Night Time Is the Right Time

"Night Time Is the Right Time" or "The Right Time" is a rhythm and blues song recorded by American musician Nappy Brown in 1957. It draws on earlier blues songs and has inspired many subsequent versions, including hits by Ray Charles, Rufus and Carla, and James Brown.

"The Right Time"
Single by Nappy Brown
Released 1957 (1957)
  • 10-inch 78 rpm
  • 7-inch 45 rpm
Recorded New York, October 1, 1957
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 3:02
Label Savoy
Songwriter(s) See text
Nappy Brown singles chronology
"Bye Bye Baby" / "Goody-Goody-Gum Drop"
"The Right Time" / "Oh, You Don't Know"
"If You Need Some Lovin'" / "I'm in the Mood"

Earlier songs

Blues pianist Roosevelt Sykes (listed as "the Honey Dripper") recorded "Night Time Is the Right Time" in 1937.[1] Called "one of his 'hits' of the day",[2] it is a moderate-tempo twelve-bar blues that features Sykes on vocal and piano. It has been suggested that it was "drawn from the old vaudeville tradition":[3]

Now I want you to tell me, mama after I sing this song
Can I take you with me tonight darlin', and hold you in my arms
Because night time is the right time, to be with the one you love, with the one you love

In 1938, Big Bill Broonzy recorded the song with slightly different (and more suggestive) lyrics.[4] The same year, Roosevelt Sykes recorded a second version titled "Night Time Is the Right Time #2",[5] also with slightly different lyrics. These earliest recordings of "Night Time Is the Right Time" are credited to Roosevelt Sykes and Leroy Carr. Although Carr died in 1935 without any known recordings of the song, "Night Time Is The Right Time" bears considerable similarity to Carr's "When The Sun Goes Down". The latter was phenomenally popular song at this time, having been covered by the Ink Spots and also serving as a model for "Love In Vain" by Robert Johnson.[6]

Nappy Brown song

In 1957, Nappy Brown recorded the song as "The Right Time".[7] Called "a highlight of Brown's early career",[8] his version features additional lyrics with background singers answering his vocal lines. The instrumental accompaniment is provided by Buster Cooper on trombone, Hilton Jefferson on alto sax, Budd Johnson on tenor sax, Kelly Owens on piano, Skeeter Best on guitar, Leonard Gaskin on bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums. Brown's song opens with

You know the night time (ba-do-day), is the right time (ba-do-day)
To be (ba-do-day), with the one you love (ba-do-day)

Brown's version did not reach the national record charts,[9] but was "borrowed by Ray Charles in short order".[8] During his career, Brown recorded several versions of the song (sometimes varying the title). His original single lists the songwriter as "N. Brown".

Ray Charles version

Ray Charles recorded his version, titled "(Night Time Is) The Right Time", in October 1958. According to Brown, "The difference between me and Ray Charles's ‘Night Time Is the Right Time' ... is he had it up-tempo with Mary Ann and them behind him—the ladies [Charles' female backup singers, the Raelettes]. I had mine in a slow tempo with a gospel group behind me. That was my gospel group. But he got everything just like mine, note for note".[10] Margie Hendrix with Charles' backup singers the Raelettes provided the accompaniment to Charles' vocals. The song became a hit in 1959, when it reached number five in the Billboard R&B chart and number 95 in the pop chart.[9] The song is included on the albums Ray Charles at Newport and The Genius Sings the Blues, and on the soundtrack of Ray.

James Brown version

James Brown recorded the song for the small Churchill/Augusta record label. It was released in 1983 as the B-side of his single "Bring It On...Bring It On". Brown's version (subtitled "To be With the One That You Love") went on to reach number 73 in the Billboard R&B chart.[9] Robert Christgau reviewed Brown's version favorably, singling out for praise the contribution of its unidentified female guest vocalist, "a Brownette who approaches any kind of note as if she owns it."[11]


  1. Decca Records 7324
  2. Demetre, Jacques; Waterhouse, Don (1994). The Prewar Blues Story (Liner notes). Various artists. Best of Blues Records. p. 25. BoB 20.
  3. Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Night Time Is the Right Time". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 463. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
  4. Vocalion Records 4149
  5. Decca 7438
  6. "Leory Carr – All Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  7. Savoy 1525
  8. Dahl, Bill (1996). Erlewine, Michael, ed. Nappy Brown. All Music Guide to the Blues. Miller Freeman Books. pp. 35–36. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.
  9. Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research. pp. 61, 81. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
  10. Tomko, Gene (March 2008). "The Right Time for Nappy Brown". Charlotte Magazine. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  11. "CG: James Brown". Robert Christgau. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
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