Several other songs from Odessey and Oracle were released as singles prior to "Time of the Season". Columbia Records supported the album and its singles at the urging of new A&R Rep,Al Kooper. One of the singles was the uncommercial sounding "Butcher's Tale", which Columbia thought might catch on as an anti-war statement, at the time a popular trend. "Time of the Season" was only released at Kooper's urging, after previous singles flopped, and made its breakthrough in early 1969, over a year after the band split up. It reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March and #1 in Canada. It did not chart in the band's native Britain, although in mid-1969 it peaked at #2 on the South African hit parade.
The song's characteristics include the unique voice of lead singer Colin Blunstone, the memorable bass riff (which is similar to Ben E. King's hit "Stand By Me"), and Rod Argent's fast-pacedpsychedelic improvisation. The lyrics are an archetypical depiction of the emotions surrounding the Summer of Love. It is famous for such call-and-response verses as "What's your name? (What's your name?) / Who's your daddy? (Who's your daddy?) / Is he rich? (Is he rich like me?)" approximately 50 seconds into the track. Both stereo and monaural original releases contain vocal responses.
In 1998, Big Beat Records released a CD reissue of Odessey and Oracle containing both the original stereo and mono versions of "Time of The Season". It also featured a newly remixed alternate version containing instrumental backing underneath the vocals during the entire chorus. These instrumental backings had been mixed out on the original 1968 stereo and mono versions to create a cappella vocal sections.
Music critic Antonio Mendez called it one of the sublime songs on Odessey and Oracle.
"Time of The Season" is frequently used in pop culture to represent the late 1960s. In that sense, it is featured in the films 1969, Awakenings, A Walk on the Moon and Riding the Bullet, all of which depict the year of 1969. "Time of the Season" is played in the background of The Simpsons episode "D'oh-in In the Wind", in which Homer decides to follow the footsteps of his mother and become a hippie. In the South Park episodes "The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka" and "201" it is used in flashback scenes portraying the Vietnam War. It was also featured in the 2005 film Dear Wendy, it is also referenced in the final words of Dick's letter addressed to Wendy. The song was also featured on the HBO series, Big Love.
The NBC series American Dreams, which depicts the mid and late 1960s in American society, featured the song in its third season episode "So Long, Farewell". "Tell Her No" and "She's Not There", The Zombies' other major hits in the U.S., were also used in the show; the latter were included in the series' soundtrack.
It is also common for the song to appear in romantic scenes, as in the aforementioned film 1969. In the Friends episode "The One With the Flashback", the song is played in a dream sequence where Rachel fantasizes about Chandler. In the final scene of the Will and Grace episode "Marry Me A Little", it is used to represent Grace's joy after marrying Leo.
"Time of the Season" is also featured in a scene of the 1999 NBC miniseries The '60s. The song's usage in this particular scene was anachronistic, however, since it was supposed to portray 1965. The same is true of the film Shanghai Knights, which is supposed to depict 1887.
"Time of the Season" has been featured in several TV commercials, such as a 1999 Tampax ad set at the Woodstock Festival, a 2005 Fidelity Investments commercial, a 2006 ad for Sprite (in which a chorus of flowers with human faces performs an a cappella version of the song, a 2006 ad for Magners Irish Cider, and a 2008 Crest ad in Mexico. It was also used in the advertising campaigns of Nissan Tiida in Japan (2004), Greece (2007), and Russia (2008).
In sports, it was featured in "Free Your Mind", the 16th video in the Transworld Skateboarding series. During the 2006 playoffs, the song was played in Shea Stadium as the home-team New York Mets took the field.
The song appears in the movie The Debt released in the U.S. in August 2011.
The song is regularly played with a psychedelic video at Las Vegas' Fremont Street Experience on a four-block long Viva Vision overhead screen with a 500,000 watt sound system, the video titled Signs of Life.
The song was played during the 2013 supernatural horror movie The Conjuring.
In 1969, Thyme covered "Time of the Season" for A-Square records. The Guess Who also covered it.
Argent released a live version from a 1974 concert on their 1976 compilation album The Argent Anthology: A Collection of Greatest Hits.
Brent Bourgeois covered "Time of the Season" on his eponymous self-titled album in 1990. In 1997, "Time of the Season" was recorded by Kurt Elling and Cassandra Wilson for Elling's second album The Messenger. In the following year, The Scofflaws released an instrumental cover of the song on their fourth album "Record of Conviction". In 1999, Big Blue Missile and Scott Weiland recorded the song for the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
In 2001, it was recorded by Larry Goldings for Goldings' ninth album As One. In 2003, Ben Taylor recorded the song for his album Famous Among the Barns, which later featured on the soundtrack and opening sequence of the horror film Prom Night (2008). In 2005, The Guess Who released a cover of the song in the compilation album Let's Go. Dave Matthews Band had the song on the CD/DVD Weekend on the Rocks (2005) and Live Trax Vol. 9 (2007). In 2006,Sage Francis covered the song for his live album Dead Poet Live Album. In March 20, 2007, it was performed by Blake Lewis, the runner-up on the sixth season of American Idol. Its studio version was released on the show's official website and later included on his eponymous EP, as well as in the Season 6 compilation album. Also in 2007, it was recorded by Tommy Shaw (of Styx) and Jack Blades (of Night Ranger) for their album Influence.