Side by Side
Updated: Jun 3
Few people have impacted me more deeply than Jeff Wood, who first wrote and shared Side by Side with the world back in the 1970s. I was privileged to collaborate with him on numerous projects in recent years and loved his kind, inclusive, steady ways.
My dear friend and fellow musician Dan Franklin shared this rich memory of Jeff with me:
The year is 1971. it’s a Friday evening on the campus of PUC and we’re in the student center singing songs. Jeff Wood, myself, and several other musicians are leading the music. I’m sitting next to Jeff and I hear Side By Side for the first time!
That same year Max Mace brings the Rose City Singers to PUC for a Friday evening vespers concert. I’m working on the campus audiovisual staff and am asked to go down to the church and let the group in to set up. I meet Max for the first time and he asks me if I would like to help him set up the sound system. What a privilege!
When people like this “leave” too soon, I wonder why them and not me.
The Rose City Singers eventually became the Heritage Singers, the group that made Side by Side a multi-generational inspirational favorite around the world.
It’s been an extended season of losses for many of us. To me, Jeff and Max were beloved friends, revered mentors, and second fathers. It has been almost ten years since I lost my own father, and the void just grows bigger with time. I recorded Side by Side at a time when I was thinking about and missing them all deeply and wishing I could have them back. I’m sure there’s someone you wish that about too.
It just seems right for Side by Side to be my first release. It signifies letting go of precious people, yet embracing the hope that we’ll get them back again someday under much better circumstances.
Jeff spent much of his life behind the scenes as a media producer, director, and songwriter. Meanwhile people around the world sang Side by Side in churches, around campfires, on beaches, by lakes, and on mountaintops with their hands clasped together and raised high in beautiful demonstrations of love and unity.
I can't wait to clasp Jeff and Max's hands someday when we're once again standing side by side.