“Comes time when you gotta say it’s time, strike fast or the iron gets cold…”
I was recently impressed with Imagine Dragon’s single It’s Time. Nowadays, it’s so unusual for a well-crafted pop song with some melodic and harmonic complexity and a big hooky chorus to break through the scrum that when one does it feels far more significant than it probably should. The consequence of this desultory pop music landscape (and the pervasive D.I.Y. YouTube pop culture), is that a perfectly nice little pop song like Call Me Maybe becomes a absolute sensation and first-rate records, like say Rihanna’s Umbrella or Imagine Dragon’s It’s Time, feel like events. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
To be completely forthright, It’s Time is not actually my favorite song by that name. Indeed the old fashioned ubiquitousness of the Imagine Dragon’s song primarily served as a note to self that I myself wrote a not entirely crappy song by the same name all the way back in 1988. Despite several near brushes with greatness, my It’s Time has been well-loved by only a very small (but enthusiastic) group of people for all these many years, but Imagine Dragons has inspired me to drop my song on an unsuspecting public.
The reason I’m willing to risk seeming self-congratulatory is because It’s Time is by far the best song I ever wrote and it really could have been a hit. As you will hear, I was heavily in the thrall of the Pet Shop Boys at the time and you’ll just have to take my word that my little song didn’t sound terribly dissimilar to what was being played on the radio at the time. The song got off to a fast start. My friend Jennifer O’Sullivan was a creative manager at Warner Chappell Music and, to my delight, signed me—or rather it—to what was called a “one-off,” a publishing contract for that one song. The contract gave her a year or two to place the song. As I recall there was no money exchanged but I didn’t care as the contract was worth more than money. That piece of paper made me, or at least one of my songs, a Warner Chappell writer.
Though Jennifer submitted the song extensively she never got it cut. My other friend Steve Greenberg, who went on to discover and develop Alanis Morrisette, Hanson, and Joss Stone, loved the song. He didn’t care for my little Pet Shop Boys rap at the beginning so he cut it and then did a demo with a latin girl, I think her name was Roselle Nova. Latin Freestyle was really popular at the time and her version sort of fit into that sound (really pitchy, for one thing.) Nothing ever happened with her version of it, but here it is:
The next thing that happened was that Monica Benson in L.A., who had a company called BOK Music, signed the song to another kind of “one-off” deal, this one for a longer period of time. By now it was the early 1990s. She had like five years to place it. Nothing ever happened again. By that time music had changed so much that the original demo was unplayable and I had moved on to managing Billy Porter, so I kind of dropped the ball on my own song.
Though it never had master production values, the original demo is so dated now that it has a sort of charm. It sounds like I opened a time capsule. I had a great team on the song. It was produced by a wonderful guy named Daryl Kojak who had a studio in Hell’s Kitchen where I would go and work deep into the night before going back to my day job at Warners (only in your 20s can you even consider doing that!). Background vocals were by my friends Michael Fairman and Jennifer Pace. The sax solo was by my other friend David Stamm who is a great guy (shout out to David here!)
In fact, though it may seem like a sort of craziness at this point, I remain steadfastly hopeful for It’s Time’s prospects. This despite the fact that music has changed so much that truly the only outlet for it would be a children’s music project (I think even southeast Asia has changed beyond the grasp of It’s Time!) I can’t help my optimisim, though it may be cockeyed. To think otherwise would run counter to the song’s lyric, which I wrote myself and with total convinction.
So here at last, direct from another century, is my original demo of It’s Time!
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