“Right Time of the Night,” released in 1976, was all about firsts. It was the first hit by songwriter Peter McCann. It was artist Jennifer Warnes’ first hit single. And the record was Jim Ed Norman’s first production. But from the producer’s point of view, the road to the success of this career-changing song was quite rocky.
Before producing “Right Time,” Norman recalls, he was working as a tape copy boy and a sometimes string arranger and side musician in the studio for The Eagles, when the assistant in the tape copy room told him there was a call for him from Clive Davis. He thought it was a joke. He said, ‘Yeah, right,’ and kept on working. Seeing the blinking light on the telephone persist, he finally picked it up and said, ‘Yeah?’
“Is this Jim Ed Norman?” “Yeah.” “This is Clive Davis.” “Yeah, right.” “It really is. I got your name from Hank and Dave.” Davis had heard of Norman from producers Hank Medress and Dave Appell, with whom Norman had worked on an album for the Group With No Name.
“‘Hank and Dave said you want to be a record producer. Is that true?’” Davis said, according to Norman, who responded, “Yes I do, I want to be a record producer.”
They met, and Davis played Norman several songs. Norman wasn’t wild about most of them until he heard “Right Time of the Night.” “If you’re going to give me a chance to make a record for you, let it be with that song,” he told Davis.
The song had been written by McCann, who was then signed to a publishing deal with ABC. McCann told The Tennessean in a 2015 interview that the song was inspired by a beautiful day spent on the beach in Malibu. “It was one of those perfect sunsets,” McCann said in the article. “I was there for the entire eveni