John Lennon – Stand By Me

This is the version I like best…and I love Ben E. King’s version. I think it’s the reverb and John’s voice that makes this one the one I listen to the most.

“Stand By Me” was the name of a gospel hymn written by the Philadelphia minister Charles Albert Tindley in 1905. His hymn became popular in churches throughout the American South and was recorded by various gospel acts in the 1950s. The most popular adaptation was by The Staple Singers, who recorded it in 1955. It was this version that Ben E. King heard; he pushed The Drifters to record it, but the group’s manager rejected it.

Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller wrote the song based off the old hymn.

This was on John Lennon’s Rock and Roll album (made up of entirely covers of mostly 50s Rock and Roll). This version peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100 in 1975 for John…and at #4 in 1961 for Ben E. King.

Ben E King:  “David Ruffin from the Temptations did a great version of it. And, of course, the one that held up in my head the most was John Lennon’s version. He took it and made it as if it should have been his song as opposed to mine.

From Songfacts

Ben E. King recorded this shortly after leaving The Drifters in 1960. It gave him a solid reputation as a solo artist.

After leaving The Drifters, King auditioned for the wildly successful songwriting/production team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, singing a few popular songs before doing what he had of “Stand By Me,” which was just a few lines of lyrics with some humming to fill in the words. He agreed to collaborate on the song with Leiber and Stoller, who gave it a more contemporary sound and polished it into a hit. The bassline at the beginning was Stoller’s idea.

The song was credited as being written by Leiber, Stoller and King. Charles Albert Tindley, who composed the original hymn, was left off the composer credits as his work had been sufficiently transformed. This wasn’t the first time Tindley was omitted from the credits of a song he originated: he also wrote “I’ll Overcome Someday,” which eventually became “We Shall Overcome.”

In an interview with the TV station WGBH, Jerry Leiber explained: “Ben E. is not a songwriter, he’s a singer, he might have written two songs in his whole career. I would guess that this comes out of church. The whole ‘stand by me’ and the way the release takes out, it sounds like a gospel-type song.”

This was used in the 1986 movie of the same name starring River Phoenix. The film was based on a short novel by Stephen King called The Body, but that title was a little to gruesome for a movie hoping to appeal to a wide audience.

Rob Reiner, who directed the film, met the song’s co-writter Mike Stoller at a party, and convinced him to play some of his classic songs on a piano while Reiner sang along. Months later, Reiner got the idea to use “Stand By Me” as the title and incorporate it into the movie when he heard the song at his house. This played up the friendship of the young boys in the film and downplayed the role of the dead body they find, which was a good move at the box office. The movie was a hit and propelled the song back to the charts, introducing the track to a new generation.

When this was first released in 1960, it charted US #4 and UK #27. When it was re-released to coincide with the movie, it hit US #9 and UK #1. Now a hit with two generations, the song started showing up at weddings and other special occasions, becoming a timeless classic.

The movie Stand By Me is set in 1959 – a little before this song was released, but pretty close. When Rob Reiner asked to use the song, its composers Leiber and Stoller thought he would want to re-record it with a contemporary artist like Tina Turner, but Reiner wanted the original so it fit the era. It was surprising then when the song vaulted up the charts, since it was the exact same song released in 1961.

According to BMI, this was the fourth most-played track of the 20th Century on American radio and TV.

This song has made an astounding nine appearances on the US Hot 100, plus two more that “bubbled under.” Here’s the breakdown:

1961, #4 – Ben E. King
1964, #102 – Cassius Clay
1965, #75 – Earl Grant
1967, #12 – Spyder Turner
1970, #61 – David & Jimmy Ruffin
1975, #20 – John Lennon
1980, #22 – Mickey Gilley
1985, #50 – Maurice White
1986, #9 – Ben E. King (re-release)
1998, #82 – 4 The Cause
2010, #109 – Prince Royce

Sean Kingston sampled this on his 2007 hit “Beautiful Girls.” Other songs that have used pieces of “Stand By Me” include “A Little Bit of Soap” by De La Soul (1989), “My Darlin'” by Miley Cyrus feat. Future (2013), and “Marvin Gaye” by Charlie Puth (2015).

Dionne Warwick sang backup on this song as part of a trio known as The Gospelaires. Soon after, songwriter Burt Bacharach helped Warwick launch a successful solo career. 

This was not released on an album until it had been out as a single for two years.

Cassius Clay (who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali) recorded this in 1963 on an album called I Am The Greatest!. In 1964, when he beat Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight boxing champ, Clay’s version of “Stand By Me” was released as a single, with his spoken-boast song called “I Am The Greatest” as the flip side. The single made the Billboard charts, bubbling under at #102 on the Hot 100.

