|"As Tears Go By"|
Cover of Dutch single release
|Single by Marianne Faithfull|
|Andrew Loog Oldham|
|Marianne Faithfull singles chronology|
|"As Tears Go By"|
|Single by The Rolling Stones|
|from the album December's Children (And Everybody's)|
|"19th Nervous Breakdown" (UK)|
|"Gotta Get Away" (US)|
|Released||December 1965 (US)|
4 February 1966 (UK)
|Recorded||26 October 1965, IBC Studios, London|
|Andrew Loog Oldham; engineer: Glyn Johns|
|The Rolling Stones US singles chronology|
|The Rolling Stones UK singles chronology|
"As Tears Go By" is a song written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham. It was released as a single by Marianne Faithfull in 1964 and peaked at number 9 in the United Kingdom. The Rolling Stones recorded their own version later, releasing the track in late 1965 on the album December's Children (And Everybody's) and subsequently as a single in North America.
"As Tears Go By" was one of the first original compositions by Jagger and Richards, as until that point The Rolling Stones had chiefly been performing blues standards. A story surrounding the song's genesis has it that Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham locked Jagger and Richards in a kitchen in order to force them to write a song together, even suggesting what type of song he wanted: "I want a song with brick walls all around it, high windows and no sex." The result was initially named "As Time Goes By", the title of the song Dooley Wilson sings in the film Casablanca. It was Oldham who replaced "Time" with "Tears".
We thought, what a terrible piece of tripe. We came out and played it to Andrew [Oldham], and he said 'It's a hit.' We actually sold this stuff, and it actually made money. Mick and I were thinking, this is money for old rope!
It's unclear if the song was written especially for Faithfull or an out-take from the Stones' repertoire. Author Mark Hodkinson writes in his biography "As Tears Go By" that she contradicts herself. "All that stuff about how Mick wrote it for me was awfully nice but untrue" she told Penthouse magazine in 1980, writes Hodkinson. "Ten years later, on the sleeve notes for the Blazing away-album Marianne contradicted herself by referring to the record as "the song that Mick Jagger and Keith Richard wrote for me", concludes Hodkinson.
However, in her own autobiography "Faithfull" (1994) written together with David Dalton, she says ""As Tears Go By was not, contrary to popular folklore, written for me, but it fitted me so perfectly it might as well had been". Originally, the A-side of her first record should have been a song written by Lionel Bart, "I Don'T Know (How To Tell You)". But that song was "awful", she writes. "It was one of those showbiz songs that needed the proper register. My voice was just plain wrong! We did take after agonizing take...but I could not simply do it. In desperation Andrew got me to try the song that originally had been planned for the B-side, As Tears Go By".
Andrew played a demo for her with Mick Jagger singing and Big Jim Sullovan on acoustic guitar. "He handed me a scrawled lyric sheet and I went back into the studio and did it. As soon as I heard the cor anglais playing the opening bars I knew it was going to work. After a couples of takes it was done. Andrew came and gave be a big hug. Congratulations darling. You've got yourself a number six, he said"
She admits that she "was never that crazy about As Tears Go By". "God knows how Mick and Keith wrote it or where it came from...In any case, it is an absolutely astonishing thing for a boy of 20 to have written a song about a woman looking back nostalgically on her life."
Oldham subsequently gave the ballad (a format that the Stones were not yet known for) to Faithfull, then 17, for her to record as a B-side. The success of the recording caused the record company, Decca, to switch the song to an A-side, where it became a very popular single. The melody features a distinctive oboe line. The demo had Mick Jagger singing and Big Jim Sullivan playing 12-string guitar. It reached no. 9 in the British charts and launched Faithfull's career as a major singer. The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 in America the week ending 28 November 1964, where it stayed for nine weeks peaking at no. 22. In Canada, the song peaked at no. 2 on the RPM charts. Faithfull also performed the song on the television show Hullabaloo, in the segment presented by Beatles manager Brian Epstein from London.
It is sometimes said that the song was written as an answer to the Beatles' "Yesterday", a strings-driven ballad that became one of the band's biggest hits in 1965. However, this is false: "As Tears Go By" was written at least one year before "Yesterday"'s parent album, Help!, was even released. However, the Rolling Stones may have been influenced by "Yesterday'"s particular arrangement. The Rolling Stones changed the arrangement from Faithful's 1964 version to one that more closely resembled the arrangement of "Yesterday", which may have been intentional given that the new arrangement was recorded while the Beatles' song was topping charts all over the world, including the US Billboard Hot 100. Marianne Faithful's 1964 version of "As Tears Go By" features percussion and strings throughout; the Rolling Stones' version completely lacks percussion and opens with acoustic guitar followed by strings entering in the second verse, just as in "Yesterday".
The Rolling Stones recorded their own version of "As Tears Go By" in 1965. This recording is notable for its heavy string arrangement by Mike Leander. It was one of the three songs (including "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "19th Nervous Breakdown") that the band performed live during their third appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was released as a single in December 1965 by their North American record label, London Records, due to popular demand after radio DJs across the country started playing it from the band's recently released album December's Children (And Everybody's). It peaked at #6 on the American Billboard Charts, and at #10 on the Billboard Easy Listening charts, years before the seemingly more wholesome Beatles would see their first entry. The song was later released in the UK in 1966 as the B-side to the single, "19th Nervous Breakdown".
The song was performed live on tour for the first time in November 2005 on the Stones' A Bigger Bang Tour. A performance from the 2006 leg of the tour was captured for the 2008 concert film Shine a Light and the accompanying soundtrack album. On 11 July in Milan the Stones performed the song with the Italian lyrics. The song was performed as a duet between Jagger and Taylor Swift on 3 June 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, for the band's 50 & Counting tour.