20/365 – ‘Then He Kissed Me’, The Crystals (1963) – 365 Days of Music

Ah, Phil Spector.  I still feel a pang of guilt for loving all those songs you produced now it’s been proven you’re a murderous bastard.  Alas, music is timeless and as this specific song proves, without great girl groups like The Crystals, your music would not be half as incredible.  Discovering soul music in the form of Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production method was a revelation for my teenage mind.  That glorious, sweeping orchestration, blended with the soul vocals and instrumentation so common on records of the 1960s – it is heavenly. 

I first heard this song when I watched the Martin Scorsese film ‘Goodfellas’ for the first time.  From then, I was hooked.  The song itself is so simple – in melody and in lyrics.  But as with so many soul songs of that era, its effect goes beyond its simplicity. 

“He kissed me in a way that I’d never been kissed before / He kissed me in a way that I wanna be kissed forever more”

Beautiful.  The minute I hear that intro, I’m gone.  That Bruce Springsteen has often covered it (neatly changed to ‘Then She Kissed Me’) in his live sets makes it just that little bit more special.

9/365 – ‘Stand By Me’, Ben E. King (1961) – 365 Days of Music

What can I say about this song that hasn’t already been said?  This is one of my favourite songs of all time.  So powerful, so moving, so memorable, so beautiful.  Originally based on a spiritual hymn, ‘Lord Stand by Me’, King worked with the famous songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to create this soul masterpiece.  I remember listening to this song quite early in the 90s and I then learned the song on piano when I was 9 or 10-years-old.  A couple of years ago I saw the 1986 film, ‘Stand By Me’, based on a Stephen King novella about four American kids in 1959 who go on the search for a missing boy.  The use of ‘Stand By Me’ at the end of that film – a film about growing up, the innocence of youth and friendship, and life’s cruelties – gave the song whole new meaning.  I fell in love with that film and urge you to watch it if you haven’t done so.

In times of sorrow, in times of joy… this song has stood by me.