Time After Time (After Time, After Time)
As I write this, a rock band called Quietdrive has reached the Top 100 of the iTunes singles chart with its version of "Time After Time."
Yes, that "Time After Time." The one that was first a hit for Cyndi Lauper in June 1984. (Back then, I told my parents I was going to marry her. I was only 5 1/2, but I knew what I knew. I also knew that I loved watching Boy George on MTV, so draw your own conclusions.)
In between Lauper and Quietdrive, a dance singer named Inoj ("i-know-jay") reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 with her club-friendly remake. Remember it? It's most notable for sounding just like the dance covers of "Heaven" and "Listen to Your Heart."
But that's not all. Wikipedia reports that "Time After Time" has been recorded at least 120 times. Dizzamn!
Obviously, none of us will listen to 120 versions of the exact same song. Unless, of course, we own several Nickelback albums. Boo-yah!
But seriously... in the interest of time-saving, I'd like to narrow the field to the top five versions of "Time After Time." My findings are based on my life experience and the clips I felt like listening to on iTunes, so I wouldn't call this an exhaustively researched list. But it's good enough for government work. Boo-yah!
The All-Time "Time After Times"
(1) Cyndi Lauper's original. Obviously, right? If Cyndi hadn't recorded and co-written such an awesome song, 120 other people wouldn't have cared about it. And don't even pretend like you can surpass her video, in which her boyfriend can't handle her crazy 80s hair.
(2) Eva Cassidy's version Do y'all know bout her? If not, you should really seek out her music. She has the most astonishing voice--the kind of voice that can make her version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" feel as definitive as Judy Garland's--and her technique could melt your heart. Famously, her music didn't gain widespread recognition until after she died of cancer in 1996. She was only 33 at the time, but she still was able to record dozens of songs, including her haunting take on "Time After Time." That's a great gift to the rest of us.
(3) Willie Nelson's version I can't find a full version of Willie's "TAT" online, but I highly recommend you seek out a sample. It's on his 2002 album "The Great Divide," and it really, really rules. I've already espoused Mr. Nelson's awesomeness, and this song proves my point all over again.
"The Great Divide" caught some flak for sounding too adult contemporary to be considered a "true" Willie album, but I think it marks an interesting side trip in his career. Why complain about a record that can make "Time After Time" sound haunting in a new way? Nelson's talk-sung vocal is buffeted by a backing track that reminds me of outer space... all electric instruments and angelic backup singers. Those might seem like odd ingredients, but the result is superb.
(4) Tuck and Patti's version I have a soft spot for this married folk duo because my high school friend Jessica really liked them. We both got emotional over their work, in the same way that we got destroyed by Immortal Beloved. Nowadays, we're better at noticing when earnestness turns into cheese, but it's fun to remember a time when we weren't.
(5) Inoj's version What can I say? I'm a sucker for a dreamy house beat. I like those covers of "Heaven" and "Listen to Your Heart," too.
Special Bonus Treat!
(BONUS) "Time After Time" by Japanese girl-group Earth
Okay, so this isn't the "Time After Time" written by Cyndi Lauper, but sometimes you have to celebrate what a YouTube keyword search provides. The song itself sounds like any other widget created by the pop machine, but the music isn't the point. The joy comes from the English subtitles running at the bottom of the video.
For instance, take a moment to whisper the following phrases out loud: "The falling rain landed on a transparent umbrella/It felt like the same sparkling childhood dream."
I'll let you experience the rest for yourselves...