Jimmy Glass, 60: Jackie Wilson's 'Because Of You'

Feb 22, 2021
Originally published on February 23, 2021 7:06 am

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

My dad loved anything Northern Soul. He grew up in England in the 1960s and '70s, when Northern Soul music was popular. He had a hard childhood, growing up in foster care and on the streets. I believe this music helped him through hard times in his life. At aged 57, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and he listened to his music during many hours of chemotherapy. When he was suffering with COVID-19, he also turned to his music. The music made him happy and made him want to dance. One of the songs I know he loved was "Because Of You" by Jackie Wilson. He never told me why he liked it but after listening to the words of the song, I believe it's for my mother, who saved him. But my mom insists they saved each other.

The song "Because Of You" by Jackie Wilson reminds of the time my dad and I were sitting in his living room after he was diagnosed with cancer and he told me this was his favorite song. I wrote it down in my notes section of my phone because I knew it would be important to remember. We ended up playing it at his memorial service. It also reminds me of how my mom and dad met, my dad was only 21, young, and trying to find his way in life; my mom was 32, divorced and also trying to find her way. They helped each other find their way in life over 40 years. —Catherine Glass, daughter

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This week, we're remembering some of the half a million people in the U.S. who have died of COVID-19 through the music that gave their lives meaning. We're calling our tribute Songs of Remembrance. Today Cathy Glass remembers her father, Jimmy Glass, from Winter Springs, Fla., and his favorite song, "Because Of You" by Jackie Wilson.

CATHERINE GLASS: My dad was raised by his mom in England, but had a presence of a father. And she had manic depression, but she was treated as a schizophrenic. So every 18 months, she would deteriorate and have to go back into hospital. So he was in and out of foster care since the age of 2, I believe.


GLASS: In 1980, when he was 21 and my mom was 32, she had just separated from her husband. And my mom was working behind the bar where my parents met. He came in, and my mom said, oh, look at that young man. And, you know, he was good-looking. And they ended up the next day basically moving in together (laughter).


JACKIE WILSON: (Singing) 'Cause when I was down and out, just like a mother, you took me in - sweet baby.

GLASS: Everyone said it wouldn't last because my mom was much older and he was younger, but it lasted, and they were together for 40 years.


WILSON: (Singing) 'Cause we've got love on our side. We're gonna let love be our guide. And it's all...

GLASS: He was always a truck driver. And I would actually go in the truck with him if my mom couldn't watch me because she was working or there was no school. So I would go in the truck with him, and he would play the music.


WILSON: (Singing) Because of you.

GLASS: In 2018, he was diagnosed with Stage IV small cell lung cancer. We were sitting down, listening to his music because that's what he liked to do. That's what got him through the challenges in his life. And he sat down with me, and he said, this is my favorite song. And I wrote it down in my notes of my phone because I knew it was something that I had to remember.

I had to listen to the words until I played it at his memorial service. And I realized that this was a message to my mom and how she helped him be the man that he was supposed to be. And my mom said my dad saved her because she was spiraling and not doing well in her life at that time.


WILSON: (Singing) You put together all of my dreams that were once shattered and torn apart. You've got to be...

GLASS: They were able to come together and have a family and - a family that my dad never was able to have as a child.


WILSON: (Singing) 'Cause we've got love on our side...

GLASS: The line says, 'cause we've got love on our side. We're gonna let love be our guide all because of you. And I think that's what guided them throughout their whole life was just the love that they had for each other, and the love that my mom still has for my dad.


WILSON: (Singing) Woah, yes, I am because of you.

SHAPIRO: That's Cathy Glass remembering her father, Jimmy Glass, who was 60 when he died of COVID-19 in June of last year. And you can visit our tribute, NPR's Songs of Remembrance, at npr.org.


WILSON: (Singing) Got to make you my wife 'cause I was lost and going in circles when you found me - oh, yes, you found me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.