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To tie in with the movie Stand By Me, which was slowly but surely packing movie theaters during the fall of 1986, the inspiration for the movie's title, its soundtrack and a timeless classic in itself, the song Stand By Me, was re-released some twenty-five years after it was first performed, again with much success, once more entering the American music chart's top ten. Along with the release of this track, this music video was also produced which features early TV footage of the young composer and singer who made the song famous, Ben E. King.
Accompanied by the unmistakable melody of the song, the video then glides gracefully over a collection of publicity photographs taken from that period before arriving at one that is being held carefully and affectionately by a hand that clearly bears the lines of middle age. Panning back, the camera soon focuses on the owner of that hand - a much older King, who it is also revealed, is the real source of the singing that is currently being heard.
This transition is now completed and was carried out as smoothly as the beat of the music itself. The black and white imagery of the early recording of the song has been replaced. It is now obviously the mid-eighties and the statutory white-only audience of 60's America has been replaced by a gathering of altogether more contemporary looking people. Best of all, just look who is sitting in the front row....
"Just as long as you stand, stand by me."
Thoroughly enjoying the performance, River is accompanied by his best friend Wil Wheaton, a life-long friendship that began in Oregon during the filming of the movie Stand By Me. The music then continues to play over short clips taken from the movie itself.
Finally, King beckons the two young movie stars to join him on stage to finish the song together. And that's how we leave them, three individuals, the lives of each of them forever changed by one incarnation or another of "Stand By Me." All in all, the video represents three very short minutes of pure magic. It's 1986. River is playing his guitar and singing to people.
River Phoenix is happy.