In lieu of the current times, Steven Curtis Chapman felt compelled to write something that would help ease the uncertainty and hopelessness around the lockdown and loss associated with the recent pandemic and to support those affected by COVID-19. His offering is “Together We’ll Get Through This,” a song lyrically strewn to offer comfort, reassurance, and hope in a time of grief, upended livelihoods, and an uncertainty of the future.
“It’s not like the world needs another together song, but I felt like maybe I needed to write one more ‘together’ song,” says Chapman. “I did wrestle with the idea of, ‘are there newer, different ways to say those things?’ but this just really says it all.”
The five-time Grammy winning Christian artist enlisted Brad Paisley, Lauren Alaina, and Tasha Cobbs Leonard to add more depth to the soulful track. Proceeds from the track will benefit the Opry Trust Fund and Gospel Music Association in assisting those affected by the coronavirus.
American Songwriter chatted with Chapman about the making of the track, its universal meaning, the power of music—and this thing called technology.
On the writing process for “Together We’ll Get Through This”…
The writing process on this, like it is on any good song that I’ve hopefully written, is the moment of inspiration that begins the process. Often things going on in our world compel me to write a song, but this time it wasn’t like, “Oh what’s this song going to be? I gotta go write it.” I found myself hearing this word and this phrase, “we’re going to get through this together, we need each other, we need to work together, we need to come together.” And I was hearing those words coming from mouths of people on my television that weren’t normally saying things like that. Normally the words coming from a lot of the people on television were very divided and divisive. Now I’m hearing this language of unity and we need each other and something in that was just really refreshing to me. It was kind of like a little ray of light shining in a lot of darkness. I just thought, “I just want to kick the door open, so to speak, to more light, because we need it so much and that is the truth that we need.”
That was the beginning of the process for me, the inspiration. At that point, I just tried let the song feel what I was feeling, the panic. Looking and seeing the panic in my wife’s eyes, it was probably written about just thinking about my own family, because those were the people I was seeing mostly. If you can put real feelings set into the music, people are going to resonate with it and connect with it, so I was really just trying to talk about what I was feeling.
It’s not like the world needs another together song, but I felt like maybe I needed to write one more together song. I did wrestle with the idea of, “Are there newer, different ways to say those things?” but this just really says it all. As a songwriter, you come back to that and say, “I explored the options, I’m not going to hit the easy button but I’m also not going to avoid the things that tell it best if that’s really what tells the story best.”
On a verse that’s most meaningful…
If there’s a verse that’s most meaningful, it’s the second verse of this song: “I know it’s hard to fight an enemy when the sky is too dark to see, we can even start to believe we’re fighting with each other.”
I feel like that’s probably one of the most important things I wanted to say in this song because there is so much of a divisiveness in our world and our nation and in our communities now. There is so much that divides us, yet none of us really have the right answers. There is an enemy, I believe, who hates all things good and right and hates unity and relationships. We have to recognize that it’s not each other that we’re battling against and that we are all together. We may start thinking that we’re each other’s enemy, but we’re really not. I think that was meaningful, particularly to me.
On why he thinks we turn to music as a source of comfort in times of crisis like this…
I think we turn to music, because music reminds us in such a profound way that we are not alone. It’s what I loved about music as a kid. It even helped me connect with feelings that I would not know how to put into words. I think that is the gift of music and the power of music. I believe that’s part of the mystery and the miracle of music, the way God created it because it is something that can comfort us deeply. One of the reasons I believe God gave us the gift of music is for comfort and connection with each other to remind us that we’re not alone.
On how he has been able to connect with his fans through technology…
It has been amazing for me to be able to connect with my fans through this incredible technology. We’ve all, in the music business, said a lot of things about how frustrated we are with a lot of modern technology because of what it has done to the music business in a negative way. But the other side of that is in a time like this, we’ve seen that there are incredible ways to connect with each other like Zoom and social media. Artists have been able to connect with fans and friends that love their music and talk to them and tell them what they’re feeling. It makes them realize that they’re not alone and they have a friend in that person that they maybe listen to from a distance and see on stage off at a distance. Suddenly, they become a close friend through technology. They’re suddenly in their own living room talking to you, and you’re sitting in your living room, which is a pretty cool thing. I think that is one of the amazing things that has happened in this—the authenticity. People have been longing for that and responding to that even in the artists they have seen on album covers or on stages from a distance. It’s been pretty amazing to watch that.
On what inspired him to ask Brad Paisley, Lauren Alaina and Tasha Cobbs Leonard to be a part of “Together…”
I think having a song like “Together,” it only made sense that I would want to bring together some other artists to join me. One of the first I thought of was Brad Paisley just because I am such a fan. He’s an amazing guitar player and a great singer, and just a great man—as a family man, as a Christian, and someone who shares the same faith I do. We have crossed paths on a couple of occasions. Several years ago, he wore a T-shirt on “The Tonight Show” back when Jay Leno was still hosting that said “Show Hope” on it, which is the organization my wife and I founded and started that’s based here in Franklin, TN. Someone, I think it was actually my daughter, saw him in The Factory here in Franklin where our office is. He was at a coffee shop or something and she handed him a T-shirt from our office and said, “If you ever want to wear this shirt, this is a good thing. I know you love family and care a lot about family and this helps create families through adoption.”
He randomly ended up putting that shirt on and wearing it on “The Tonight Show.” I had gotten that story to him about how much we appreciated him through a mutual friend. Then we met at a Glen Campbell tribute concert. Both of us are huge fans, Glen was one of our guitar-playing, singing heroes for both of us and that connected us even more. I reached out to him on this song and just was amazed that he had the time and made the time to join me on it. I’m so honored. He did an amazing job.
Then there’s Lauren Alaina, another gifted, amazing country artist, who I watched back on her “American Idol” journey and just loved her and cheered her on with my family. She had a great voice, a great spirit, but also I knew that she was a Christian and she was vocal about her faith and continues to be. I appreciate that about her, so I felt like maybe we could connect, maybe this is something she would want to be a part of. She was honored and excited to do it, and that was incredible.
Then, I kept thinking it would be so awesome to have the passion and the power that a true gospel singer could bring. I thought that if I could get a gospel choir on there it would be an amazing song. I had done some awards shows, the Dove Awards and things like that with Tasha [Cobbs Leonard]. Again, I never worked with her before, but just was a fan from a distance. I love her music. She is a powerful worship leader and artist. I reached out to Tasha and she was excited as well and honored. Her wonderful husband Kenneth said, “We’ll go in the studio right now. We’ll drop everything we’re working on and do this,” because it really matters and it’s important.
I felt like they all said this is important to do and say and be a part of. They made it happen, and I’m so honored and so very grateful. I think they all brought themselves to this song. They brought something way more special to it than it would have been just me by myself singing a song about being together. I’m just thrilled, beside myself, and so thankful and grateful to have these three artists join me on this song.