Billy Stewart

Sitting in the Park

Composed by Billy Stewart

Song Review by

Washington, D.C., native Billy Stewart's soulful vocal approach, given to stunning flights of soaring falsetto fancy and "word-doubling" syllabic excursions that he unleashed most memorably on his unorthodox 1965 treatment of the normally placid George Gershwin evergreen "Summertime," was every bit as distinctive as his massively constructed physique (one of his earliest solo outings for Chicago's Chess label in 1962 was a seemingly autobiographical "Fat Boy," co-written by Stewart and his pal Bo Diddley). Thanks in large part to Phil Wright's splendid arrangement, the marvelously relaxed "Sitting in the Park," cut December 14, 1964, at Chess' 2120 South Michigan Avenue studios, is one of the purest and most mesmerizing examples of Stewart's uplifting vocal magic. Guitarist Gerald Sims (one source cites Pete Cosey in the integral fret role) peels off airy licks on the intro that hypnotically wind around and through the male vocal group's falsetto cries before Stewart gently tells his hypnotic tale of patiently waiting on a bench for his beloved, unsure of whether she'll ever appear. This was classic Windy City soul with decided pop potential, and both markets responded positively: "Sitting in the Park" peaked at number four on Billboard's R&B lists and made a sizable pop showing as well during the summer of 1965. In 1980, GQ changed precious little from the original arrangement and ended up with almost as big an R&B seller as Stewart had. By then, the big guy had been dead for a decade, the victim of a tragic 1970 auto wreck in North Carolina.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1965 Chess 3:03
No Image 1987 Chess
One More Time: The Chess Years 1990 Chess 3:15
No Image 1991 Huub
Classic Rock: On the Soul Side, Vol. 2 1991
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:17
The Beach Music Anthology 1992
Various Artists
Ripete Records 3:15
Art Laboe's 60 Killer Oldies 1993
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:15
Lowrider Oldies, Vol. 4 1994
Various Artists
3:15
Chess Uptown Soul 1997
Various Artists
Kent 3:13
Brown Eyed Soul: The Sound of East L.A., Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
East Side Story, Vol. 3 1997
Various Artists
East Side Records 3:16
I Do Love You 1997 Universal / Universal Special Products 3:16
Brown Eyed Soul: The Sound of East L.A. [Box] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
Reverb Oldies 2000
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:15
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Billy Stewart 2000 MCA / Chess/MCA 3:20
Collection 2001 Connoisseur Collection
The In Crowd: UK Mod R&B Beat,1964-1967 [RPM] 2001
Various Artists
Decca
In Crowd: Ultimate Collection 1958-67 2001
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:16
Lowrider Oldies Chrome, Vol. 4 2001
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:15
Lowrider Oldies, Vols. 1-9: Cruisin' Chrome Series 2001
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:15
Soul Spectacular! The Greatest Soul Hits of All Time 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 3:36
East Side Story, Vol. 1-12 2002
Various Artists
East Side Records 3:16
Lowrider Oldies, Vol. 4-6: Cruisin' Chrome Series 2003
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:15
Chess Pieces: The Very Best of Chess Records 2005
Various Artists
Geffen / Universal 3:16
Oldies Forever 2005
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:15
60's Soul Sensations 2006
Various Artists
Music Club Records 3:19
Sweet Soul Music: 1965 2008
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 3:16
Chess Chartbusters, Vol. 1 2008
Various Artists
Spectrum Music / Universal 3:15
A Complete Introduction to Chess 2010
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music Group International 3:17
Smooth Soul [Time Life] 2012
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:17
Georgie Fame Heard Them Here First 2015
Various Artists
Ace 3:15
The Essential Billy Stewart Black Tulip / Traditions Alive 3:16
blue highlight denotes editor's pick