World's Greatest Songs—As Time Goes By
No list of "World's Greatest Songs" would be complete without the ever-endearing "As Time Goes By" from one of the greatest movies of all time, the 1943 Academy Award winning (Best Picture) Casablanca.
Who can forget the sadness in the eyes of Ilsa Lund, played by the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, as she implores Sam, played by Dooley Wilson, to play and then sing, "As Time Goes By"?
Ilsa: Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake.
The song is WORLD FAMOUS. The movie is a cross-generational classic. "Bogie," Humphrey Bogart, as well as Bergman, are screen legends largely because of their roles in this film.
But there are a lot of interesting facts about "As Time Goes By" that many fans and observers overlook.
Casablanca won the Oscar for Best Picture (and two others as well) and while Max Steiner was nominated for an Academy Award for Original Music Score, it was "As Time Goes By," the only song in the film not composed by Steiner, that is synonymous with the movie (although the music throughout is excellent and memorable).
This wasn't the first time "As Time Goes By" stole the show.
"As Time Goes By" was written by Tin Pan Alley songwriter Herman Hupfeld for the 1931 Broadway musical, Everybody's Welcome. Academy Award Winning songwriter Sammy Fain ("Love Is A Many Splendored Thing") wrote all of the music for Everybody's Welcome, except Hupfeld's "As Time Goes By."
SIDEBAR: Herman Hupfeld was unusual by Tin Pan standards in that he wrote BOTH lyrics and music. Most compositions from the period are collaborations.
"As Time Goes By" made another stop, thanks to Everybody's Welcome, before landing in the immortal Casablanca. Murray Burnett and Joan Alison wrote the play Everybody Comes to Rick's, which ultimately became the basis for the movie Casablanca, and included Hupfeld's ballad.
"In the summer of 1938, while on vacation from his job as English teacher at a vocational school, Murray and his wife Frances travelled to occupied Vienna to help Jewish relatives there, for the Nazis had invaded the city in March that year. Later, the couple visited a small town in the South of France, where they went to a nightclub overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. There a black pianist played jazz for a crowd of French, Nazis, and refugees. His experiences in Vienna inspired him to write [Everybody Comes to Rick's] in the summer of 1940..." —Wikipedia
Burnett recalled "As Time Goes By" from Everybody's Welcome and thought it was the perfect song for the nightclub scene at "Rick's." He was right.
SIDEBAR: Two of the main script writers on Casablanca were the screenwriting Epstein twins, Philip and Julius. Philip Epstein, who died in 1952, is the paternal grandfather of Theo Epstein, wunderkind GM of the Boston Red Sox.
Max Steiner, who wrote the scores to many famous films including Gone With The Wind, originally didn't want to retain "As Time Goes By" from Everybody Comes To Rick's.
"Steiner wanted to write his own song to replace it, but had to abandon his plan because Bergman had already cut her hair short for her next role and could not re-shoot the scenes which incorporated the song." —Wikipedia
So Steiner used "As Time Goes By." In fact much of the supporting score is based on the song and the rest, as they say, is history.
Oddly, as famous as the song is, most people don't know the real name of the man who sang it: Dooley Wilson.
"Unhappy with his [bit-part] movie roles [Wilson] was about to abandon Hollywood altogether when Paramount lent him out to Warner Bros. for the piano-playing role of Sam...in Casablanca...Dooley immortalized the song "As Time Goes By"...While paid only $350 a week for his services, Dooley achieved his own immortality as well...Moreover, he was not a pianist in real life and was dubbed while fingering the keyboard." —Wikipedia
Click the button below to hear a snippett of Dooley Wilson's performance of "As Time Goes By" in Casablanca.
Another oft-overlooked detail regarding "As Time Goes By" is that only part of the actual song was used, and has become famous. The prelude to the song, printed below, is a substantially different melody and likely unrecognizable to most as the song known the world over as "As Time Goes By."
This day and age we're living in
And no matter what the progress
As Time Goes By Lyrics
You must remember this
And when two lovers woo
Moonlight and love songs
It's still the same old story
Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers
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