November 21

A Hit of Sonny James from 1970, “It’s Just a Matter of Time”

This song was originally written and a hit of Brook Benton whose real name was Benjamin Franklin Peay. His American pop audiences knew him better as Brook Benton. He was born in Camden, South Carolina in 1931. Benton learned to sing with a local gospel group and started working at age 12, delivering milk. After moving to New York, he pushed carts of clothing through the city’s garment district and then became a truck driver, all the while writing songs on the side.

“It’s Just A Matter Of Time” became Benton’s breakthrough composition. His recording of the tune became the first of his eight R&B singles crossover to the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart through 1970.

Several of Brook Benton’s songs would resurface on the country charts in later years through new versions by country artists. Don Williams took “The Ties That Bind” to No. 5 in 1974 and Hank Williams, Jr. went to No. 13 that same year with “Rainy Night In Georgia.” But the first cover of a Benton tune came with Sonny James’ remake of “It’s Just A Matter Of Time.”

Benton had gained his first inspiration for the song in his sleep and, amazingly, retained the idea after awakening the next morning. He told his producer, Clyde Otis, about it and soon afterward the two men teamed with Belford Hendricks to flesh out the composition. Benton’s record was a massive hit, reaching No. 1 on his mainstay R&B chart while escalating all the way to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1959.

More than ten years later, “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” became Sonny James’ tenth consecutive number one country hit. At the time, Sonny had scored big with several recent uptempo numbers and was looking for a ballad, something that would fully utilize his trademark lick on the guitar. He found it with the Brook Benton oldie “It’s Just A Matter Of Time.”

One week before Sonny’s record debuted on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart, he performed the song on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” January 11, 1970, and again on “Hee Haw” ten days later. Beginning February 14, 1970, James occupied the top position for four weeks with “It’s Just A Matter Of Time.” Ironically, the last week that the record stayed at number one, Brook Benton peaked for the final time on the pop chart with his No. 4 hit “A Rainy Night In Georgia.”

Nineteen years after Sonny James’ version of “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” came out Randy Travis had signed on to a “various artists” project called “Rock, Rhythm & Blues,” a ten-song compilation featuring covers of 1950s-era pop hits by 1980s stars. Travis, the only country artist to participate on the album, chose “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” as his contributing song.

” Randy’s cut of “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” turned out remarkably well, far better than expected.”

Working with pop producer Richard Perry, Randy’s cut of “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” turned out remarkably well, far better than expected. It was so good that his label, Warner Bros., elected to also include the track Travis’s forthcoming album “No Holdin’ Back,” and release it as a single as well. A smart move, because, even though Randy told interviewers, “This is the closest thing to pop you’re ever going to get from me,” his version of “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” soared to #1 on December 2, 1989, marking Travis’s tenth number one record.


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