This week I find myself in New Orleans where, purely by coincidence, the French Quarter Music Festival is happening. This is how I came to see local legend Irma Thomas belting out “Time Is on My Side” yesterday at the “Abita Beer Stage,” sounding something like this:
Irma’s version is not the original — it was done first by trombonist Kai Winding and his orchestra in 1963. But it was her cover, recorded in early 1964, that provided the template for the version the Stones did later that year.
This song is used to chilling effect in the movie Fallen, which I think is about due for another viewing at our home. It also was featured in an episode of Treme, which was set in New Orleans, which brings us full circle and lets me get on with my day.
So Irma Thomas is still with us–does she still have the amazing voice & emotion of this 1964 recording? I also enjoyed the Kai Winding version. I always have special regard for happening trombonists, since I performed rock & roll on this instrument along with a drummer & a pianist in my junior high talent show in the mid-50s.
She was still in good voice, but in a festival setting the song didn’t have quite the same nuance. On the other hand, it takes a different kind of resonance now, 53 years after she recorded it. Time truly is on her side.