“I know what came out of mouth was ‘American Woman, stay away from me.’ But really and truly I didn’t sit down and concoct some political, anti-war message. That was never, never the case and yet it did get banned in a few places.”
Burton Cummings on the writing of “American Woman”
Music and Lyrics: Randy Bachman & Burton Cummings
Producer: Jack Richardson
There are two versions of “No Time.” The original recording was done for the band’s album, “Canned Wheat” and the re-recording featured on the “Americal Woman” album. The latter was released as a single and is the better-known version. It has a slightly faster tempo and two verses transposed. It peaked at #5 in the U.S. and was the third in a string of certified gold singles that all hit #1 in Canada.
Bachman: Cummings and I grew up with—not in the shadow of, but parallel shadows to—Neil Young. He was in Winnipeg at the same time as us. He had a competing band, Neil Young and the Squires.
Burton Cummings was in The Devrons and I was in The Guess Who. Cummings and I worked together when Cummings joined The Guess Who. And there was always Neil Young who had this strange way of playing guitar and singing and writing these offbeat, but very Dylan kind of lyrics, very colorful lyrics.
I remember us leaving town and coming back and telling Neil that there was life outside of Winnipeg. Because a lot of guys were afraid to leave their hometown, where you’re playing a community center or church every night. You’re making more money than your father makes. Just little jobs.
I remember Neil Young saying he was going to leave town and try to make it big; did anyone want to go with him? And he went to Fender Bay or Port Arthur. And after devastation there, he went to L.A. and met Steven Stills and all those guys who became Buffalo Springfield.
So, Neil Young brought his first act to take back to Winnipeg to play for Cummings and I, and a local DJ whose name was Doc Steve. We went and heard this wonderful music. And he was explaining it was done in 8-track. Because up to that point we’d only recorded in 3-track or mono.
And 8-track meant you could overdub guitars. And he played us this stuff with him and Steven Stills doing this guitar back and forth. I was just totally enchanted by all that. So somehow, “No Time” came from us trying to emulate Buffalo Springfield.
It was our country-rock thing. The vocals in “No Time” we were trying to do what Neil and Buffalo Springfield were doing, which by now I think they’d had their second album out.
There was a guitar riff on the song Steven Stills wrote called “Hung Upside Down”, and I took that and inverted it or reversed it, and that became part of that signature guitar line. Part of it was mine, the beginning part. But the second part where it goes up high is the same kind of riff from “Hung Upside Down.” We just did the most Buffalo Springfield lyrics we could do.
Cummings: “No Time”? Probably my favorite Guess Who song of all, and I’ll tell you why. Up until then, we had “These Eyes,” and “Laughing,” and then “Undun” was the flip side of “Laughing.” That became a two-sided hit record. Those are all pretty good songs, but they’re all soft.
When “No Time” came out, from that point on, we started getting taken a little more seriously, I think, as a rock n’ roll band. We were branded a ‘Bubble Gum Band;’ three and half minute love songs. But then “No Time” came out and everything changed. Rolling Stone started calling us ‘A brilliant maverick band.’ And I remember the fan club got bigger and the venues we were playing got bigger, the crowds got bigger. Everything took a huge step upwards after “No Time.”
I always liked “No Time.” It was a guitar record. There was no piano on it. I played guitar on the original record and I wasn’t even a guitar player. But Randy was forcing me to learn to play rhythm guitar and that was, bless his heart, that’s another thing I’m eternally grateful [for]. I wouldn’t be able to play guitar if he hadn’t forced me to learn as a teenager.