The Harry Potter films had almost everything. They had magic and adventure. They had a story beloved by children and adults. But they did not have a Bruce Springsteen song, although they could have.
Bruce Springsteen offered his song “I’ll Stand By You Always” to the franchise, but filmmakers turned him down. Reportedly, Springsteen wrote the song between 1998 and 2000 after reading the first Harry Potter book to his eldest son, Sam. He then made the song available to director Christopher Columbus for either Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
Springsteen explained to BBC Radio 2 that “I’ll Stand By You Always” “was a big ballad that was very uncharacteristic of something I’d sing myself.” He added, though, that “it was something that I thought would have fit lovely.”
The song’s rejection had nothing to do with the quality of the song. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s contract stipulated that no commercial songs could be used in the movies.
“I’ll Stand By You Always” almost had a second life when Marc Anthony planned to include it on his album Mended (2002). But ultimately Anthony left the song off the album.
In Springsteen’s demo version, “I’ll Stand By You Always” is a quiet ballad. The lyrics contain no overt references to Harry Potter, but they do sound like they were written from a parent to a child.
I know here in the dark tomorrow can seem so very far away; Here the ghosts and the goblins can rise from your dreams to steal your heart away; Together we’ll chase those thieves that won’t leave you alone out from under the bed, out from over our home; And when the light comes we’ll laugh my love about the things that the night had us so frightened of; And until then,
I’ll stand by you always, always, always.
Around the time that Springsteen was shopping the song to the Harry Potter folks, a CD-R with the song was given to some executives at Columbia Records. But the song is not generally available. Springsteen’s demo of “I’ll Stand By You Always” hit the Internet for a brief period recently, but for now it is gone.
Springsteen does tend to release old songs eventually, so we may still see an official release of “I’ll Stand By You Always.” But until we do, you may imagine how the song might sound along with Conan O’Brien (“Let’s raise our wands to all the wizards and steel workers. . . “).
For Valentine’s Day, consider two lessons one may eventually learn about love. First, love is finite. Second, “love” is a verb.
First, remember that all love is finite. No matter how much you and your partner love each other, there is a good chance that one day you will lose that living connection to that person. Maybe your lover will leave you. Maybe you will leave your lover. But even if you both stay devoted to each other for the rest of your lives — unless you both happen to die in your sleep on the same night next to each other — one of you will go first, leaving the other alone.
All love is eventually lost. That is true whether we are talking about an amorous partnership, a family member, or a pet. We eventually lose all of our loves.
I know you are thinking, “Hey, it is Valentine’s Day, why are you being so depressing?” Well, one reason to recognize the limits on our love is so every day we prepare ourselves a little for that day when the end comes. You will never be prepared, but if you believe love is infinite, then the heartbreak, when it is sure to come, may be worse.
More importantly, another reason you need to remember that love is finite is so you will appreciate it when you have it. If you take a moment every day to remember that every day will not be like today, you will enjoy today and your love a little more.
The second lesson is to remember that “love” is a verb. This lesson comes from the singer Dion.
In his memoir Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth, singer-songwriter Dion DiMucci recalled one day when he was young and facing marital difficulties, he ran into the priest from his neighborhood. The priest asked how he was doing. The troubled Dion responded that he thought he was no longer in love with his wife. The priest replied something to the effect, “Then love her. Love is a verb.”
We too often think of “love” as a noun, as in, “I’m in love with this person.” If you look at “love” as a noun, you see it is a magical thing that happened and is beyond your control. That may be fine, but if you see it as a magic potion, then some day you will be surprised to discover that magic potions fade.
As Gretchen Wilson has told us, sometimes there are days when one may not feel like loving the person they love.
If instead of thinking of yourself as “being in love,” you recognize “love” is a verb. Then, you see love as a choice and obligation. Every day, “I choose to love you,” not “I happen to be in love with you.”
Thus, when things get rough, remember that you can still love that person even if you don’t feel like it in the moment. And if you are lucky enough to have somebody or something to love, treasure each finite moment. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Photo by Chimesfreedom (at the British Museum). Leave your two cents in the comments.
The 2017 Grammy Awards had several highlights. While much of the buzz is rightfully upon amazing performances by the likes of Beyoncé, Adele, and A Tribe Called Quest, one wonderful performance that did not get so much attention was Sturgill Simpson and the Dap-Kings performing Simpsons’ “All Around You.”
Simpson and the Dap-Kings make a perfect fit. And, they were not thrown together by the Grammy folks as an attention-getting pairing. The Dap-Kings, who attended the Grammys for a tribute to their former lead singer Sharon Jones, played on Simpson’s 2016 album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.
Check out Simpson and the Dap-Kings kicking it at the Grammys on “All Around You,” a song Rolling Stone described as “a tale of uplift in the face of adversity.”
“All Around You” is from Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Simpson wrote the album as a letter home from a man to his wife and newborn son. Working on the album, Simpson was inspired by his own time in the Navy, his separation from his own newborn while touring, and in a letter his grandfather wrote. A Nirvana song also helped develop the album’s themes.
Simpson’s performance was not the only highlight for him last night. He also took home the Grammy for Best Country Album. And then, after the show, he celebrated with a stop at In-N-Out-Burger.
I am not sure why it has taken me until this far into our “Gospel Songs by Pop Stars” series to write about “Spiritual” because I love this song. Johnny Cash, of course, recorded a number of religious songs though his career, but this one recorded near the end of his life stands out for me.
“Spiritual” was written by Josh Haden, son of great jazz bassist Charlie Haden. There are other excellent versions of the song, including one of Josh singing on his father’s 2008 album, Rambling Boy. But Johnny Cash’s version from his 1996 Unchained album gets me every time.
The song starts slow and hypnotic, gradually building to an emotional cry of pain. Beautiful.
“I Like the Christian Life,” The Byrds
The Byrds, under the influence of Gram Parsons, recorded “I Like the Christian Life” for their Sweetheart Of The Rodeo (1968) album. The excellent album is largely credited as a major catalyst for the country-rock movement, and “The Christian Life” was a cover of a classic Louvin Brothers song for the hippie crowd.
On a rock record, one might expect the song to translate into tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, but the song feels genuine in its praise of living a simple Christian life. It is hard to imagine an album by a major pop group including a song like this one today.
Originally, the Byrds recorded the song with Gram Parsons singing lead vocal, but a dispute about Parson’s contract with another record company, the Byrds replaced Parsons’s lead vocals on some of the songs. Some believe that the change was also motivated by the band’s concern that the album was becoming too much of a Gram Parsons project.
So, the official album version featured Roger McGuinn’s vocals dubbed into the lead. Both versions are excellent and appear on re-issues. Below is McGuinn’s version that was originally released on the CD.
For comparison, below is a rehearsal take featuring Gram Parsons singing lead.