Today, beloved Boston-area singer-songwriter Mark Erelli has released “You’re Gonna Wanna Remember This”, the lead single and video from his forthcoming LP, Lay Your Darkness Down, due out on February 3rd via Soundly Music. Erelli co-wrote the epic track with his “musical big sister,” Grammy-winning artist Lori McKenna.
In the summer of 2020, Erelli was performing an outdoor show in New Hampshire when something strange happened. “I looked down and couldn’t see my fingers on the guitar,” he told The Boston Globe. “I’m literally about to go into the downbeat for the solo, and, as you can imagine, it didn’t go great. It was embarrassing. I came offstage thinking, ‘Note to self: Check the lighting next time.’” Later, when driving home one night through a Boston tunnel, he lost sight of the road. After a trip to the ophthalmologist, Erelli was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (“RP”), a degenerative eye disease that causes progressive loss of night and peripheral vision, and can lead to complete blindness.
After his terrifying diagnosis, he began to wonder – Does diminished eyesight decrease one’s insight? What does it mean to be ‘fully seen,’ by oneself and by others? These questions, along with his drive to regain his creative agency, are at the heart of Lay Your Darkness Down. The video for “You’re Gonna Wanna Remember This” features footage of Erelli’s family, and his beloved pup Leo, whom he adopted during the pandemic. He and Leo traverse the verdant countryside–the video’s edges blurred at times to mimic his vision–acknowledging life’s struggles, but taking stock of the beauty of even the simplest of things.
The tracks, though decorated with references to shadows, light, and obscured vision, are about resilience, love, and the human condition. The album is more than a collection of affirmations and optimism in the face of despair; it is a clarion call for anyone lost in the shadows. Yet Erelli doesn’t proclaim any easy answers for how to navigate the unknown. Instead, he squarely examines question after question, reveling in mysteries both great and small. With equal parts hope and resignation, he reminds us in the title track that our deepest challenges are more than a simple test of our endurance—they ultimately help us chart our course.
Lay Your Darkness Down is a reconciliation of life’s trials and human frailties, adversity transformed into finely-embroidered rock n’ roll, burning with urgency. “These aren’t songs about blindness. They’re songs I could only write once I realized what I was losing,” Erelli explained to The Boston Globe. “My impending blindness opened my eyes, and I was able to write from that new viewpoint.”