John Lennon – Slippin’ and a Sliding’

I usually feature originals but I found this video of John covering Slippin and a Slidin’ that I never have seen before and I had to include it. My son listened to John Lennon’s Rock and Roll album (made up of entirely covers of mostly 50s Rock and Roll) and he flipped over it. Afterward, he played it so much I relistened to it and John’s love of that music really came through.

The song was on the Rock and Roll album released in 1975. I could listen to John sing the phone book.

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.

 

Slippin’ and Slidin’

Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, been told long time ago,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, been told long time ago,
I been told, baby, you been bold, I won’t be your fool no more.

Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive,
Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, won’t be your fool no more.

Oh Malinda, she’s a solid sender, you know you better surrender,
Oh Malinda, she’s a solid sender, you know you better surrender,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, won’t be your fool no more.

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

Rock and Roll…Quotes

Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.
John Lennon

The world used us as an excuse to go mad.
George Harrison

I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.
Paul McCartney

America: It’s like Britain, only with buttons.
Ringo Starr

I’m still the best Keith Moon-style drummer in the world.
Keith Moon

I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police.
Keith Richards

A kid once said to me “Do you get hangovers?” I said, “To get hangovers you have to stop drinking.
Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister of Motorhead

Rock ‘n’ Roll might not solve your problems, but it does let you dance all over them
Pete Townshend

I was Marilyn Manson – times 10.
Alice Cooper

In the end you become part of everything you hate, basically.
Ray Davies

I’d rather be dead than singing “Satisfaction” when I’m forty-five.
Mick Jagger

The thing about my music is, there really is no point.
Neil Young

No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky.
Bob Dylan

If there’s one thing I know about music theory, it’s that if you don’t believe the singer, you won’t believe the song.
Tom Petty

Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.
Johnny Cash

I am the innovator. I am the originator. I am the emancipator. I am the architect of rock ‘n’ roll!
Little Richard

I grew up thinking art was pictures until I got into music and found I was an artist and didn’t paint.
Chuck Berry

I’m one of those regular weird people.
Janis Joplin

I sing to the realists. People who accept it like it is
Aretha Franklin

I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.
David Bowie

Music was my way of keeping people from looking through and around me. I wanted the heavies to know I was around.
Bruce Springsteen

I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.
Jimi Hendrix

We lived the life with Keith Moon. It was all Spinal Tap magnified a thousand times.
Roger Daltrey

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.

Rock Music… Where have you gone?

Rock Music… Why is it not breaking through to the mainstream anymore? Yes, there are a lot of good bands out there…just check on Youtube and you will find many that are really good and some great. That is the problem though…you should not have to search them out. Mainstream rock stations will not play them…they play classic rock (which I love for the most part) but artists today have a bleak way of life. The only way they make real money is to tour and tour and tour. Since downloading began they are left with ticket sales. There are college radio stations and less powerful stations that play new rock but they are not prevalent.

The older rock stars really made the money… album, tours, 8 Track, cassette, CD, and some download sales. Today’s artist has downloads on Itunes and CD’s that sell at concerts Some are releasing vinyl which is on the rise and that is cool. My son is 20 and he likes some new acts like Jake Bugg, Foster the People and The Black Keys. But for the most part though it’s the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Band etc…

I don’t think people take music as seriously as before because there are so many other options to do. When an album came out we would rush to the record store (Cats, Port 0 Call, Tower or Columbia House) and study the album’s artwork and liner notes. Music was a big part of a teenager’s life in the 60’s through the 90’s…. With me, I bought a lot of older albums but I would get new ones also. Bands that came to town were announced on the radio and also posters on telephone poles everywhere. It was hard to miss a band or artist coming. We would line up and wait for tickets. I can’t say that I miss that part but I do in a way.

I appreciated the concert more because of the effort and the long wait times. We would all talk…all strangers while waiting in line on how much we liked the artist we were getting tickets for…. Talking face to face and not on a phone or in a chat room…a different feel altogether for all of us kindred souls. It was not a concert…it was an event. An event that you planned for weeks or months to attend and get excited about. After the concert, we would wear our concert shirts…bootleg or otherwise like a badge of honor.

The music scene now is fractured into smithereens. Everyone is put in a box. The rock station I grew up with would play a new song, old song, and even new songs by older artists. Now it’s divided up and if you listen to one you don’t hear the other.

We would go to school arguing over rock groups and music in general…. like The Kinks “You Really Got Me” or Van Halen‘s cover of the song. New Wave vs Rock… Heavy Metal vs just rock n roll. They were all fun arguments with all of us liking some of both.

Yes, some weak music appeared in the 60-90s as in every decade but no one took music from The Partridge Family etc… seriously. Now boy bands or “divas” are embraced with corporate driven muzak. Record companies want a sure thing and will not try anything new….just the proven formula. Why can’t they put muscle behind more talented rock bands? I would like to see a revival of rock bands that you don’t have to search for on the internet.

In high school, there were a lot of bands. The group I was in played more straight rock and roll but we had bands that played heavy metal to punk. Today in that school…no bands exist. We would play in the gym for the entire school and the theater. During the time in high school (sneaking into bars that would let us play being underage on weekends). After we graduated from high school we would play bars and clubs. It was fun, exciting and we made a little money doing something we loved. The customers which included bikers were always great to us because they wanted entertainment. If anyone tried to mess with us they are surrounded by bikers who loved their rock and roll…thank goodness.

Rock music may remain underground but I hope not…

keith Richards.jpg