I think it scared me a little, as a kid —
the emotionality, the near-religious gravity.
I mostly heard “storm” and “be afraid.”
I sensed that it was about something big.
Now it’s come round again,
in a 1963 version by Gerry and the Pacemakers
that probably didn’t get much play on our shores
so it sounds old yet fresh to my ears.
That recording, in fact, was enlisted by the Dutch DJ
Sander Hoogendoorn to comfort Europeans
fearful and house-bound as we are here in the States,
broadcast simultaneously on March 20th
on hundreds of radio stations from Finland
to Romania, Luxembourg to Spain.
There’s a new video of the old song that fits
perfectly this moment of the pandemic.
The video, which you really must see,
features a couple of dozen different
people miming Gerry Marsden’s vocal,
men and women, adults and children, some funny
but all of them sweet and profoundly moving
as they throw themselves into their part of the lyric,
letting some essential innocence and vulnerability,
which we all feel so keenly now, shine through.
My body gets sad having to hold itself
at a distance from so many I love. Doesn’t yours?
These stand-in’s, with their serious working class
faces, throw their arms around each other, sway together
as they sing in that old familiar warm way
we’ve suddenly lost. The lonely have
always known that touch is the true wealth. Wouldn’t
you give anything now just for a good hug?
—Thomas R. Smith