89: Time Marches On

89: Time Marches On

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Time Marches On

Story by Bobby Braddock

Song written by Bobby Braddock

Recorded by Tracy Lawrence

“Time Marches On” was a huge record for me. It’s probably already a little dated. It was timely when I wrote it because it was about the people who were going through those transformations around 1996. The people that started out as hippie kids were starting to get old then and they’re a whole lot older now!

When I was a kid in a small town in Florida, a lot of the country people moved up north looking for work. And by the time I wrote that song, there were people from the North moving down into the area to retire. So that’s where the line “the South moves north, the North moves south” came from.

We were at a family reunion once and my ex-wife’s sister had a bumper sticker on the back of her car that said, “Sexy Grandma.” I thought that was pretty funny, so I put that in the song, too.

I thought the songs that were mentioned in each verse reflected the time periods: Hank Williams for the 1950s and Dylan for the 1960s, and then back to Hank again. I decided to add the B-3 organ lick right after the line “Dylan sings ‘like a rolling stone’” on the demo because it sounds like what he did on that song. They decided to keep it on Tracy’s record. Of course, on Dylan’s, it wasn’t in a minor key, but it falls in a minor on “Time Marches On,” so it sounds a little different, but it’s still the same lick. I also used a Don Helms-style pedal-less steel guitar lick on the Hank Williams line, but they didn’t use that on the record.

On my demo, Brent Rowan played that little acoustic thing that sounds like a clock ticking at the beginning of the song. Then Brent Mason played on the record. They are two of the best session players in town, but it’s kind of ironic that Brent Mason got credit for playing a Brent Rowan lick.

Tracy just had a hit with my “Texas Tornado,” and I played the song for Don Cook, his producer, and he liked it. I think Tracy had already heard it somewhere and liked it anyway, so that’s how he decided to cut it. Tracy did a great job on it. He sang it with a lot of conviction, even though he was too young to really have gone through much of that.

There was a major artist that is really hot today — I won’t say who — who heard it and he passed on it. When he heard Tracy’s song, he asked his producer, “Why didn’t I get to listen to that?” His producer said, “Well, you did. You passed.” So that goes to show that sometimes an artist will hear a song differently in different situations.

Time Marches On

Sister cries out, from her baby bed.

Brother runs in with feathers on his head.

Mama’s in her room learning how to sew.

Daddy’s drinking beer, listenin’ to the radio.

Hank Williams sings “Kaw-Liga” and “Dear John”

Time marches on, time marches on.

Sister’s using rouge and clear complexion soap.

Brother’s wearing beads and he smokes alot of dope.

Mama is depressed, barely makes a sound.

Daddy’s got a girlfriend in another town.

Bob Dylan sings “like a rolling stone.”

Time marches on, time marches on.


South moves north, North moves south

A star is born, a star burns out.

The only thing that stays the same is everything

changes, everything changes.

Sister calls herself a sexy grandma.

Brother’s on a diet for high cholesterol.

Mama’s out of touch with reality.

Daddy’s in the ground beneath the maple tree.

As the angels sing an old Hank Williams song.

Time marches on, time marches on.

Time marches on, time marches on.

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