Jump to content

As Time Goes By (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"As Time Goes By"
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 featured in the 1942 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] (surpassed only by "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland).

The song was covered among others by Rudy Vallee, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Vera Lynn, Bob Dylan and Bryan Ferry. It was also the title and theme song of the 1990s British romantic comedy series As Time Goes By. 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] Since 1999, an instrumental version of the song's closing bars has accompanied the studio logo of many Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Television productions, in reference to the studio's production of Casablanca.[5]


Herman Hupfeld wrote "As Time Goes By" for the 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 Victor Records, then also by Jacques Renard and his Orchestra on Brunswick Records and Fred Rich. In 1932, Binnie Hale recorded the song. Elisabeth Welch included the song in her cabaret act soon after it was released. In terms of popularity at the time, it was a modest hit.

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; Wilson was a drummer.[6][7][8] The melody is heard throughout the film as a leitmotif.[9] 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.[10][11]

Hupfeld lived his whole life in Montclair, New Jersey, and was a regular customer at the Robin Hood Inn (now the Valley Regency), 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. 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?"[12]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

The song was originally published in the key of E-flat major. In the film, as sung and played by "Sam", it was recorded in D-flat major. 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.

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".[13][14][15] At least one version moves the intro into the middle of the song.[16]


Wilson's version was re-released in parts of the world in late 1977, including the UK where it reached number 15 in January 1978, and Australia where it peaked at number 86 in March 1978.

Chart (1978) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[17] 86


  1. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  2. ^ "NPR's 100". NPR. 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. OUP Oxford. 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. Popular Press. ISBN 9780879725938.
  5. ^ Kim, Wook (September 21, 2012). "Mountain to Moon: 10 Movie Studio Logos and the Stories Behind Them". Time. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  6. ^ Wallace, Robert E. (October 1, 2017). "Who Played It Again, Sam? The Three Pianists of 'Casablanca'". AFM Local 47. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "Jean Vincent Plummer". IMDb.
  8. ^ Buhler, James; Caryl Flinn; David Neumeyer (2000). Music and cinema. Wesleyan University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-8195-6411-5.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Hall, Roger (2015). A Guide to Film Music: Songs and Scores. PineTree Press, 6th edition. p. 23.
  13. ^ Wayne, Randy (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.
  14. ^ Galison, Peter (February 12, 2015). "EMC2x: The Einstein Revolution". HarvardX - courses.edx.org. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  15. ^ Galisonm Peter (January 22, 2015). "HAREMC2XT115-V000200_100". HarvardX - YouTube. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  16. ^ 'As Time Goes By' (Binnie Hale, 1932). Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ 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.