Jimmy Glass' Song: Jackie Wilson's 'Because Of You'

13 hours ago
Originally published on February 22, 2021 7:24 pm

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


My dad loved anything Northern Soul. He grew up in England in the 1960s and '70s, when Northern Soul music was popular. He had a hard childhood, growing up in foster care and on the streets. I believe this music helped him through hard times in his life. At aged 57, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and he listened to his music during many hours of chemotherapy. When he was suffering with COVID-19, he also turned to his music. The music made him happy and made him want to dance. One of the songs I know he loved was "Because Of You" by Jackie Wilson. He never told me why he liked it but after listening to the words of the song, I believe it's for my mother, who saved him. But my mom insists they saved each other.

The song "Because Of You" by Jackie Wilson reminds of the time my dad and I were sitting in his living room after he was diagnosed with cancer and he told me this was his favorite song. I wrote it down in my notes section of my phone because I knew it would be important to remember. We ended up playing it at his memorial service. It also reminds me of how my mom and dad met, my dad was only 21, young, and trying to find his way in life; my mom was 32, divorced and also trying to find her way. They helped each other find their way in life over 40 years. —Catherine Glass, daughter

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The United States hit a devastating milestone today - 500,000 people now dead from COVID-19. That's according to the tally kept by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Well, while infections have been falling and vaccinations have been ramping up, about 2,000 people are still dying from the virus in this country each day. President Biden led the nation in remembering and mourning those deaths this evening at the White House.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I know it's hard. I promise you I know it's hard. I remember. But that's how you heal. You have to remember. And it's also important to do that as a nation.

KELLY: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith is here now. And, Tam, what else did we hear from the president tonight as he marked this moment?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Well, it was certainly very somber and heavy. Five hundred thousand is a huge number, and each one of those numbers is a person. It's a loss. And Biden said that Americans need to resist viewing these deaths just as a statistic but instead to focus on the individuals who died.

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BIDEN: And I know that when you stare at that empty chair around the kitchen table, it brings it all back, no matter how long ago it happened, as if it just happened that moment when you look at that empty chair - the birthdays, the anniversaries, the holidays without them and the everyday things, the small things, the tiny things that you miss the most.

KEITH: At one point in his remarks, Biden was almost whispering, saying, you're going to be OK; you're going to be OK, which was a message not just to those who have had a loss but, I think, more broadly to the nation as a whole. After these remarks, he went outside, and the Marine Band played "Amazing Grace" as he and the first lady and the vice president and the second gentleman held a moment of silence. There were 500 candles on the South Portico of the White House, and the White House says that those represent those 500,000 lives that have been lost.

KELLY: It's such a marked contrast to his predecessor. Talk, Tam, about how Biden has approached this part of his job, leading the nation through what was previously unimaginable; leading the nation through such grief.

KEITH: Biden is someone who, as part of his political story, has very personally and publicly grieved and experienced loss. And he is bringing that to this job. And in a way, a president is always supposed to be the consoler-in-chief, but Biden does this more personally and more intensely. And, you know, before he took office even, the night before his inauguration, he held another ceremony - that was just a month ago - to mark 400,000 deaths. And now it's 100,000 more. And obviously, this is a big contrast with President Trump, who - although he would say, we mourn the lives lost, it was sort of a throwaway line. He didn't want to linger on it. Biden is lingering on the loss.

KELLY: He is also ordering flags lowered to half-staff at federal properties for five days. What's the significance of this?

KEITH: Well, one day for each 100,000 deaths. And if states and private businesses follow up on this - and cities - then that will be a lot of flags at half-staff to remind the public of the seriousness of the threat of this virus. And President Biden is certainly encouraging people to do all the things - to wear masks, to socially distance and to get vaccines when possible.

KELLY: Thank you, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome.

KELLY: NPR's Tamara Keith reporting on a solemn ceremony tonight at the White House to mark a horrific milestone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.