SONG OF THE WEEK – BESIDE YOU

There has been a lot of Christmas music played these last few weeks, on the radio, in shopping malls and public buildings, on our Pandora playlists.  I enjoy hearing the songs, but many are played so frequently that they begin to lose their original meaning.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I have heard some singer or other telling me to have a merry little Christmas when ‘faithful friends who are dear to us, they gather near to us once more.”

After hearing those lines several times, I began to think of the old song, “Faithful Friends,” by the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble.  Its lyrics tell us that while words come easy, like the wind, faithful friends are hard to find.  That is a valid point, so I briefly thought “Faithful Friends” might be a good Song of the Week.  I abandoned that idea, though, because it is not a great song, and it sounds very dated today – more than 45 years after it was recorded.  Also, the song tells us that it is important for us to distinguish “faithful friends from flattering foe,”  and that is not the sentiment I wanted to convey here.

Instead, I have chosen a song from the group’s third album, Roll Over (from 1971), by which time their name had been shortened to the New York Rock Ensemble.  The song is entitled “Beside You.”

The New York Rock (and Roll) Ensemble presented a completely different approach to “classic rock.”  Originally a five-piece band, three of the members – Michael Kamen, Martin Fulterman and Dorian Rudnytsky – were Julliard trained classical musicians, while the other two – Clif Nivison and Brian Corrigan – were accomplished self-trained rock guitarists.  At times during their concerts and recordings, Kamen would step away from the keyboards and play his oboe or English horn, Fulterman would put down his drum sticks and pick up his own oboe and Rudnytsky would trade his electric bass for a cello (or sometimes a trumpet or French horn).  The group often wore tuxedos while performing.

As mentioned, “Beside You” is from the group’s third album, after Brian Corrigan had left the band.  It is one of the songs that features the woodwinds and cello with Nivison’s acoustic guitar.  On its most obvious level, it is a romantic ballad.  However, it can also remind us that our faithful friends are those in whose presence we can experience a quiet and enduring peace.

The song is also appropriate for this season of the solstice as we “listen to the sunrise and feel its growing light.”

The New York Rock Ensemble quit recording in 1973.  Since then, the two members who have been best known are Michael Kamen, who composed the scores for more than 50 major motion pictures1, including several in the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon series, Mr. Holland’s Opus and 101 Dalmatians; and Martin Fulterman, who changed his name to Mark Snow, and also composed for television and film, most famously for the series X-Files.  Michael Kamen died after suffering a heart attack in 2003, but I believe that all of the other band members are still ,living.

Beside You
By Martin Fulterman (Mark Snow) and Michael Kamen

We’ll follow the river
Down to the stream
That’s where my dream began
I left my worries to people who stare
And dreamed without a care
That I’d always be beside you
To watch the day and night
And we’ll listen to the sunrise
and feel its growing light
And peace will come inside
So quiet.

Another town a thousand cheers
Been on the road one million years
Some say it has to be that way
But not for me I want to say
That I’d always be beside you
To watch the day and night
And we’ll listen to the sunrise
And feel its growing light
And peace will come inside
So quiet.

Yes I’ll always be beside you
To watch the day and night
And we’ll listen to the sunrise
And feel its growing light
And peace will come inside
So quiet.

© Universal Music Publishing Group

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  1.  “Beside You” is featured prominently in Robin Williams’ 1988 film, What Dreams May Come  It seems that for some reason, the original score for that film was rejected just weeks before it was to be released, and Michael Kamen was recruited to re-write the score.

 

8 thoughts on “SONG OF THE WEEK – BESIDE YOU

  1. Louis, I have always liked this song, perhaps because it was part of the sound track for What Dreams May Come, (as you mentioned), a movie I thoroughly enjoyed. I have a memory of seeing the NYRE in Mackey Auditorium at CU. They played with the CU symphony (or the Boulder Symphony?). I can only imagine that I went on a recommendation from you and that you were probably there. Watching them move from Rock n Roll instruments to classical instruments and then back was fascinating. I have only seen classical musicians in a symphony play with such enthusiasm and energy a few times. ( a concert by the BSO led by Seiji Ozawa at Tanglewood comes to mind). Thanks for posting this classic.

    • I, too, remember that concert. That was the second, and last, time I saw the NYR&RE. I first saw them in Denver the previous summer – and I wrote about that in an earlier post, which is here. I was impressed with the group then, and I think I told everyone I knew that they should go and see how they played with a symphony orchestra. Certainly their brand of rock is more symphonic than most.

      And speaking of movies, I was thinking that “Beside You” was also in the 1971 “electric western” film, Zachariah, but I can’t find anything to confirm that; and my memory isn’t always to be trusted.

  2. I saw NYR&RE in Beaumont Texas at Lamar University. No one had heard of them but we had several great bands come through Beaumont. I took a chance bought tickets sat on the floor and like all that were there, was completely blown away. Unbelievable talent! Have original albums and now CD’s.

    • I agree that they were very impressive in concert – at least the two times I was fortunate enough to see them. Thanks for stopping by, Mark.

    • Elizabeth, Thanks for your comment. I believe that the world would seem a better place if more people woke up to this song, and took a moment to listen to the sunrise.

  3. Moved to read these comments after all these years. Music is a unique language — very grateful some of those sounds we produced made you over here happy to this day. Always enjoy music!

    Dorian
    New York R & R Ensemble

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