*8.21-TIME HAS COME TODAY (Chambers Brothers)

Chambers Brothers



Time has come today.
Young hearts can go their way.
Can't put it off another day.
I don't care what others say.
They say we don't listen anyway.
Time has come today.

The rules have changed today.
I have no place to stay.
I'm thinking about the subway.
My love has flown away.
My tears have come and gone.
Oh my Lord, I have to roam.
I have no home. (2x)


Now the time has come.
There's no place to run.
I might get burned up by the sun.
But I had my fun.
I've been loved and put aside.
I've been crushed by the tumbling tide.
And my soul has been psychedelicized!

        Now the time has come.
        There are things to realize.
        Time has come today. (2x)

Time (9x)

[Repeat 3rd verse]

        [False Chorus]

Time (4x)

We have already encountered in Sly & the Family Stone’s We Love All a melding of psychedelic music and what was known as “soul”, a melding that would produce a variety of funk music in the late 1960s and during the 1970s. However, Sly Sylvester’s cut was held back from the Family Stone’s first album for nearly four decades. With Time Has Come Today we have a predominantly Black group, the Chambers Brothers, recording the first psychedelic soul single to be noted in Trance Love Airwaves. The song rose to just below the Top 10 for several weeks in the Summer of 1968, and represented a certain amount of success for the new mash up of styles. However, it took the Chambers Brothers song a long time to make it to the charts. First recorded in 1966, Time Has Come Today was refused by their record distribution company. By the time the song was re-recorded in November 1967 (the version released to the public in July 1968), it had become a part of the Chambers Brothers live show, and they were able to record the entire thing in one take, a remarkable achievement due to the many rhythm changes in the song.

The Chambers Brothers had been performing gospel and blues music together about a dozen years before they got their hit single, and it was a success they never surpassed. But even though the skeleton of Time Has Come Today was as simple as many garage band songs that have been excluded from this collection, their long familiarity with the stage introduced complex rhythmic changes, reverb and echo effects that had already been tested before a live audience. Like no other song of the time, the music captured the feeling of strobe lights and dancing while on LSD at a "happening", making psychedelia without seeming to be the product of an engineer’s studio magic. This ability to sound “live” caught on very quickly, and very soon Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were releasing songs that had been recorded in night clubs and dance venues. Such recordings depended on immediacy rather than innovation for their sonic excitement.

The lyrics of Time Has Come Today deserve attention, not because of their literary references, nor their complexity of structure, but because they express things that had not heretofore been subject matter of the genre. First off, this is a song of a homeless person, not one of Donovan's wandering gypsies. The singer is going to sleep in the subway, not because of a lovers’ spat (Don’t Sleep in the Subway, Darling by Petula Clark) but because he has no other place to go. Poverty had not been a subject of the psychedelic genre before. (As far as I can recall, poverty in sixties pop usually meant difficulty in dating a girl from a higher social class; ie. Down in the Boondocks by Billy Joe Royal, or Poor Side of Town by Johnny Rivers.) Secondly, this is the first and perhaps only time I know of when some form of the word “psychedelic” was used in a popular song. (True, the 13th Floor Elevators had used the term, probably for the first time in popular music, in the liner notes of their eponymous August 1966 album, but it hadn’t been sung, much less used as an end rhyme.) Lastly, I want to note that every line of the verses is a sentence in itself, often coming down hard on the same end rhymes, and that there is really only one form throughout the song (thus, I designate the chorus as “false”), variety being entirely introduced through changes of rhythm and texture.