Brook Benton, Belford Hendricks and Clyde Otis established themselves as a songwriting team in the late 1950s, penning hits for Nat King Cole ("Looking Back") and Clyde McPhatter ("A Lover's Question"). During one songwriting session, Benton expressed frustration that they were not hitting on any good ideas, to which Otis replied, "It's just a matter of time, Brook". Those words inspired them to write a love song from the point of view of a man who misses his love, but believes she will come back to him.
Benton and Otis placed the song on a demo tape for Cole, and he agreed to record it. However, Otis became an A&R manager at Mercury Records, and signed Benton to the label. Otis felt that "It's Just A Matter Of Time" would be an ideal single for Benton, and he asked Cole not to record the song so it could be Benton's first release on the label.Belford Hendricks, a classically trained composer, co-wrote and arranged the recording. Benton's version, in a style clearly influenced by Cole, was a quick success, rising to number three on the Billboard pop charts while topping the R&B chart for 9 weeks in the spring of 1959, the longest run atop the chart of any song that year. On April 12, during the song's chart run, Benton made his national television debut, singing the song on The Ed Sullivan Show. While Benton had had one previous minor hit ("A Million Miles From Nowhere"), this success established him to the public, leading to a continuous string of hits through 1962, and occasional success thereafter.
The first cover version that became a country hit was recorded by Sonny James; his version spent four weeks atop the Billboard magazineHot Country Singles chart in February 1970. The song was James' 10th in a string of 16 consecutive chart-topping single releases, spanning from 1967-1971.
In 1985, Glen Campbell — at the time on the roster of Atlantic America Records — recorded his version and released it as a single. His version peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in February 1986.
Randy Travis became the third country artist to find success with the song. Released in August 1989 as the lead-off single to the album No Holdin' Back, Travis' version became his 10th No. 1 hit on the BillboardHot Country Singles chart.
Travis' bluesy rendition was initially recorded as part of the album Rock, Rhythm & Blues, a 10-song compilation featuring covers of 1950s-era pop hits by 1980s stars. The song was later included on No Holdin' Back after Travis and others liked what they had just recorded.:570