Arlen regarded it as the favourite of the songs that he had written.
"Last Night When We Were Young" was highly regarded by Judy Garland, who recorded it twice, and frequently performed it. Composer Alec Wilder called it a "most remarkable and beautiful song" that "goes far beyond the boundaries of popular music." Continuing, he stated that "[i]t is unlike any other Arlen song that I have heard. However, it is unmistakably his." Harburg did not know where he acquired the title, saying, "the juxtaposition of those two phrases is almost a whole world of philosophy".
Last night when we were young Love was a star A song unsung
Life was so new So real so right Ages ago last night
Today the world is old You flew away and time grew cold Where is that star That seems so bright Ages ago last night
To think that spring had depended On merely this a look, a kiss
To think that something so splended Could slip away in one little daybreak
So now let's reminisce and recollect the sighs and the kisses The arms that clung When we were young last night