Marianne Faithfull

As Tears Go By

Composed by Andrew Loog Oldham / Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

Song Review by

Marianne Faithfull's first single following her discovery by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham was also one of the first songs written by the Mick Jagger/Keith Richard partnership. Originally titled "As Time Goes By", it was renamed at Oldham's insistence, one of several changes he made in his role as the song's third credited composer. Indeed, it took Oldham ten days to complete the song to his satisfaction, trimming the original five verses down to two, rearranging the chorus, halving a reed-led solo and altering the song's original boy-meets-girl lyric to reflect a more mournful scenario. "And finally it was done," he recalled. "I had my virgin behind the brick convent walls, aching to hear the children sing, and who knew already, don't know how, didn't care either, that her riches couldn't buy her everything."

Recorded at Olympic Studios with a small string section, an oboe player, and session guitarist Jimmy Page, "As Tears Go By" emerged an absolutely beautiful performance, cloaked in melancholy and almost painful to contemplate. Faithfull herself reflected, "It's an absolutely astonishing [song] for a boy of 20 to have written, or for a girl of 17 to be singing. [But] I rerecorded it at the age of 40 for the Strange Weather album] and, at that moment, I was exactly the right age, and in the right frame of mind, to sing it. It was then that I truly experienced the lyrical melancholy of the song for the first time."

As a single, "As Tears Go By" climbed to #9 in the UK, #24 in the United States, and highlighted Faithfull's eponymous LP the following year. It has remained a staple of her repertoire ever since, although not always to its best advantage. Live in the mid 1970s, Faithfull would merely lip-synch the song, leaving the actual singing duties to band member Barry Reynolds. She wrung out a spectacular version at David Bowie's 1980 Floor Show extravaganza in 1973, however, while 1990's ^Blazing Away live album also features a superlative rendering.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Marianne Faithfull 1965 Deram 2:40
No Image 1965 London 2:35
No Image 1981 Decca
Strange Weather 1987 Island 3:42
Marianne Faithfull's Greatest Hits 1987 ABKCO Records 2:40
Blazing Away 1990 Fontana / Hip-O 4:27
Blazing Away [Video] 1990 Polygram 4:25
Jagger/Richard Songbook 1991
Various Artists
VSOP 3:44
British Sixties 1993
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels
Faithfull: A Collection of Her Best Recordings 1994 Island 2:36
Broken English/Strange Weather 1995 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 3:46
A Perfect Stranger: The Island Anthology 1998 Island 3:47
The Very Best of Marianne Faithfull [Polygram International] 2001 London 2:40
A Stranger on Earth: An Introduction to Marianne Faithfull 2001 Decca / Fontana / Hip-O 3:47
Broken English/Faithfull 2002 Universal International 2:37
Let's Hear It for the Girls Again 2002
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:36
Greatest Hits 2003 Universal Distribution
The Best Of Marianne Faithfull 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection 2003 Island 3:46
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Universal Music
Singers and Songwriters: 1960-1964 2003
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Best of the 60's: Oh! What a Night/Love... 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Live in Hollywood at the Henry Fonda Theater 2005 Eagle Vision
No Image 2006 Eagle Rock 4:05
Live at the BBC 2008 Decca 2:59
Marianne Faithfull 1964 2014 ABKCO Records 2:39
As Tears Go By [Single] ABKCO Records 2:36
Dreamboats & Miniskirts: Summer in the City
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 2:37
Pure 60's
Various Artists
Universal Music 2:33
No Image
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:38
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