Sooner or later, things will get better, and this dystopian world will show its joyful side again — that is, as soon as a vaccine, testing and tracing are developed through an effective public health system. That’s the optimistic dinner conversation in my house after digesting the latest stats that almost 11,000 people have died in New York from the coronavirus, and almost 3,000 in New Jersey.
Meanwhile we must find comfort at home, if we aren’t forced to leave our safe cocoon for work.
Indie rocker Glenn Mercer of the seminal Jersey band The Feelies submitted a video of his song “Sooner or Later” to our series, Song to See Us Through. The song, originally released on The Feelies’ 1991 album Time for a Witness, conveys a sense of the peace we feel while sheltering at home, but also the hope that this scary, uncertain time will pass.
“The overall sentiment of the song and title is a reference to the importance of maintaining hope when faced with overwhelming difficulties,” said Mercer.
The song’s frenetic guitars and great rhythmic grooves jolt me out of coronavirus blues. (Its sound reminds me of a cross between Lou Reed and REM; the former influenced The Feelies and the latter was greatly influenced by them).
Listen to Mercer’s new version in the clip below, shot in his basement studio in North Haledon, “where the Feelies rehearse and where we recorded our last record, In Between” he said. In addition, check out the band’s earlier version of this song in the clip below, directed by Jim McKay.
Mercer said that when he wrote the song, “I had been spending a lot of days on tour and I was missing my time at home. My wife and I were expecting our first child at that time so I was feeling even more drawn to the comfort of home.”
He added, “wanting to be home and having to stay home might be a lot different, but I think the concept of home as a shelter is appropriate right now. I also think the lyric about what we want versus what we need is important to remember. Overall, the sentiment is to be strong and to look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism.”
The edgy sound and tension in the song musically match our collective mood and concerns for when this pandemic will pass. Mercer sings:
Sooner or later, you’ll come around
Get yourself back up from the ground
What you want and what you need
What you got enough to succeed …
I don’t know what’s up ahead
Don’t think too much, it’ll hurt your head
Take a walk all over town
Curiosity abounds …
If we can find meaning during these difficult times, a renewed understanding of interconnectedness — or maybe just additional time spent on home projects and reaching out through virtual Zoom sessions — we can see the light that exists during this dark moment.
Mercer says that during this time, “I’ve been spending my time as I usually do, working on writing and recording music and songs.”
He also said he’s “doing my best to stay positive for my own peace of mind and to be a good husband and father. It’s important (for my wife and I) to provide emotional support for each other. Since I’m the only person she’s in contact with, I do my best to try to be in good spirits … even though our children are elsewhere, we speak on a daily basis.”
He says he finds comfort “in listening to music, either on the radio or on the stereo. Music has a way of transporting me to another time and place in my mind.”
Feelies music has been doing exactly that for people for decades, and the band continues to sound remarkably fresh at their rare concert appearances.
“We’ve had some gigs that need to be rescheduled,” said Mercer. “And performing live again is something that will most likely be redefined in some way or another. The future is unwritten, now more than ever.”
Mercer asks that to show your support for The Feelies, consider making a donation to Music Cares, MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund for Musicians, at grammy.com/musicares/donations. For more on The Feelies, visit thefeeliesweb.com.
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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