During an interview with Spinner UK,  Now there’s a [Dominican] singer named Prince [Royce] – he has a version out there that I think is brilliant. And then there’s Sean Kingston, with ‘Beautiful Girls’ [chuckles] – that’s another one that did well. So many of them have done well. As a songwriter, it pleases me a lot – you don’t always have a chance to write a song that people can relate to.”

The Bachata singer Prince Royce released a cover of this song (with mostly Spanish lyrics) in 2010 as his first single. Royce had been selling cell phones in New York City when he started shopping his demo CD around. When he got little reaction to the songs he wrote, he decided to record one that was familiar, and he chose “Stand By Me” because it was one of his favorite songs. The ploy worked, as it garnered attention and jumpstarted his career.

Florence + The Machine covered the song for Final Fantasy XV. Her version features in the video game’s trailer. “I’ve always seen Final Fantasy as mythical, beautiful and epic,” Florence Welch said. “‘Stand By Me’ is one of the greatest songs probably of all time and you can’t really improve on it, you just have to make it your own. For me it was just about bringing the song into the world of Florence + The Machine and the world of Final Fantasy.”

In England, this was used in commercials for Levi’s jeans in 1987 before the movie was released there. The exposure helped lift the song to #1 UK. “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge, used in the same group of Levi’s ads, went to #2 at the same time.

Budweiser used a version of this song by Skylar Grey in a commercial that aired during the 2018 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. The spot shows the beermaker’s plant in Cartersville, Georgia transforming to process water as part of disaster relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes and wildfires.

This has been played at countless weddings, but none more prominent than the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. Before exchanging their vows in Windsor Castle, Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed a stirring gospel rendition of the song, which was chosen by the couple.

An ambient version by the artist Bootstraps (Jordan Beckett) got the attention of music supervisors and landed a number of placements, including the Power Rangers movie (2017) and episodes of MacGyver, Lethal Weapon and Hawaii Five-0.

Bootstraps included the song on his 2016 album Homage at the last minute. In a Songfacts interview, he explained why it works so well in visual media. “A lot of my songs that have done really well in the sync world are pretty linear – they don’t have these big, huge chorus hits,” he said. “‘Stand By Me,’ which has hands down been the biggest sync song I’ve done, has no kick drum. It has a lot of atmospherics, and the chorus is kind of slowly growing into a swell. So it’s really good for an editor, and that’s just the pragmatics of TV and film.”

 

Stand By Me

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won’t be afraid
No I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling stand by me
Oh, now, now, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountain should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling stand by me
Oh, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me
Oh, now, now, stand by me
Oh, stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darling, darling stand by me
Stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

A song that was unfortunately a true story. It was written and performed by Gordon Lightfoot. The Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that sank in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975.

This is a factual retelling of a shipwreck on Lake Superior in November 1975 that claimed the lives of 29 crew members. On November 10, 1975, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald broke in half and sunk in Lake Superior. The storm she was caught in reported winds from 35 to 52 knots, and waves anywhere from 10 to 35 feet high.

She was loaded with 26,116 tons of taconite pellets at the Burlington Northern Railroad, Dock #1. Her destination was Zug Island on the Detroit River. There were 29 crew members who perished in the sinking.

The song released in 1976 peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100.

Gordon Lightfoot: “The Edmund Fitzgerald really seemed to go unnoticed at that time, anything I’d seen in the newspapers or magazines were very short, brief articles, and I felt I would like to expand upon the story of the sinking of the ship itself,”  “And it was quite an undertaking to do that, I went and bought all of the old newspapers, got everything in chronological order, and went ahead and did it because I already had a melody in my mind and it was from an old Irish dirge that I heard when I was about three and a half years old.”

“I think it was one of the first pieces of music that registered to me as being a piece of music,” he continued. “That’s where the melody comes from, from an old Irish folk song.”

 

For those interested…I have a bio of the event at the bottom.

From Songfacts

In the US, this was held out of the #1 spot by Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s The Night.”

This was nominated for the Song of the Year Grammy, but it was beaten by Barry Manilow’s “I Write The Songs.” >>

Paul Gross hoped to use this tune for his episode of the TV show Due South, “Mountie on the Bounty.” He discreetly tried to secure the right to use the song, but out of respect for the families who wished not to be reminded of the tragedy, he didn’t pursue the option aggressively. He instead wrote the similarly themed song “32 down On The Robert MacKenzie.” 

