I was sitting on my couch watching some news coverage of the Corona virus. The anchor closed the segment with a heartfelt expression on his face telling us to remember that, “We’re all in This Together.”
I smiled to myself thinking back to a song I’d written almost 30 years ago. And then another anchor on another network said it. And then another. And another. And another.
A little while later I was in my downstairs office and the phone rang. It was a friend and supporter of Music for the Soul. She said, “Steve, you should write a song about the virus.”
That’s when I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should go back and take a look at that lyric.” When I did I was astounded. I couldn’t believe it. Every word fit. It was as if it had been written for this time.
On March 19th I decided to reach out and call Lynne McCleery the song’s publisher in Palm Springs, California. Lynne was the one who’d originally asked me to write the song. When she answered I said, “I’ll bet you know why I’m calling.”
Lynne replied, “We’re all in this together.” She’d been hearing it too.
We weren’t sure if we wanted to do anything with the song but since neither of us had a sound file of it on hand we decided to at least try and see if we could dig that up and then maybe go from there. We both agreed that if anything came from sharing the song we’d want any money generated to go to COVID19 relief.
When I hung up I saw that while on the call with Lynne, Patti Austin’s manager Barry Orms had sent me an email saying,” Patti would like to possibly sing the song again in regard to Corona virus.”
Patti Austin is a Grammy Award winning jazz and pop vocalist, perhaps best known for her duets with James Ingram (How Do You Keep the Music Playing? and Baby. Come to Me) and Michael McDonald (On My Own). She had sung We’re all in This Together in Washington DC in 1992 as part of the NAMES Quilt memorial presentation remembering people who had lost their lives to AIDS. Lynne had taken a team to DC and shot some video of Patti’s magnificent performance.
We thought maybe we could pull the audio off of an old DVD Lynne had that included the song so I had her send the DVD to engineer extraordinaire Kent Hooper at The House of Big in Franklin, Tennessee. But when we listened there was a portion of the track during an instrumental section of the song where Patti could be heard reading names over a loudspeaker. No matter what edits we tried we couldn’t get the talking out of the track.
In the meantime Lynne had come across a copy of the instrumental track on an old digital audiotape (DAT) of the song. DATS don’t hold up well and the source tape was full of static. Miraculously though, the four measures we needed to replace from the DVD were crystal clear!
Kent ‘repaired’ the track and we uploaded it to Sound Cloud where it generated more than 500 plays in just a few days.
Then, Randy Kartchner, the arranger who’d worked on the song 28 years ago, called me up and said, “Steve, we’ve got to do a new recording. I’ll arrange it and produce it for free and I’ll get all the musicians to donate their time.”
What happened next actually reflected the message of the song, as people from all around the country came together to create a new recording. Over the next several days Randy recorded the piano part from his home in Maryland. Musicians in Nashville recorded the rhythm tracks in their homes. The orchestra, recorded in Salt Lake City, was recorded three players at a time in multiple sessions stretched out over two days to respect social distancing guidelines. Meanwhile, Patti sang new a new vocal in Los Angeles. Then all the parts were sent to Kent Hooper for a final mix.
Since there was no marketing budget Lynne and I knew the best way for people to hear the song was for us to create a music video.
Lynne and I put out a call to friends for help. We received photographs and video images from as far away as England and Australia. Lynne knew a professor who taught film at the College of the Desert in California. He recommended Carli Holland, one of his students, as a possible editor for a video. Holland was able to combine video from around the world and some still shots into the final piece.
There were several other people – from Colorado, Nevada, New York, and Georgia – who dispensed helpful information, connected us to the right people, consulted about social media, and in general helped pull this all together.
“This Helped Me”
At times throughout the process I felt conflicted. What was our motivation for doing this? I didn’t want to be sharing this song just to gain attention for Music for the Soul. But then I saw a young lady on TV talking about how she’d lost her father who was only fifty. She described him as her north star. She’d not even been allowed to see him in the hospital before he passed.
As I was praying for her I thought of the line in the song, ‘Every star will shine forever.’ It made me think of all those who’ve lost loved ones. I thought ‘Maybe the song will help someone who needs to know that their loved one’s life still matters.’
Then I thought of all the front line heath care providers, risking their own safety to serve others.
I thought, ‘Maybe the song can help encourage an overwhelmed doctor, nurse, or hospital worker.’
And as I watched the music posts proliferate on social media I realized that the public’s response to the pandemic was proving exactly what we believe at Music for the Soul, namely that when people are hurting, music matters. It’s cathartic and healing. It stirs hope and provides comfort. It is food for the soul that’s hungering for community, hungering to feel known and understood. Hungering to not feel alone.
We’ve heard from hundreds of people but I think the response that has blessed me the most so far is just three simple words. “This helped me.”
I pray that as the message of We’re all in This Together continues to be shared that it will help others, especially those who are grieving or feeling overwhelmed.
Please stay safe and keep the faith. Like the song says, ‘As long as we don’t give up we’ll reach the horizon.’
– Steve Siler
If you’d like to stream or download We’re all in This Together click here. Proceeds from download purchases will go to COVID19 relief.
To watch the music video click here.