UKULELE MUSING 43, 2 NOVEMBER 2019: “AS TIME GOES BY,” A SONG MADE BY A MOVIE THAT ALMOST DIDN’T MAKE IT
While we’re roasting musical “chestnuts” as we wind down this year’s series of blog postings on songs from our Yellow and Blue Books, I thought I would touch on that film favorite “As Time Goes By.” While most of us know this song from its truncated version in the 1942 movie “Casablanca,”
it did have an earlier life. It was written by New Jersey’s own Herman Hupfeld (1894-1951) in 1931 for the Broadway musical “Everybody’s Welcome.”
While this song was ranked at Number Two on the American Film Institute’s best songs of all time, after “Over the Rainbow,” it seems to be the only song by Hupfeld that anyone today remembers and plays. Hid did, however, write songs like “When Yuba Plays The Rhumba On The Tuba“, “I’ve Got To Get Up And Go To Work”, “Are You Making Any Money?,” “A Hut in Hoboken”, and, of course, “Let’s Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep.” Such is the cachet of the movies!
Oh, why not?
But I digress . . .
“As Time Goes By” was sung in the musical by Frances Williams
but was first recorded by the crooner and bandleader Rudy Vallee and his “Connecticut Yankees.” This was a hit record in 1931.
Rudy Vallee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWEEivXoMZ4
By far, however, the best-known version of our song is the one from “Casablanca” as sung by the character “Sam” played by Dooley Wilson at the request of “Ilse,” played by Ingrid Bergman.
Wilson was a drummer and actor—alas, not a piano player. In the movie, the piano music was dubbed. Such is the magic of film!
Dooley Wilson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d22CiKMPpaY
If you are interested in the history of collectible musical instruments and don’t mind another digression, the piano that Wilson “played” in the movie—built with a shortened keyboard—58 instead of 88 keys—and decorated in a “Moroccan” motif—was recently restored and sold at a Bonham’s auction for $3.4 million! A bit better than a Martin Style 5 ukulele!
For you buffs of old-school jazz/popular songs, such as “As Time Goes By,” here are the words for the first verse. The chorus and bridge are, of course, in our Blue Book.
VERSE: This day and age we’re living in, Gives cause
With speed and new invention, And things like third dimension.
Yet we get a trifle weary, With Mister Einstein’s theory.
So we must get down to earth, At times relax, relieve the tension.
No matter what the progress, Or what may yet be proved.
The simple facts of life are such, They cannot be removed.
CHORUS: You must remember this, A kiss is still a kiss.
. . .
Of course, there are hundreds of versions of this favorite tune. Here are a few to illustrate the variety of interpretations!
Jimmy Durante: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ksYHw9YT5A
Bing Crosby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6TxoDoOmO4
Frank Sinatra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDQLGkEBVlI
Stephan Grappelli, Jazz Violin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLN6nljaWwU
Billie Holiday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3t8zjtk0Ok
And, of course, Ukulele: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDOpAM11k9k
As an aside, the producers of the movie “Casablanca” wanted to cut the “As Time Goes By” scene from the movie fearing that it was a bit too long and really didn’t “push” the plot. Ingrid Bergman, however, had moved on to another film (“For Whom the Bell Tolls”) and had cut her hair for the role. It was deemed impossible in that day and age to reshoot so, against their better judgement, the producers left the song in. How musical history is made!
Got another earworm? You’re welcome!