As Tears Go By

Album: December's Children (And Everybody's) (1965)
Charted: 6


  • This was one of the first songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The Stones manager, Andrew Oldham, gave it to a singer he also managed named Marianne Faithfull, who released it in 1964. It was going to be the B-side of her first single, but the record company decided to make it the A-side and it became her first hit. The Stones recorded it a year later. Faithfull became Mick Jagger's girlfriend in 1966. Their tumultuous relationship ended 3 years later. In that time, she helped write "Sister Morphine" and gave Jagger the book that inspired "Sympathy For The Devil."
  • 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 it still took us another six months before we had another hit with Gene Pitney, 'That Girl Belongs To Yesterday.' We were writing these terrible Pop songs that were becoming Top-10 hits. I thought, 'What are we doing here playing the f--king blues, and writing these horrible Pop songs and getting very successful?' They had nothing to do with us, except we wrote 'em. And it took us a while to come up with 'The Last Time.' That was the first one we came up with where Mick and I said, 'This is one we can lay on the guys.' At the time we were already borrowing songs from the Beatles - 'I Wanna Be Your Man' - because we were really hard up for singles. So they gave us a hand. In retrospect, during the '60s the Stones and the Beatles were almost the same band, because we were the only ones in that position." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The original title was "As Time Goes By." It was changed to avoid confusion with the song from Casablanca.
  • Mick Jagger (1995): "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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • When Mick and Keith wrote this, The Stones were still playing mostly Blues covers at their shows. This did not fit their raucous image, but it established The Stones as a band that could pull off the occasional ballad.
  • Jagger sang and Keith Richards played acoustic guitar over a string arrangement. No other Stones performed on the song.
  • The strings were arranged by Mike Leander, who did The Beatles "She's Leaving Home."
  • This was released as a single in the US because ballads were popular there at the time. The release in England was delayed 6 months because they did not want to compete with "Yesterday" by The Beatles. When they finally did release it there, it was as the B-side of "19th Nervous Breakdown."
  • Mick Jagger told The Independent in 2001: "I sang about children then. I wrote that song when I was 20. It was reflective - though they weren't my children at that point (laughs)." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Along with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "19th Nervous Breakdown," this was one of three songs The Stones performed on their February 13, 1966 Ed Sullivan Show appearance, which was the first time they appeared in color on a US broadcast.
  • In 2006 in Milan, the Rolling Stones played this live as "Con Le Mie Lacrime." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 24

  • Greg from Millheim, PaIf you imagine Yesterday played and sung one step higher, in the key of G, you'll find that the melody and chord progression of "I believe in yesterday" is almost identical to "It is the evening of the day", etc., from As Tears Go By. Clearly McCartney borrowed from ATGB for that particular part of his brilliant Yesterday, although he has never, to my knowledge, acknowledged doing so. He almost certainly was familiar with the Marianne Faithfull version. The Stones, in turn, borrowed the spare acoustic guitar-and-string quartet arrangement idea from Yesterday for their own later recording of ATGB. One other thing worth mentioning is the stunning ingenuity of these novice young songwriters (Jagger and Richards), who weren't even really interested in ballads, when they built a great melody around a major I - to major II chord progression. I've never heard that progression used on any earlier pop/rock song. It was powerful and unique.
  • Robert from Staten Island, New YorkThe songs As Tear Go By was a completed song before Yesterday by the Beatles. Marianne Faithful recorded her version of As Tears Go By, accompanied with strings in 1964, and released in the U.K. the same year. Paul McCartney had been working on Yesterday for a while but didn't finish writing the song until the Spring of 1965. When Paul McCartney brought yesterday into the studio it was supposedly George Martin's idea to add strings to the song. People are under the impression that the Stones version, which was recorded in the late summer of 1965, got the idea for strings from Yesterday by the Beatles, but yet Marianne Faithfull's version has strings in it and that was before the Beatles recorded Yesterday. That is the way the songs is supposed to sound. People have also pointed out that the songs also has an acoustic guitar just like Yesterday as well. Firstly, Keith Richards wrote ATGB with an acoustic guitar. Secondly, ATGB is a ballad, and it's very common to use acoustic guitars in ballads to give the songs a gentle soft sound.
  • Tony from St. PaulNothing on this blog site confirms this, but I was under the assumption that the lyrics to As Tears Go By were sung from the perspective of an infertile wealthy woman who wants nothing more in life but to bear a child. Has anybody else thought about this? I thought that's what Mick and Keith were thinking about when they wrote this, kind of the opposite of Mother's Little Helper. Mature and deep lyrics for 21 year old men if this is the case...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 13th 1966, the Rolling Stones performed "As Tears Go By" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    At the time the song was at #50 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; three weeks earlier on January 23rd, 1966 it peaked at #6 {for 1 week} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    On the same 'Sullivan' show they also performed "19th Nervous Breakdown"; and one week later on February 20th, it entered the Top 100 at position #46; and three weeks later on March 13th it peaked at #2* {for 3 weeks} and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks...
    * The three weeks it was at #2; the #1 record for those three weeks was "The Ballad of the Green Berets" by S/Sgt. Barry Sadler.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 10th 1965, a video clip of Marianne Faithful performed "As Tears Go By" was aired on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    Eighteen days earlier on January 23rd, 1965 was its last day on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had peaked at #22 on January 3rd, 1965 {for 1 week} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    She had four other Top 100 records and they all made the chart in 1965; "Come & Stay with Me" {#26}, "This Little Bird" {#32}, "Summer Nights" {#24}, and "Go Away From My World" {#89}...
    R.I.P. Jimmy O'Neill {Shindig's host, 1940 - 2013} and Ms. Faithful celebrated her 68th birthday this pass December 29th {2014}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 23rd 1966, "As Tears Go By" by the Rolling Stones peaked at #6 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on December 19th, 1965 and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #2 on the Australian Kent Music Report chart...
    Was track 3 of side 2 on the lad's fifth American studio album, 'December's Children (And Everybody's)', the album reached #4 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    One other track from the album also made the Top 100, "Get Off My Cloud" (#1 for 2 weeks)...
    On January 3rd, 1965 Marianne Faithful's version peaked at #22 (for 1 week) on the Top 100.
  • Greg from Princeton, NjThis is a beautiful but sad song. Shear poetry from Jagger, et all. It was also used on House.
    Once during Cameron and Chase's wedding and once during the end credits but just an instrumental
    version. Either way it is one of my favorite songs from the Stones.
  • Doctor Gregory House from Princeton-plainsboro, NjI'm surprised that nobody has mentioned that this very good song by the infamous Rolling Stones was featured on an episode of "House". As House is an extremely popular medical drama on Fox I can only come to the conclusion that you people are idiots,
    don't watch television, or most likely both. If you will excuse me now I need a vicodin or two and need to screw with Cuddy (no I don't mean sex you pervert).
  • Chris from Vancouver, BcR, Montreal, QC-- McCartney wrote Yesterday in January of 1964, while The Beatles were on tour in France. It's likely that, since McCartney was showing it off to anyone and everyone he could (to try and discount his fear of plagiarism), Jagger and Richards heard Yesterday before they wrote their own "As Tears Go By".
  • Kadir Köz from Istanbul, TurkeyI cannot say more : Perfect work
  • Bobby from Boston,ma, MaOr even this poem. A songwriter might pick any number of images/ideas to incorporate into a song lyric. I'm an English Major, and let me tell you, after years of reading poetry, I was always thrilled to connect songs (Especially Stones songs!) to things I read. Mainly British bands, but American songwriters too.