Ohio-based Great Lakes Brewery produces a beer called Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. 

In 1970, baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s co-founding partner in the Brewers was fellow Milwaukee businessman Edmund B. Fitzgerald, a patron of Milwaukee arts and civic projects, and the son of a family that owned Great Lakes shipyards. In 1958, the freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald was named for Edmund B.’s father. Fitzgerald later became a professor at Vanderbilt University.

An initial investigation suggested that the crew was partly to blame for the disaster by not securing the ship’s hatches. Lightfoot’s song reflected the original findings in the verse, “…at 7 p.m. a main hatchway gave in.” However, in 2010 a Canadian documentary claimed to have proven the crew of the ship was not responsible for the tragedy. It concluded that there is little evidence that failure to secure the ship’s hatches caused the sinking.

Lightfoot said he intended to change it to reflect the new findings. “I’m sincerely grateful to yap films and their program The Dive Detectives for putting together compelling evidence that the tragedy was not a result of crew error,” he said in a release. “This finally vindicates, and honors, not only all of the crew who lost their lives, but also the family members who survived them.”

Lightfoot wrote the lyrics after coming up with the melody and chords. He recalled: “When the story came on television, that the Edmund had foundered in Lake Superior three hours earlier, it was right on the CBC here in Canada, I came into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and saw the news and I said ‘That’s my story to go with the melody and the chords.'”

In a 2015 interview with NPR’s Scott Simon, Gordon Lightfoot explained that the article he read in Newsweek about the tragedy was, “Short shrift for such a monumental event.” Lightfoot says the song came about when he discovered the newspaper writers kept misspelling the name of the ship, rendering it as “Edmond Fitzgerald” rather than “Edmund Fitzgerald.” Though he didn’t say whether or not the misspelling was deliberate, he was quoted as telling Scott, “That’s it! If they’re gonna spell the name wrong, I’ve got to get to the bottom of this!” 

This is referenced in the Seinfeld episode “Andrea Doria,” when Elaine mistakenly believes Gordon Lightfoot was the name of the ship and Edmund Fitzgerald was the name of the singer. Jerry quips: “Yeah, and it was rammed by the Cat Stevens.”

 

Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called ‘gitche gumee’
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship’s bell rang
Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
T’was the witch of November come stealin’
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin’
When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin’
Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya
At seven pm a main hatchway caved in, he said
Fellas, it’s been good t’know ya
The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the maritime sailors’ cathedral
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call ‘gitche gumee’
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

Marcia Trimble

Most Nashvillians know her name even if they were not alive when Marcia Trimble was murdered in 1975…Nashville was never the same again.

I saw it all happen on the news when I was 8 years old. That is when I learned that the world wasn’t a nice safe place. I’ve seen it written many times…1975 is when Nashville lost its innocence. It was never crime free…no city ever is but this changed people forever here. It became high profile and went national.

Marcia Trimble was a 9-year-old Girl Scout selling cookies on February 25, 1975, and disappeared where she lived in Green Hills…a very affluent part of Nashville then as well as now.

My Uncle Fulton was a Sergeant in the Vice Squad at that time. We were at my grandmother’s for Easter and I saw his car pulling up the drive and his three girls looked shocked. I saw him walking over to my mom so I walked over also. I remember he looked at my mom and then me and said…we found her and it’s beyond bad. He didn’t have to say who or what…we knew what he was talking about.

Marcia was found murdered and sexually assaulted under a tarp in a garage near her Green Hills home 33 days after she was declared missing.

The prime suspect was Jeffrey Womack…a then 15-year-old neighbor who had told the cops that Marcia had been by his house but he had no money and didn’t buy anything. The police later thought he kill Marcia…and he was suddenly the prime suspect… until 2008.

There has been plenty of crime here before and after this murder but none had the impact of this horrible event. I live north of Nashville but it affected everyone around middle Tennessee.  At the time parents were obviously more on guard and kids would stick together while out.

From the Nashville Scene…about the neighborhood it happened in.

Former homicide Lt. Tommy Jacobs, who investigated the murder, says that for whatever reason, many of the children in the neighborhood stagnated in the years after the killing. “We interviewed the kids when they were 9 and 10 years old and went back and interviewed them 20-some-odd years later,” he says. “You won’t believe how many of the kids wound up in a mental institution or working at a gas station. Several of the kids were still living at home.”

60-year-old Jerome Sydney Barrett was convicted after DNA was examined in 2008 and he was sentenced to 44 years in prison in 2009…Barrett had killed more people in Nashville in 1975 and was finally connected to Marcia.

