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No studio, no mixers, no lights, no amplifiers: when Cover Story Doo-Wop sings “Stand By Me” under the Bethesda Terrace arches in New York’s Central Park, it’s their talent and deep feeling that carry us away.
“I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear,
Just as long as you stand, stand by me.”
It’s little wonder that Ben E. King’s 1961 classic touches a nerve: there’s something pure about the vulnerability and faith expressed by the song. If my Loved One is here, it declares, no calamity is too overwhelming to face. It’s both a recognition of a blessing bestowed and a plea for it to be sustained. It’s deeply optimistic, but it also recognizes how fragile good fortune really is.
Maybe it’s that emotional honesty that makes “Stand By Me” a part of so many singers’ repertoires, and allows each performance to feel unique. Cover Story Doo-Wop, a New York City group founded in 2012, certainly makes the song their own. Singers Herman Leath, Charles Owens, Jerome Cohen, Billy Chavis, Lamont Baker, and upright bass player Todd Grunder put so much heart into their rendition that one could almost imagine that King had such an ensemble in mind 60 years ago.
Hope this makes you smile as much as it does us.