    The Stolen Child /W.B. Yeats
    (Last Verse}

    "Away with us he's going,
    The solemn-eyed:
    He'll hear no more the lowing
    Of the calves on the warm hillside
    Or the kettle on the hob
    Sing peace into his breast,
    Or see the brown mice bob
    Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
    For be comes, the human child,
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    from a world more full of weeping than you."

  • Bobby from Boston,ma, MaAlthough Jagger would never admit it, (Royalty -$$$- issues! lol), "As Tears Go By" has a direct connection to W.B. Yeats' poem "Among School Children." Read the poem and it is obvious. I'm not criticising him, this is common. Jagger is/was known as an avid reader of poetry, especially Irish/British poets. I could give you any number of examples in the Stones song collection to prove my point. It's like the Led Zeppelin connection to "The Lord of the Rings" book. We all know Plant wrote songs that plucked their images straight from the book, but, right up until this day, he won't admit it, because if he did, Tolkien's estate would demand royalties!
    Nonetheless, ATGB is a wonderful song and I'm thrilled they added it to their setlist on the last tour.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdThe world's first color TV broadcast was "Premiere" on 5 east coast (US) affiliates June 25, 1951. The first US coast-to-coast color TV broadcast was the 4th annual airing of "Amahl and the Night Visitors" on Dec 20, 1953. The first color prime-time series was "The Marriage" in summer 1954. NBC began its regular series of color dramas in 1959, starting with "Bonanza." NBC's announcement that its fall 1965 prime-time schedule would be almost all color, coaxed the other two networks to follow suit the next season. ABC and CBS had been lagging in this, because of NBC's corporate connection to RCA, which had a near-monopoly on color set production in the US at that time, and they (ABC and CBS) didn't want to support their competitor's product. -- source: Wikipedia article,

  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesI don't know why, but this song always reminds me of "In My Life" by the Beatles. I guess it's just the calm layout of these two songs. "In My Life" is slightly more lively since it has drumbeats, but it's the same style otherwise.
  • R from Montreal, Qc, CanadaNobody's really sure if Jagger wrote this song before Yesterday's McCartney. Rumous said that it was written in 64; while Yesterday was written in 65.
    There is one picture taking in a studio with Jagger, McCartney and Marianne Faithfull while she was recording the song. And I'm not completely sure, but I think that Marianne's version was issued before Yesterday.
    Anyway, the idea to add strings to a song was done well before the Beatles and the Stones; listen to the Motown stuff and you will have the answer.
  • Don from Vermontville, MiMy band plays this song about once a month. Good dance tune.
  • Anne from York , EnglandThis was song was influenced by Yesterday they addded the string section after Yesterday was already on the charts but I honestly like this song better.
  • James from Vidalia, GaI'd always heard that Faithful wrote this song. Hum...bummer. Mis-informed listeners for years.
  • Kelly from San Jose, CaI had to come back and say I got muy wish, Mick & Keith played "As Tears Go By" at their show last night, I couldn't believe it! And at 62 years of age Mick sounded awesome it was great. Thanks Mick, hmmm wonder if saw my comment prior to the show and decided to play what a long time fan was hoping to hear ?

    San Jose CA.
  • Kelly from San Jose, CaI Love the Rolling Stones, This song has been one of my favorites since about third grade, and believe me that was quite some time ago : - ) to remain one of my favorites for this many years has to say something for the song. I only wish it was on the list for the show tonight that I am attending. Come on Mick play ( As Tears Go By ) for a long time faithful fan!
  • Homero from Monterrey , MexicoThis is a very depresive song. Just hear it. I don t remember where i heard ot read, i dont know; that jagger and richards did not like this song at all, they believe its ridiculous.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScStone's version is great! I've also heard Marianne Faithful's version, and it's beautiful!
  • Jim from Minneapolis, Mnabsolutely wonderful ballad...
  • Chelsea from Nyc, OrJagger also recorded a version of this song in Italian called "Con Le Mie Lacrime".
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