In 1969, Melanie Safka — better known, simply, as Melanie — performed at Woodstock. And slightly more than 50 years ago — in March 1970 — the Long Branch native released, with backing by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, a joyful song about that experience, “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” The title of the song refers to the the candles that Woodstock audience members lit as she performed.
It was her first hit single, and made Billboard magazine’s Top 10.
Under the name The Asbury Park Love Contingent, singer-songwriter Karen Mansfield and producer Steve Greenwell have put together a socially distanced but impressively passionate and infectious version of the song, featuring Mansfield and seven other Asbury Park-based musicians. You can watch the video for it, below.
Their goal, as stated on their Facebook page, is “to bring much needed love, light and positive inspiration during these dark and difficult days.”
The song also, coincidentally, brings up the subject of illness, and healing through music: “We were so close, there was no room/We bled inside each others wounds/We all had caught the same disease/And we all sang the songs of peace.”
Mansfield shares lead-vocal duty with Tara Dente (who also plays guitar) and Emily Grove, and they are joined by Mikael Jorgensen (of Wilco) and Arlan Feiles on keyboards, Jack Daley (who has played with Steven Van Zandt, Lenny Kravitz and many others) on bass, Jules Drucker on guitar and Santo Rizzolo on drums.
The Asbury Park Love Contingent is offering the song for free but asks that donations be made to the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission, which provides food, shelter and services to those struggling with addiction, poverty and homelessness.
NJArts.net’s Songs to See Us Through series is designed to spotlight songs relevant to the coronavirus crisis and encourage readers to support the artists who made them (and won’t be able to generate income via concerts at this time). Click here for links to all songs in the series.
We encourage artists to email us submissions (newly recorded, if possible) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include links to sites such as Patreon and Venmo. Readers can also make suggestions via that email address.
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