Singer-songwriter Rebecca Turner warms up the room with “You Are the Light,” recorded at her home in Maplewood, where she is grounded. She dedicates the song — written by Marvin Etzioni of the ’80s band Lone Justice — to “everyone out there working”; her stirring voice brings calm to an otherwise grim day filled with hearing about friends becoming sick while our president is threatening us with the premature re-opening of businesses and churches.
But then I listen to Turner’s voice bring sun back into the room. The simple lyrics she sings convey a strong sense of gratitude for the positive forces still working during the time of coronavirus. I am soothed by Turner as she sings:
You are the light in my dark world
You are the fire that will always burn …
Oh, how you shine in my time of darkness
Oh, how you shine when everything seems hopeless
You know how to help me
When I can’t stand on my own
Don’t let go now
“It can be about anything that keeps you going, really,” says Turner. “A person who you rely on, even from afar. Your spiritual faith. Even your own inner strength.
“I memorized it in the ’80s, and it’s meant a lot to me over the years. The woman who sang it originally, Maria McKee (of Lone Justice), is a big artistic idol of mine.
When I was singing it for this video, I was thinking of the doctors and nurses. People restocking grocery shelves. People who have no choice but to be at work now. People who are being true leaders and really making a difference. All the really brave people who are in the middle of this fight, in tough places that I am at the moment sheltered from.”
Turner’s husband, Scott Anthony — a bass player and the co-owner (with Turner) of the Storybook Sound studio in Maplewood — shot the video, adding a photo taken from inside a dollhouse at the end of it. It is meant to convey “the hopefulness of finally throwing open our doors at the end of this and being outside together,” said Turner.
During this harrowing time of pandemic, many of us feel concerned about the loss of economic security and the loss of connection with friends, family and workmates. We are experiencing a collective grief, and this song helps us remember those who help us get by, and those whom we hold up, too. Turner’s lovely, clear, emotionally resonant voice serves as a reminder that we are all connected.
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.
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