As Tears Go By

Composers: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Andrew Oldham
Recording date: October 1965         Recording location: IBC Studios, London
Producer: Andrew Oldham          Engineer: Glyn Johns
       Performed onstage: 2005-06*, 2013, 2017*
(*in 2006 in Milan and 2017 in Lucca, as Con Le Mie Lacrime)

Probable line-up:

Acoustic guitar: Keith Richards
Vocal: Mick Jagger
Strings: The Mike Leander Orchestra

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


We never dreamed of doing As Tears Go By ourselves when we wrote it. We just gave it straight to Marianne Faithfull. We wrote a lot of songs for other people, most of which were very unsuccessful.

- Mick Jagger, 1968

We just wrote it. And Andrew Oldham was managing (Marianne Faithfull) so decided to do it with her. I think we thought it was very soft for us to do at the time, being a sort of blues band.

- Mick Jagger, 2002

It was pop and we didn't record it (at first) because it was crap. We had a successful crap ballad... I can say now it's a wonderful tune, but we didn't think it was that great at the time.

- Mick Jagger, 2002

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.

- Mick Jagger, 1995

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).

- Mick Jagger, 2001

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