Owens recorded the original version of his song and released it as the B side to the 45 single "I've Got a Tiger By the Tail" in 1964, Capitol 5336, but it failed to reach the music charts. A cover version of "Crying Time" was then recorded by R&B singer Ray Charles, and his version proved to be a hit. Featuring backing vocals by the Jack Halloran Singers and The Raelettes, the song reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1966. Charles' version of the song also peaked at number five on the R&B chart and spent three weeks at number one on the easy listening chart. In the United Kingdom, the song reached number 50 on the British pop chart. In addition, Charles' version of "Crying Time" won two Grammy Awards in 1967, in the categories Best R&B Recording and Best R&B Solo Performance.
Charles intended his version of Owens' song to be a tribute to the country music style he appreciated (Charles had successfully covered other country music songs in the past, such as "I Can't Stop Loving You"). He was quoted as saying that he didn't record "Crying Time" and other country songs written by Owens "out of disrespect [sic] for Buck. I'm crazy about Buck. But I heard something that fit my style. The key was keeping my style while watching my style work in different ways."
|"Crying Time"MENU 0:00 "Crying Time" from the tribute albumHere We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles performed byWynton Marsalis (trumpet), Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar) and Norah Jones (vocals)----|
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Ray Charles and Barbra Streisand performed the song as a duet on her 1973 album Barbra Streisand...And Other Musical Instruments. This cover was featured in the episode, "The Glass Is Always Cleaner", of the NBC drama series Las Vegas. Streisand also included a solo version of the song on her 1974 album ButterFly.
Dutch singer Andre Hazes recorded it for his 1989 blues-album Dit Is Wat Ik Wil (This Is What I Want) as Jammer (It's a pity), a Jan Akkerman-assisted warning for earth-pollution. It was released as a single, backed with a non-translated version of Working in a Coal Mine.
Wanda Jackson and Elvis Costello recorded a version which appears on Jackson's 2003 album Heart Trouble. Connie Francis recorded the song during a 1989 Muscle Shoals session. Victor Wood covered this song in the album Mr. Lonely.