The Rolling Stones perform “As Tears Go By” (1964) from the Beacon Theatre in New York City on November 1, 2006. The Stones have been continuously performing as a rock band since 1962.
Part of their Bigger Bang Tour, this 19-set concert in Manhattan was subsequently released, in 2008, as a biographical drama film—Shine a Light—directed by Martin Scorsese. While they wrote this particular song in the early 1960s, the Rolling Stones only started to perform it live during this tour. The song was originally recorded by Marianne Faithfull, in 1964, whose version can be viewed [here]. The Stones’ recording from 1965 can be viewed [here].
While I greatly appreciate music before this time, it goes without saying that this music had a major influence on my youthful years, as it does for many of my generation. While rock is often about protest, about social inequalities, about dated social conventions and long-standing restrictions, this song shows that rock music need not be defiant and hard, that it can also be soft and melancholic.
A fifty-something-year-old Jagger, in 1995, said of the song: “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.”
Fast forward twenty years later, and it might be true that neither is it so today for children, so much has the world of play changed.