Stand by Me Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Stand by Me Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Music Poster Image
Classic '50s hits bring back fun, yearning of the era.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

"Yakety Yak" and "Get a Job" are catchy classics that reflect teen-vs.-parent conflict. Other songs are much more upbeat, with pop messages of romance or, as in Ben E. King's "Stand by Me," something stronger and deeper.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" is one of the all-time classics of love, steadfastness, and need; the world could crumble, sings King, but "I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear, just as long as you stand, stand by me." The characters in the other songs don't rise to this emotionally heroic level, but for the most part they're dealing with fun or minor troubles in a positive fashion. The grumpy teens in "Yakety Yak" and "Get a Job" may need an attitude adjustment, but adults and teens may find common ground, or at least something to discuss, in their plight.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Mild (by today's standards) innuendo, as in Shirley and Lee's "Let the Good Times Roll," which has various lyrics along the lines of "rock me all night long." "Great Balls of Fire" was considered pretty racy in its day, in some part because of Jerry Lee Lewis' enthusiastic delivery.

Language

Even Jerry Lee doesn't exceed "goodness gracious, great balls of fire!" here.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while the movie Stand by Me and the Stephen King novella on which it was based are fraught with adult themes, the soundtrack is classic '50s/early '60s pop, a note-perfect audio snapshot of the world in which the action unfolds. There's sexual innuendo in some of the lyrics -- Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" with its lyric "You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain / Too much love drive a man insane," etc.,  and "Let the Good Times Roll" with "Feels so good when you're home / Come on baby, rock me all night long." There are also two of the original misunderstood-teen 'tude tunes: "Yakety Yak" and "Get a Job."

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What's the story?

You don't need to know anything about the coming-of-age drama Stand By Me to appreciate this soundtrack, which does its intended job of bringing to life the feel and vibe of '50s/early '60s small-town life through the music that kids of the time used as a soundtrack and a lifeline. For those who grew up with these tunes, it's an instant flashback; for younger listeners, it's a window into a different era.

Is it any good?

The Stand by Me Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album draws a few complaints for its short running time (23 minutes) and the fact that its 10-song list leaves out a few tunes that appeared in the movie. That said, it's hard to find fault with a single track in the collection, which includes not only pop confections -- "Lollipop," "Mr. Lee" -- but all-time classics: Buddy Holly's "Everyday," Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire," the Del Vikings' "Come Go With Me," and Ben E. King's lush, heartfelt title song.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about "Yakety Yak," "Get a Job," and whether they still reflect common conflicts between parents and kids.

  • Do you like the song "Stand by Me"? Have you heard other versions? Why might other artists find this song appealing?

  • If you've seen the movie Stand by Me, do you think it does a good job of using the music to help create the atmosphere and tell the story?

Music details

For kids who love pop

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