Sunday, May 03, 2015

Song of the Week: "Save the Last Dance for Me"

Ben E. King died on Thursday at the age of 76. He sang a lot of great "3AM songs." I'll never forget the first time I heard "Stand by Me" on Oldies 104.3. It was late at night and I was secretly up late, somewhere about 10 years old, with my radio quietly on, just enough to hear but not enough to fill the room. And then that song and that voice just rang out of the darkness and hit me. It made me feel good and warm and I was able to drift off to sleep calmly. A couple of years later, I had the soundtrack to the movie Stand by Me and could hear the song whenever I wanted.

As a kid, I didn't always know who sang what, and I was surprised to find out Ben E. King was in the Drifters when I was a little older. He was in the second incarnation of the Drifters, and not for very long, and even then he was forbidden by his manager from touring with the group, recording with them only before parting over a royalty dispute and pursuing his solo career.

This song is another of those great 3AM songs, with King's lead tenor piercing through the darkness, and that great, soft production by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrapping it up in a warm coat. This was the time when Phil Spector was working for Leiber and Stoller. You can hear the future of music on this beautiful record.

Thanks for your voice, Ben.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

added to my fortnight in review