Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jukebox: MONA - "Stand By Me"

Ben E. King based his famous '80s hit "Stand By Me" off of an old Christian spiritual, and the underlying connotations lent the song an unusual darkness. Though it bounced along on sunny guitar strums and cherubic string arrangements, King suggested more was on the line. He didn't deliver the title so much as he begged it, his voice fraying as he asked his "darling" to stay by his side--perhaps his love, perhaps his God, but who really knew?

The original left the tension as subtext, but Nashville rock outfit MONA brings it to the forefront on its haunting, visceral cover of the song, commissioned for the upcoming season of Hannibal. Church bells echo through the periphery like relics of a world lost, while frontman Nick Brown dwells on the apocalyptic implications of the lyrics, his drafty tenor wafting over the understated horror of each image. The further in we get, the more vividly the song draws the nightmare, adding in ominous bass drum, ghostly gospel harmonies, and arid guitar lines--and the more fervent Brown's voice grows, from a pained coo to a bone-chilling yowl. "Here comes trouble, won't you stand by me?" he thunders near song's end, a question rendered ethereal but impossible to deny.


  1. Amazing cover. Very haunting.

  2. I didn't realize how dark the original song was until I heard this version, but it really does work perfectly. Thank you for reading! :)

  3. Great review of a beautiful cover.