As Time Goes By (song)

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"As Time Goes By"
Edizioni Musicali Radio Record Ricordi, copertina dello spartito musicale, 1949 - san dl SAN IMG-00001816.jpg
Song by Herman Hupfeld
Published1931 by Harms, Inc.
Songwriter(s)Herman Hupfeld

"As Time Goes By" is a jazz song written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931. It became famous when it was featured in the 1942 Warner Bros. film Casablanca performed by Dooley Wilson as Sam. The song was voted No. 2 on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs special, commemorating the best songs in film[1] (only surpassed by "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland). The song has since become the signature tune of Warner Bros. and used as such in the production logos at the beginning of many Warner Bros. films since February 12, 1999 with Message in a Bottle, as well as the closing logos to most Warner Bros. Television Studios shows since fall 2003 with Two and a Half Men, and preexisting shows also switching over from a previous theme that had been used since 1994.

It was also the title and theme song of the 1990s British romantic comedy series As Time Goes By. The song was also one of the insert songs in the 2015 movie Love Live! The School Idol Movie, the song was sung by the mysterious girl singer played by voice actress Minami Takayama for the Japanese version. It was replaced with an original song called "Stars, come to me!" in the international release, which was also sung by the same character played by Takayama. The song was also covered by Nancy Sinatra, Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Durante and Bryan Ferry. The AFI listed it among its "top 100" movie songs. National Public Radio included it in its "NPR 100", a 1999 list of the most important American musical works of the 20th century as compiled by NPR's music editors.[2] The song is a popular reflection of nostalgia and often used in films and series reflecting this feeling.[3][4]


Herman Hupfeld wrote "As Time Goes By" for the 1931 Broadway musical Everybody's Welcome which opened on October 31, 1931. In the original show, it was sung by Frances Williams. It was first recorded by Rudy Vallée on July 25, 1931 for Brunswick Records, then also by Jacques Renard and his Orchestra and Fred Rich. In 1932, Binnie Hale recorded the song. In terms of popularity at the time, it was a modest hit. Elisabeth Welch included the song in her cabaret act soon after it was released.

The song was re-introduced in the 1942 film Casablanca where it was sung by Sam, portrayed by Dooley Wilson; Sam's piano accompaniment was played by a studio pianist, Jean Vincent Plummer.[5][6][7] The melody is heard throughout the film as a leitmotif.[8] Wilson was unable to make a commercial recording of the song at the time due to the 1942–44 musicians' strike. Unable to record new versions of the song, RCA Victor reissued the 1931 recording by Rudy Vallée which became a number one hit, eleven years after it was originally released. Brunswick also reissued the 1931 Jacques Renard recording.[9][10]

Hupfeld lived his whole life in Montclair, New Jersey, and was a regular customer at the Robin Hood Inn, a tavern built in 1922 on Valley Road, then part of Upper Montclair. He spent many hours at the piano and wrote several of his songs in this tavern, now the Valley Regency. A plaque on the second floor of the Valley Regency Catering Facility in Clifton, New Jersey, commemorates the song. He wrote over one hundred songs, including "Let's Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep," and the popular Great Depression song "Are You Making Any Money?"[11]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

The original song in the film as sung and played by "Sam" was recorded in D-flat major, but it has since been played in several keys, commonly C major, but also B-flat major, as in Frank Sinatra's recording, and other keys including A major and E-flat major, the key in which the song was originally published.

Like many later singers, Wilson in Casablanca starts with "You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss...", singing only the verses and refrain ("As time goes by"). He entirely omits the intro that put those "fundamental things" into context: "This day and age we're living in/Gives cause for apprehension[...] Yet we get a trifle weary/With Mr Einstein's theory/So we must get down to earth at times [...] The simple facts of life [...] cannot be removed".[12][13][14] At least one version moves the intro into the middle of the song.[15]

Use by Warner Bros.[edit]

In regards to the song's use as the signature tune of Warner Bros., it was used as such in the production logos at the beginning of many Warner Bros. films since February 12, 1999 with Message in a Bottle, as well as the closing logos to most Warner Bros. Television Studios shows since fall 2003 with Two and a Half Men, and preexisting shows also switching over from a previous theme that had been used since 1994.

The original fanfare debuted in 1998 during the studio's 75th anniversary with an opening montage. It would later be re-orchestrated for the new logo's fanfare, composed by Ludwig Göransson, which was favored over Billy Mallery's composition, which debuted on April 21, 2021 in Italy with Non Mi Uccidere (the television counterpart debuted before its movie counterpart on March 4, 2021 with Young Sheldon season 4 episode 10, entitled "Cowboy Aerobics and 473 Grease-free Bolts"). In the new version, the fanfare now played in a different key and has a more powerful build up and the opening notes are now played on a guitar as opposed to a piano.


Wilson's version was re-released in Australia where it peaked at number 86 in March 1978.

Chart (1978) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[16] 86


  1. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  2. ^ "NPR's 100". Archived from the original on December 24, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  3. ^ Tan, Siu-Lan; Cohen, Annabel J.; Lipscomb, Scott D.; Kendall, Roger A. (June 27, 2013). The Psychology of Music in Multimedia. ISBN 978-0199608157.
  4. ^ Browne, Ray Broadus; Ambrosetti, Ronald J. (1993). Continuities in Popular Culture: The Present in the Past & the Past in the Present and Future. ISBN 9780879725938.
  5. ^ "Who Played It Again, Sam? The Three Pianists of 'Casablanca'". AFM. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jean Vincent Plummer".
  7. ^ Buhler, James; Caryl Flinn; David Neumeyer (2000). Music and cinema. Wesleyan University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-8195-6411-5.
  8. ^ Zinsser, William (2000). Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs. Jaffrey, New Hampshire: David R. Godine. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-56792-325-4.
  9. ^ Jasen, David A. (2003). Tin Pan Alley: an encyclopedia of the golden age of American song. New York: Taylor & Francis. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-415-93877-8.
  10. ^ Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 1, side A.
  11. ^ Hall, Roger (2015). A Guide to Film Music: Songs and Scores. PineTree Press, 6th edition. p. 23.
  12. ^ Randy Wayne (November 20, 2015). "As Time Goes By and Albert Einstein. Do the Fundamental Things Still Apply?". The Lansing Star. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  13. ^ Peter Galison (February 12, 2015). "EMC2x: The Einstein Revolution". HarvardX - Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  14. ^ Peter Galison (January 22, 2015). "HAREMC2XT115-V000200_100". HarvardX - YouTube. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  15. ^ 'As Time Goes By' (Binnie Hale, 1932) – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 340. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.