Writing a part three of my “Digging the Oldies” series seems like too much. I thought so too; but after hearing two consecutive renditions of the classic “Stand by Me” by two notable – and my favorite – artists in just one month, I can’t help but finally give in to temptation.
The melody graced the stage again during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards when the band Imagine Dragons sang a heartfelt rendition of the song as attribute to Ben E. King, which made the crowd sway and sing to the gentle melody of this classic. It was a surprise when we hear it again the Salt Lake City arena. Ed Sheeran and Ben Kweller plucked away the guitar in their tour to give us another beautiful rendition of this song to sing along to.
“Stand by Me” was born out of inspiration from Psalms 46: 2-3 in which was a no surprise considering King’s religious background. The lyrics of the song were penned in an oak desk with Ben E. King and Jerry Leiber behind the desk holding the pens. On the other hand, it was Mike Stoller who developed the signature bass patterns using the piano in creating the harmonies.
Oh the other hand, amore different account was told in the documentary “History of Rock ‘n Roll” about the origin of the song. It was told that King has no intention of recording the song; yet after being heard by the producers when he played the piece on piano, studio musicians were readily called.
But no matter which accounts are correct, it definitely did not count as a factor for the commercial success of the song. It went No. 1 on the R&B Charts, re-released twice earning two hits in the US, and was used as the soundtrack for the !986 movie of the same title. After that, numerous covers appeared some are by the music icons such as John Lennon.
To date, there are around 400 recorded versions of the song, placed 122nd of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” performed seven million times in the 20th century, and was announced to receive the 2012 Towering Song Award, which also honors King receiving the 2012 Towering Performance Award by the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
Just recently this year, the original version was described as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” inducting it to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress.
Stand By Me by Ben E. King Song facts
Ben E. King
Mary Grace Valdez