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Song Anniversary: The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You”

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chrissie Hunde of The Pretenders performs at the Greek Theatre on September 3, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Every now and then, a song comes along that would help a person weather through personal darkness. And in 1994, the Pretenders delivered such a tune.

That tune was “I’ll Stand by You”, and it was the second single released from the band’s sixth album Last of the Independents. Frontwoman Chrissie Hynde wrote the song with songwriting team Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, who would use a melody from a song by Johann Sebastian Bach. The song became a top twenty hit on the pop and modern rock charts (their first since 1986’s “Don’t Get Me Wrong”), as well as cracking the top ten in the UK and Australia.

But most of the success of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You”, was found not as much as chart performance, but as its legacy as an anthem for helping those through dark times, especially through covers from other artists through the following years. One such cover came from Carrie Underwood, who cover the song on the show and album Idol Gives Back, with money from sales and downloads donated to charities helping underprivileged children.

Other versions also include those from Patti LaBelle, Shakira, and Amber Riley (during the tribute episode of the late Cory Monteith). The Pretenders’ version was even used to bring light to a cause as well, as it has been used for the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

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