Last updated: 9 july, 2010 - 12:21 GMT

Art and Culture

Stand By Me

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What is it that makes a song achieve mass appeal?

The series Greatest Hits of the World examines two enduring songs that have crossed boundaries and generations. In the first programme, Paul Gambaccini looks at the song Stand By Me by the artist Ben E King.

Ben E King

When the night has come
And the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we'll see

No I won't be afraid,

No I won't be afraid

Just as long, as you stand
Stand by me

Ben E King considers some of the reasons for the song's popularity: "It's the simplicity. The words. The feeling. I like to think of it has no tricks within the lyrics... It tends to fall in place for someone who needs it."

Co-written and first recorded in 1961, the song Stand By Me is appreciated and loved by millions. It has been covered by the likes of John Lennon, U2 and Kenny Lynch, and even Muhammad Ali.

What continues to make it a hit 48 years after its debut?

First broadcast on 9 July 2010




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