Why I Made the Light Shine Video
by Wilbur Witt
My nephew sent me a song. He has a band, and they have been developing their sound over the last few months, sending me clips, and to be honest I haven’t heard them turn out anything bad yet! But this song struck me. The young man, Curtis Hooper, was sitting in a garage. In the beginning of the piece there is thunder, and at first I thought it had been mixed in until I remembered that we had just had storms a few days before and I noticed Curtis is sitting in a garage, which was classic!
His voice is riveting, reminiscent of John Fogarty, but not imitating. As he elevates the volume he slides into an old Memphis whiskey sound which punctuates and emphasizes the impact of what he’s saying. And what he’s saying is profound! The song is blended perfectly. It begins simply, like a prayer. From there it crescendos into into a perfect hook, “You can tread on me,” which sets up the title line of the piece. When Sean sent me the song he titled it, “Overcome,” but when I heard the song the very first time I knew the title had to be, “Let The Light Shine (On My Face).” This was the only edit I saw needed, and that came from my years in Austin and Nashville. I thought the title “Overcome” somehow diminished the power of Curtis’ voice when he sang those words.
The song does a perfect round, returning to its core concept once more, not laboring the refrain, but reinforcing it perfectly. The only guitar rift, if you can call it that, is at the very end and Curtis reinforces the theme of the song as it fades out.
When I heard the song I heard all these things. It was a master piece of songwriting. When you’ve heard, and written as many songs as I have you endure most of them, but I couldn’t stop listening to this one. The video that came with it was a simple one. Curtis was sitting in a garage. The mix was fairly good, even though I know it was a demo, I had no complaints.
Jackie didn’t pop into my head at first, I was going to just improve the imaging. I was so overcome by the song i was focused on Curtis, but then, as I worked on it and listened to what the song was really saying, I realized the anguish of the human condition was so there, weaved into the fabric of the lyrics that it was like a subliminal message to the soul. At that point I thought of Jackie’s story, but I didn’t think just placing the old pictures of her with her daughter would do justice to this song. I began to search my photos, and some of them leaped out at me. As Curtis sang, “You can tread on me” the first time, I put in a still frame of Jackie cocking her gun and winking at the camera. The classic defiant seventeen year old girl, ready to take on the world, with a full life ahead of her expressed all the exuberance of youth. With the words, “Let the light shine on my face,” she appears in a dark business suit, heading for court, a court that would intimately destroy her life. The next image is to the line, ” I will win this race,” and she is looking at images on a cell phone, pictures of her children that she would never be allowed to see again. Her smile belies the pain in her eyes, and she is pregnant with the child that would be ripped off her breast at birth.
With the line, “The writing on the wall” is sang we see the image of a twenty one year old woman, aged, and resigned. Curtis returns to the title line, and while he sings, “Let the light shine on my face,” he reinforces the resolve of the singer to overcome adversity, and as he does, iJackie cocks her gun and symbolically fires it at an unfeeling world.
The marriage of song and image is perfect. You don’t even have to know Jackie’s story to realize there’s something very emotional there, emphasized by the soul of the song so beautifully delivered by Curtis. This song gives me the same feeling that I get when I listen to Dylan singing “Times They Are A Changing.” Without going into a rant about the injustice Jackie endured, suffice to say this song, and this video expresses the heartbreak and resolve of all young mothers who miss their babies. Sometimes, in the vastness of the universe, two perfect notes are sung, and two souls merge for a brief moment to give the rest if us a heart rending message. Curtis and Jackie gave us such a moment, and we all should give them our appreciation. Thank you guys.