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Lyrics from 'One by One,' written by Connie Converse, will stay with you


Sometimes when you hear a song, it can move you in unexpected ways. We're asking some of the folks who report on music here at NPR which set of lyrics from the past year stayed with you?

TOM HUIZENGA, BYLINE: I'm Tom Huizenga from NPR Music. This is a deceptive little song way off the radar called "One By One." And it was written by Connie Converse. The backstory is pretty crazy. Connie Converse was a singer-songwriter who had a brief flicker of recognition in the 1950s. But she never cut an album. And in 1974, at age 50, she disappeared. And she was never heard from again. But it appears on soprano Julia Bullock's recent album.


JULIA BULLOCK: (Singing) We go walking in the dark.

HUIZENGA: This little song describes a couple walking out at night, but they're not together. And the lines go, it's not as lovers go - two by two, to and fro - but it's one by one. And then something really amazing happens at the end of the song. It shifts from dark to light, from this disconnection to the possibility of hope in these lines that go, if I had your hand in mine, I could shine. I could shine like the morning sun.


BULLOCK: (Singing) If I had your hand in mine, I could shine. I could shine.

HUIZENGA: It makes me think of our very precious and yet really precarious connections that we have to each other as human beings, as friends, as colleagues and lovers. And, you know, one of the disconnections that I felt myself over the last couple of years was that I lost my dad last year to COVID. And I couldn't be with him because there was a lockdown where he lived. So I lost that physical connection with him when he passed. And a lot of other people have experienced the same thing or just other disconnections from COVID, from politics, from whatever. And this song, you know, for me is just a little pain - or love song to all the disconnected souls out there who are yearning for love and human contact at a time where it's difficult sometimes.


MARTÍNEZ: The song is "One By One," written by Connie Converse, sung by Julia Bullock. Tom Huizenga is NPR Music's classical producer.


BULLOCK: (Singing) We go walking in the dark. We go walking... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.