Popular music in America is the richer for the presence on an earlier musical landscape of Herman Hupfeld. One of his major contributions as a songwriter was and continues to be the memorable, “As Time Goes By,” a song which first saw the light of day as part of the score for the 1931 musical, “Everybody’s Welcome.”
Since that first hearing on the legitimate musical stage, the song has gone on to become almost a living definition of the term, “standard.” Its most celebrated presence, without question, was its spotlight treatment in the movie classic, “Casablanca,” the war-time Bogart and Bergman opus in which Dooley Wilson played the tune on an upright piano in a smokey North African bar.
Thirty years later, in 1972, pianist Wilson appeared on screen all over again, playing the familiar strains of “As Time Goes By,” in the movie, “Play It Again Sam.” Between ‘72 and 1986, the song popped up again in three more motion pictures, “What’s Up Doe?,” “Blue Skies Again” and “Round Midnight.”
But there is no final curtain for this wonderful and nostalgic American ballad. Jimmy Durante’s rendition of the song in all its wistful glory on the soundtrack to yet another major film, “Sleepless in Seattle,” starring Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan, which produced yet another new wave of popularity just two years ago.
Hupfeld, who was born in Montclair, NJ, served in the US Navy in World War I, and played and sang in camps and hospitals during World War II. A number of other Hupfeld songs have also left their mark on the popular culture, songs like “Sing Something Simple,” “Let’s Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep,” “Down the Old Back Road” and “Baby’s Blue.” Still the revered and renowned songwriter, Herman Hupfeld, leaves a very special and indelible musical legacy with “As Time Goes By.”