We have all lost so much over the past month since the coronavirus pandemic started moving through our nation. As news rolls in about people swept away to death by the storm of the coronavirus, I pause and think, “What’s left when they are gone?”
Heroes in the health care system perish, like my son’s friend’s mom, who was an emergency room doctor and won’t be home tonight to celebrate Passover, or residents of nursing homes who won’t be able to celebrate Easter or watch grandchildren graduate due to the devastating losses in institutional settings. So many stories cut short. Then there’s the onslaught of celebrity deaths, including one that hit hard last night — John Prine, one of our finest songwriters, who battled cancer twice but succumbed to coronavirus.
I think back to my own sadness when I lost both of my dynamic parents within one year. Certain songs created a calming playlist for me, including Judith Silver’s version of “Gesher Tzar Me’od,” originally written by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. “The whole world is a narrow bridge and the important thing is to not be afraid,” she sings. It teaches us to keep moving forward, no matter the odds.
Then Ed Seifert, one of our local musicians, steps in and answers the nagging question, “What’s left?,” with his haunting song, “Only Love Remains,” which he submitted to the Songs to See Us Through series. Written in 2017 and shown, below, in a performance by his band Ed Seifert & the Stimulus Package, it resonates for him, and me, during these very different days.
Seifert — who lives in New Milford and also plays with the bands Speed the Plough, The Campfire Flies and Yung Wu — shares his spiritual lyrics with a hurting vocal quality that is deeply moving when he sings:
Only love remains, not the sorrow, not the pain
They might tear it down again, but only loves remains
Only love survives, not the loss and not the lies,
Open up and dry your eyes, ‘cause only love survives
Only love endures, of this I’m certain, this I’m sure
If it’s true and if it’s pure
Only love endures.
In the video, which was shot in 2019 at PonderRosa Studios in Lafayette, he is accompanied by the gorgeous harmonies of Connie and Kathy Sharar, plus Carol Sharar on violin, Bernie Stapleton on bass and Gary Hagen (who also frequently performs with his wife, Loretta Hagen) on guitar. (The Stimulus Package has a fluid line-up that usually features percussionist Ray Pellecchia, but he is not playing in this video).
“I hope it serves as a reminder that in any time of loss, especially one as profound as this, we can retain what’s at the heart of any relationship, the emotion of it,” Seifert. “No relationship lasts forever, if only because nothing is promised or guaranteed in this world. ”
He added: “The song came to life when Connie and Kathy Sharar started singing with the band. I hope it provides some light and release for people who are going through a tough time.” Along with their sisters Linda and Carol, Connie and Kathy comprise the Sharar Sisters musical group, who have played all over New Jersey and elsewhere, sharing stages with Pete Seeger, John Gorka, Dar Williams and others.
Seifert and the Stimulus Package have been performing for more than 10 years in New Jersey. Hailing from Bergen County, he plays guitar and harmonica and usually writes songs “of heartbreak … well, once or twice joy,” he said.
“I just don’t like writing novelty songs, with few exceptions. I feel if I’m going to write a lyric, I want it to be something you can feel.”
So kick back and listen to his song and I am certain that you will be filled with emotion.
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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