Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Composed by Robert Lamm

Song Review by

According to James Pankow’s commentary in the liner notes of the 2002 remastered CD edition of Chicago Transit Authority (1969), “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” “was the first track that we started.” Thus began the band’s four-plus decade long recording career. This catchy Robert Lamm composition has also had quite an impact on the charts as it became Chicago’s third Top Ten hit in less than seven months. Although it was considerably lighter fare than other album sides such as “Questions 67 & 68” or the edgy “South California Purples”, it pointed the way for the Adult Contemporary leanings that would become synonymous with the combo during the ensuing decades. The narrative is a fairly straight-forward observation of the hurried and harried modern society as it ultimately fails to take the ‘time’ to appreciate anything existing outside of its’ insular world. Musically, the juxtaposition of Chicago’s biting horn section -- in particular, Lee Loughnane’s stunning trumpet -- and Lamm’s slightly dissonant piano introduction, gives “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” a distinct flavour and ultimately sets the tenure for the band’s sound. When the song was issued as the A-side of a 7” single (b/w “Listen”) in November of 1970, Lamm’s piano intro was judiciously removed. Although the original 45 featured a monaural mix, a stereo version of the single edit is available on the two-CD Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning compilation. In addition to becoming one of Chicago’s most identifiable hits, there are several live renditions available -- most notably on the Live in Japan 1972 (1973) double-disc set, which is linked to the extended “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? [Free Form Intro]” from Lamm. There are also a few interesting covers, including a rare recording from Brit metal icons Deep Purple on their Listen Learn Read On (2002) box set as well as jazzy readings from Grant Green and Sunny Sumter, respectively. Although never officially released, former Public Enemy member Flavor Flav’s unissued It’s About Time (1999) includes, as one might expect, a decidedly hard-core rap rendering.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Chicago Transit Authority 1969 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 4:35
At Carnegie Hall, Vols. 1-4 (Chicago IV) 1971 Rhino 9:47
Live in Japan 1972 Rhino 3:52
Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits 1975 Rhino
If You Leave Me Now (And Other Hits) 1983 Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 2:54
No Image 1984 Design 3:07
Beginnings 1985 Charly Records
No Image 1986 Castle Music Ltd.
Group Portrait [4 CD] 1991 Chicago Records Dist. 4:35
Live in Concert 1994 Warlock 6:48
Chicago Live [Public Music] 1995 Public Music
Rock & Roll Festival, Vol. 1 1995
Various Artists
Black Tiger
Overtime 1995 Warner Elektra Atlantic Corp.
Rock Dreams, Vol. 2 [Eclipse Music Group] 1996
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 3:15
Live in Toronto 1996 Magnum 3:05
The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997 1997 Warner Bros. 3:20
The Seventies Generation: 1970 1997
Various Artists
St. Clair / Retro Records 3:18
25 Years of Gold 1998 Import
The Masters: Chicago Live 1998 Eagle Rock / Cleopatra
I'm a Man [Delta] 1999 Hallmark Recordings 3:11
Chicago 1999 Blue Moon 3:07
Beat the Bootleggers: Live 1967 1999 Griffin 3:13
Live! [Columbia River] 1999 Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:09
Best of the Best: 70's Pop & Rock, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Primary Colors 3:21
Rock in Toronto 1999 Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra / Purple Pyramid 3:09
Anthology 1999 Dressed To Kill 3:03
Live '69 2000 Prism Entertainment 3:05
The Heart of Chicago: 1967-1981 2000 Dealmakers 3:20
Best of the 70's [Direct Source 6 CD Box] 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:07
The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning 2002 Rhino / Warner Bros. 3:20
Live 25 or 6 to 4 2002 Prestige Elite Records 3:10
Chicago Story: The Complete Greatest Hits 1967-2002 [2 Disc] 2003 WEA International 3:19
Chicago: The Box [Bonus DVD] 2003 Rhino 3:20
'70s: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O / Interscope 3:19
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:21
The Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition 2007 Rhino 2:45
Flower Power [Time Life Box] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:36
The Very Best of Chicago 2008 Allegro Corporation / Hallmark Recordings / Platinum Legends 3:20
Chicago: Collector's Edition 2009 Madacy 3:21
Original Album Series 2010 Rhino Flashback 4:36
The Ultimate Chicago: Australian Tour Edition 2010 Rhino 3:19
The Collection 2012 Rhino 3:21
September 13th 1969: Recorded Live at the Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival 2014 Cleopatra / Goldenlane / Purple Pyramid 3:09
Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75 2015 Rhino 3:55
Chicago @ Symphony Hall 2015 Chicago Records II 4:52
Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago 2016 Rhino 4:35
Live at the Greek 1978 2017 Zip City 3:32
No Image
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 6:50
No Image Prestige Elite Records 3:10
No Image
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 6:50
No Image
Various Artists
X5 3:10
Live in Concert [DVD] Koch Vision
Terry’s Last Stand Left Field Media 4:03
blue highlight denotes editor's pick