The time has come today for the Rolling Stones to introduce the 1966 song “Out of Time” into their setlist. Improbable as it may seem, given how often the song has been covered by others or licensed for the movies, the band had never performed the tune live until it showed up at the Stones’ European tour opening Wednesday night in Madrid, Spain.
There was a rumor the song might show up, as eavesdroppers on tour rehearsals had heard the Stones trying out “Out of Time,” although there are typically rarities that they test during rehearsal periods that seldom or never make it onto a tour. So its actual appearance at the Metropolitano Stadium opener was considered a blessed event indeed.
Given the enduring popularity of the song among fans, some might assume it was released as a single in ’66, but that wasn’t the case after it first appeared as an “Aftermath” album cut. It was a quickie cover version by British artist Chris Farlowe — produced by Mick Jagger (with Jimmy Page on guitar)— that reached No. 1 in the U.K. later in 1966; that cover never cracked the Hot 100 in America.
In 1975, a Stones version of the song was finally belatedly released as a single, albeit as it appeared in a different, patched-together form on the “Metamorphosis” compilation album put out by Allen Klein after the band was out from under his auspices. That version of the song used the backing track from the Jagger-produced Farlowe single of 1966 and featured the demo vocal Jagger recorded to guide Farlowe. But, as a single, this new creation wasn’t a hit — it peaked at No. 45 in the U.K. and No. 81 in the U.S.
So why do people imagine the Stones had a big hit with it? Beyond the fact that it’s a strong enough kiss-off that it could have been a smash, the song has been licensed a decent amount over the years for “end of an era” usage in films and TV.
In Hal Ashby’s post-Vietnam drama “Coming Home” in 1978, it was used over the opening credits, a montage that mixes footage of veterans in rehabilitation with shots of the Bruce Dern character jogging on the beach, suggesting that he may be the one who’s run out of time. The song reappeared over the end credits.
Much more recently, Quentin Tarantino had the entire “Metamorphosis” version play out late in the running time of 2019’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” at the start of a sort of epilogue sequence that has Leonardo DiCaprio’s character returning from a long sojourn filming overseas, with a new, counterculture look.
Although the Stones never collectively considered it worthy of a live airing until 2022, that hasn’t stopped other artists from performing it. According to setlist.fm, it has been performed by Elvis Costello, with and without the Imposters, at least 47 times, and was included on the 2011 live album “The Return of the Spectacular Singing Songbook.” (Costello sang it on tour as recently as last year.) Van Morrison is also listed as having sung it in concert at least 12 times. On record, it’s been covered by the Ramones, among others — compare the Costello and Ramones versions, below.