I’ve often wondered about the contemplation’s of Mick Jagger’s mind when he created As Tears Go By. He was just 21, a baby compared to his 74 year old self today.
Jagger stated that it’s a song regarding (maybe elderly) adults watching children play and realizing they can never recover that untroubled time of enchantment again.
What if Mick perceived his own unhappiness and yearned for a normal life? Ideas of working at a mundane job, perhaps as a carpet salesman, and coming home everyday to his wife and children, filled him with happiness. He aspired to vacate the band (Brian Jones was still alive and the leader) and seek the hand of the fair maiden to walk alongside him in this search for a stodgy dream life.
Excitement overwhelms his voice, as he tells her his 10 point plan for their happiness, which include: naps, tea time with the parents every weekend, a house full of screaming kids, a small vacation every ten years or so, paying bills, love, laughter, trying to keep the growing kids in decent clothes, keeping the house and garden presentable, living in a ramshackle house and enjoying every minute of it. After telling her his proposal, she tells him “no,” he’s nothing to her out of the band. She wants him for his fame and the excitement he can bring to her life.
As she walks away, the pictures carried inside his brain, of his lovely children fade (to black). He sits down to write this song, and possibly began the blueprint for the murder of Brian Jones while taking over the band. His heart grew smaller, the opposite of the Grinch, and became half it’s former size.
Another version, (it’s been argued this is the true version) might be that his manager locked Jagger in a room with Keith Richards, and kept them there until the song was finished.
The world may never know the truth.
The song remains beautiful, even though it could be construed as quite depressing.