order.

The 2017 album Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74) contains another rendition of ‘Time’ from the Diamond Dogs Tour.

‘Time’ was then left alone until its revival for the Glass Spider Tour. A performance is on Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87).

Mike Garson was part of Bowie’s band for the Earthling Tour, and sometimes played the ‘Time’ introduction towards the end of ‘Battle For Britain (The Letter)’ – as heard on the album liveandwell.com.

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Next song: ‘The Prettiest Star’