♫ As Tears Go By ♫ (Redux)

I have only played this once, three years ago, so it should still be “like-new”, yes?


This song was written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham, and 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.”

In a 1992 interview with Guitar Player magazine, Keith Richards said:

“… suddenly, ‘Oh, we’re songwriters,’ with the most totally anti-Stones sort of song you could think of at the time, while we’re trying to make a good version of (Muddy Waters’) ‘Still A Fool.’ When you start writing, it doesn’t matter where the first one comes from. You’ve got to start somewhere, right? So Andrew locked Mick and myself into a kitchen in this horrible little apartment we had. He said, ‘You ain’t comin’ out,’ and there was no way out. We were in the kitchen with some food and a couple of guitars, but we couldn’t get to the john, so we had to come out with a song. In his own little way, that’s where Andrew made his great contribution to the Stones. That was such a flatulent idea, a fart of an idea, that suddenly you’re gonna lock two guys in a room, and they’re going to become songwriters. Forget about it. And it worked. In that little kitchen Mick and I got hung up about writing songs …”

And per Mick Jagger …

“I wrote the lyrics, and Keith wrote the melody. It’s a very melancholy song for a 21-year-old to write: The evening of the day, watching children play – it’s very dumb and naive, but it’s got a very sad sort of thing about it, almost like an older person might write. You know, it’s like a metaphor for being old: You’re watching children playing and realizing you’re not a child. It’s a relatively mature song considering the rest of the output at the time. And we didn’t think of doing it, because the Rolling Stones were a butch Blues group. But Marianne Faithfull’s version was already a big, proven hit song… It was one of the first things I ever wrote.” 

The song was first recorded by Marianne Faithfull in 1964, and a year later the Stones recorded their own version.  I prefer the Stones version, but I understand that Faithfull’s was more popular in the UK, so I offer both here.  First, The Rolling Stones …

And then, Marianne Faithfull …

As Tears Go By
The Rolling Stones

It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Smiling faces I can see
But not for me
I sit and watch
As tears go by

My riches can’t buy everything
I want to hear the children sing
All I hear is the sound
Of rain falling on the ground
I sit and watch
As tears go by

It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Doing things I used to do
They think are new
I sit and watch
As tears go by

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Andrew Loog Oldham / Keith Richards / Mick Jagger
As Tears Go By lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management, T.R.O. Inc.

26 thoughts on “♫ As Tears Go By ♫ (Redux)

  1. I loved the Marianne Faithfull version, which went top ten over here. I think it was more popular here than the Stones version was because theirs was only a B-side to 19th Nervous Breakdown, not a single in its own right. Their original recorded version is more delicate than the later live version, too. Either way, it’s a lovely song, from one of my favourite bands. Did you know she was Mick Jagger’s girlfriend for a couple of years? What you definitely won’t know is that her uncle was a doctor in Dover, where I was born and brought up, at the time her career took off. The local paper was beside itself!

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    • I didn’t know the Stones’ version was only a B-side over there! I did read that Marianne Faithful’s version was much more popular in the UK … perhaps that explains why. No, I had no idea she and Mick Jagger were an item at one time, nor did I know about her uncle! I can imagine that was the talk of the town at the time! Thanks, Clive … I always enjoy your insights!

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      • I think it probably does explain it. It has only been on compilation albums here, too, not on one of their regular albums. I rank their early version very highly – alongside Lady Jane it was proof that they could do ‘beautiful’ as well as tearing the walls down. And you’re welcome to the background gossip 😂

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    • I don’t know that it went #1 in Canada, but it was released as an A side, and helped cement the Stones as stars in Canada.
      That is probably why I prefer the recording not played here, the 1966 Stones’ original recording. Marianne Faithfull’s version was a touch too up-tempo for me. It did not make me cry.

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      • I guess they didn’t need their star status enhancing here by then! I still love both versions, they have a slightly different feel. Do you know Lady Jane by the Stones? It’s in similar vein, and equally beautiful.

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        • How can one not know Lady Jane? It was at the height of their popularity. As was Ruby Tuesday, later covered by Melanie. But then, that was long ago. You didn’t have to be there, but it helps to know someone who was. 10,000 Light Years from Home is another that gets no airplay anymore. It is almost like their longevity is hurting some of their best music, in my opinion.

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          • Not everyone does! It’s like you say, their early stuff is often overlooked nowadays, apart from the biggest hits. There have been some good covers of their songs: as well as Melanie, Linda Ronstadt’s Tumbling Dice springs to mind. And it’s great to see some of them being revisited by newer artists: Molly Tuttle did a lovely version last year of She’s A Rainbow. Good music always stays the course.

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  2. I like both, but also prefer the Stone’s over Marianne Faithful’s version. A great song! I didn’t know who wrote the song. That was a surprise! Hope you’re having a good day! Thanks for sharing!
    Love & Hugs from Your Soul Sister! 💙

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    • I’m having a decent day, despite no sleep last night. The sun is shining, it’s 71° out, I have the windows open, and there are squirrels and birdies playing on my back patio. Who could ask for anything more, right? Love ‘n hugs to you, dear Soul Sister!

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