In the 40+ years since the release of Ben E. King’s break-out 1968 hit “Stand By Me,” it has become an anthem for the best kinds of friendship and love. The song has been used and used and used in all kinds of ways, and one of the best uses was Rob Reiner’s film of the same name, which was based on, of all things, a Stephen King novella, “The Body.” Here’s the trailer for it; watch as much or as little as you wish. It has gotten more than 800,000 hits.
But it took a particular video clip to add a memorable facet to the song. If you get e-mail, you likely got this. I got it from a high school buddy with whom I’m working long distance to make our 50th high school reunion a huge success. Yes, 50th high school reunion, a really over the top event. His idea is to use the song as a theme.
King described how “Stand By Me” came to be in “What’d I Say”: The Atlantic Story by Ahmet Ertegum, Welcome Rain Publishers, 2001:
At the same session where I recorded “Spanish Harlem,” we had about half an hour left and were sitting around with nothing to do. Jerry [Leiber] and Mike [Stoller] asked me if I had any songs, so I said I had one called ‘Stand By Me’. . . . They said, ‘Okay, let’s hear it.’
Here’s “going viral” at its best. A YouTube Playing for Change version has gotten more hits than there are people in the whole state of Florida (according to 2009 estimates, 18.5 million) -- almost 20 million hits! Astonishing. And that’s on YouTube alone. It’s also on Vimeo. It was also sent around the globe by e-mail.
This wonderfully touching Playing for Change video of Grandpa Elliott Small singing a musical mashup performance of King’s “Stand by Me” was recorded from New Mexico to South Africa. You should watch the whole clip, for sometimes the good stuff just keeps getting better.
A recent Associated Press story updated Grandpa Elliot, which ran in many newspapers, including this one in the April 22 edition of the New York Times, which quoted Small telling how he felt to be a part of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival last weekend. The Festival runs through this weekend.
Hail, Rock 'n Roll.