Jerry Lieber died a week ago today. Lieber was the lyricist in the Lieber and Stoller songwriting team that penned so many classic pops songs – Hound Dog, Love Potion No 9, Yakety Yak, Stand By Me, Spanish Harlem, Jailhouse Rock and many, many more. (See here for an extensive list of the songs that they wrote together.)
The Guardian obituary of Jerry Lieber describes the songs of Lieber and Stoller as “ingenious miniature soap-operas that conjured, in barely two and a half minutes on one side of a 45rpm single, whole worlds teeming with private eyes, bellydancers, junior hoodlums and put-upon schoolkids”. Indeed they were. This idea, a story told in under 3 minutes, is a peculiarly American phenomenon. I’m sure that those more up to date in pop culture than I could point me to several modern examples – especially though probably not exclusively in Country music, but how many British songwriters can do this? Not many since the Beatles I fancy.
So, to celebrate and commemorate the work of Jerry Lieber, I’m posting Ry Cooder’s version of the classic (sorry, this word is overused today but no other word is appropriate here) song, Stand by Me.