Jeffrey Womack, the kid that was falsely accused, was finally free of suspicion after 33 years.

For more of the details…  https://www.insidehook.com/article/action/city-shadows-1974-murder-marcia-trimble-changed-nashville-forever

 

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Mood Rings

When someone says mood rings now…we think of the cheap dime store versions that are available. In 1975 they were not cheap. They were marketed as “portable biofeedback aids” and a silver one would cost $45 and a gold Mood Ring would be $250.

They supposedly could tell how the wearer was feeling…their mood. Marvin Wernick was the first to invent them but failed to patent it. Wernick got the idea when he saw a doctor use thermotropic tape on a child’s forehead. He then filled a glass shell with thermotropic liquid crystals and he attached it to a ring.

Since Wenick didn’t patent it Joshua Reynolds ended up with it and popularizing the ring. He marketed it as “portable biofeedback aids” and he made a million in a 3 month period in 1975. The company then went bankrupt because of the imitations out on the market. I had one of those imitations along with a free green finger that went with them.

They were a big fad for a while but started to die out. They never completely went away though… You can still buy them now.

Below is the color guide to see what “mood” you are in…groovy

Mood Ring Color Chart

Mood Ring Store Display

 

John Lennon – Rock and Roll Album

This album originated because of a lawsuit against John Lennon. On ‘Come Together’, John sings, “Here come old flattop”, a line that was originally in Chuck Berry’s 1956 hit, ‘You Can’t Catch Me’. When it was used, music publisher Morris Levy filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against John.

To settle out of court John agreed to cover three songs that Morris Levy had publishing rights on. John started to work on this when he separated from Yoko in the early seventies. John picked songs that influenced him before the Beatles.

Phil Spector agreed to produce the album and the album started in October of 1973.  The sessions dragged on. Phil Spector, as he often does, acted erratically during the sessions which included shooting a gun through the studio ceiling… Phil then disappeared with the tapes. Lennon could not get the tapes back. After that Spector was involved in a car wreck in March of 74 and was in a coma.

This should have been an easy thing to do… record some covers right? No, John couldn’t get the tapes back so he started on an album of mostly original material called Walls and Bridges which would include the #1 hit “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” He would come back to the covers album afterward.

Now Lennon was getting sued by Levy because Levy already expected the Rock and Roll album to be out. Lennon explained what was going on and John did record one of the three songs on Walls and Bridges called Ya Ya with his son Julian.

John finally got the tapes back from Spector and started the album with the same musicians. He gave Levy some demos to show him the progress that was being made…Levy turns around and has the demos pressed and released them as a record called “Roots: John Lennon Sings the Great Rock & Roll Hits.” They were sold on TV for 3 days before EMI filed an injunction and stopped the record.

Lennon_Roots.jpg

Lennon then finished the real album in 5 days with John himself producing. It was released in February 1975. Only four songs are used on the album that was produced with Spector. I will say this about the record. This isn’t just some star singing old hits…you can tell John loved the songs and treated all of them with reverence.

The album made it to #6 in the Billboard 200, #6 in the UK, and #5 in Canada. Stand By Me made it to #20 in the Billboard 100. John Lennon did not make another album until Double Fantasy in 1980.

The cover features a young John Lennon while in Hamburg.

I’m taking nothing away from the Ben E King’s version of Stand By Me because I love it… but for me, this is my go-to version. Lennon’s voice cuts through the song like a knife.

Trilogy of Terror 1975

This TV movie scared a lot of kids in the 1970’s…including me… It is an anthology horror movie but the last story is the one that is remembered. For years I tried to find this movie and when I finally did I wasn’t disappointed. I knew going in that there was no CGI and it was a TV movie so I wasn’t disappointed seeing it at an older age. I assume this movie help inspire the Chucky movies of the late 1980’s. The story was written by  Richard Matheson.

Karen Black plays Amelia who lives in an apartment. She comes home with this voodoo warrior  looking doll. The doll is said to hold a killing spirit inside and there is a gold chain around it to supposedly hold the spirit in.

Amelia calls her mom and is fighting with her and finally lets her go…she notices that the chain is off of the warrior doll. Amelia goes to cook dinner and comes back and the doll is gone.

This is when all the fun begins. After this the doll starts chasing her around and she chases the doll. After a lot of cuts, biting, bruises, stabbing and fire we get a surprise ending. Amelia’s mom is coming over but to what?

With special effects being what they were in the 1970’s…they did a really good job. They show just enough of the doll to look real. They know their limitations and work within that.

Anyone who enjoys the Chucky movies should enjoy this but it will not have the effects those movies have in them.