For the One I Love…


Below you may listen to (and download if you wish) a new song I wrote for the one I love.

Well… not NEW new… I wrote it last February 14th, which was the 30th anniversary of my first date with Nanci-Lynne Bell (nee Traub).

As the story of our coming together goes, Nance and I, who had been good friends for some time already, simultaneously  suffered  difficult and painful breakups with significant others.  In our support of one another, we were surprised to realize a deep affection growing between us, and on Valentines Day, Feb. 14 1982, we went out for dinner to discuss if it was socially appropriate to let that affection blossom.  Suffice it to say, we were married (voluntarily 🙂 ) seven months later.

That was three beloved children, one beloved foster daughter, two beloved daughters-in-law, one beloved son-in-law, two fantastic grandsons, two adored foster grand-daughters, and one terrific foster grandson ago.   Somewhere in the Bible it says that a man is blessed, whose quiver is full of arrows.  And indeed, I am blessed; I am gratefully satiated. If there were nothing more, it would be enough. Dayanu!

Pez Ladies
Pez Ladies

I could easily rhapsodize about many of Nanci’s attributes: Her beauty speaks for itself. Some of you already know of her capacity for risk and love of adventure;  her willing faithfulness to  duty and obligation; her edgy humor and sometimes searing wit;  her love of gardening and sense of style;  her collection of LadyPez dispensers;  her way with food, with children, and her compassion for the socially marginalized – especially teenagers.


But, especially for those of you who have appreciated my music over the years, you should probably know it was Nance who first really believed in it. After ten years slugging it out as a side-man in the night clubs, I hung up my guitars  and got a job that for several years provided some financial stability for our family – something we had never known.  But I was miserable.  And it was Nance who convinced me to return to what she knew I was uniquely on the planet for. It was Nance who assured me we would be fine, and that she could handle the vulnerability. It was Nanci who arranged for friends to come over and to pray for our children – to bless them to let their father go, and equally to welcome him home again. And it has been thus ever since.

That was 17 CDs and 1500+  concerts ago.  And although Nance has complained about certain of my peculiarities over the years, she has not ever, not once, complained about the burden of loneliness and labour that her encouragement would cost her.

And so… to the song: 

For a few years I’ve had a partial song kicking about that I could never finish. It was a simple chorus  inspired by a Richard Wilbur  poem that  described so perfectly what I wanted to say:

There’s a certain scope to that long love
Which constant spirits are the keepers of
Though often said to be tame and staid
Is a wild sostenuto of the heart
A passion joined to courtesy and art.

It speaks of a love no longer primarily marked by “high romance” and “bright perseids,” but  rather, by the quality of something made, “like a good fiddle /  like the rose’s scent.”

And so I secretly arranged for us to go for dinner at a favourite restaurant.   And when Nance left for work that morning, I grabbed my guitar,  and the fragment of song I had already started, then added the verses to complete what I wanted to say.

And here it is.  Thanks to Joey Landreth and Murray Pulver for coming down to the studio yesterday to help me record a listenable version – and to Dave Zeglinski for taking the time to record and mix it.

Thank you, Nance for decades of love and friendship. Thanks for partnering with me in this life. I wouldn’t have it any other way… not for a second.


click arrow below to hear song:




Long Love  (Valentines 2012)

music and lyric by Steve Bell
chorus adapted from Richard Wilbur’s poem “For C.”

Well it’s been thirty years of dining with you love
And we’ve been feasting on the stuff that life’s made of
We have shared the finest fare
And we have known the cupboard bare
But it’s been good
So very good

Do you remember how we promised we’d grow old
Now we have children who have children of their own
Because my musing needs a home
I have found a partial poem I think will do
To sing to you:

There’s a certain scope to that long love
Which constant spirits are the keepers of
Though often said to be tame and staid
It’s a wild sostenuto of the heart
A passion joined to courtesy and art
Like a good fiddle, like a rose scent
A stained glass window – or, the firmament
Like a square-dance lady and her square-dance gent
It’s a long love, a long love
Which constant spirits are the keepers of

And may I say you’re still a babe and lookin’ fine
Seems you’ve been cheating on the ravages of time
And I already rue the day
When it’s time for me to say
So-long to you
So-long to you

There’s a certain scope to that long love
Which constant spirits are the keepers of
Though often said to be tame and staid
It’s a wild sostenuto of the heart
A passion joined to courtesy and art
Like a good fiddle, like a rose scent,
A stained glass window – or, the firmament
Like a square-dance lady and her square-dance gent
It’s a long love, a long love
Which constant spirits are the keepers of
It’s a long love, a long love
Which constant spirits are the keepers of

And I already rue the day
When it’s time for me to say
So-long to you
So-long to you

courtesy of my grandson, Luca (4 years).


43 thoughts on “For the One I Love…

  1. How beautiful. It made me smile reading about you and listening to your wonderful song of love. God Bless You Both 🙂

  2. Steve, you are unique with your ability, your fearlessness to share your life with others. All your stories make you very dear to your “people”. Thanks for your honesty and courage. It makes it easier for the rest of us to live in honesty and truth in our lives. God Bless you and Nanci and may you have 31 more years togehter.

  3. That was beautiful Steve. NancI, I for one would like to thank you for sharing your hubby with all of us who love his music and singing. Gosh Steve, you have been blessed with an amazing talent when it comes to song writing. I know that God gives you the words but it’s how you tie them all together so that one matches the other. You told the story of your love for Nanci all the way through this song and it touched my heart over & over from the beginning to the end.

    My prayer is that God will give you both at least another 30 + years together here on earth, after that you will have each other for Eternity.

  4. having been married for 48 years this year this song is so true and wonderful.
    My husband just gave me a card that said he was never letting go…….Many more happy years to you

  5. To know and to have a love such as the love you have for each other, the love you share, indeed makes you very rich and wanting for nothing except to be in love forever more. Congratulations and Happy Valentine’s Day.(I do love the Pez Ladies collection and the beautiful song 🙂

  6. We enjoyed your story of love, we find it interesting that in this world of relationships Love still prevails, the Love of God is the strongest Power on our earth. May God Bless you in your Ministry Steve, you have certainly touched many with your wit, talent, and dedication to our Lord. We love this song and look forward to hearing more of your music. May you and your wife enjoy another 30 years and then some together.

  7. Such a beautiful song and a lovely way to honour your commitment and love for each other..Happy Valentines Day to you both and your family. Steve and Nancy,in this day and age, it is lovely to see your example of steadfast love. Thank you for sharing.

  8. What a beautiful story. Steve You are so talented & Nance, you are so fortunate to have such a love.

  9. Is it not wonderful to have someone you love so much that it is a nice comfy feeling,. Even when the not so good stuff comes along we have each other to lean on. Like you I do rue that day when it comes. I thank God for the ministry He has entrusted to you. Ipray that He would continue to bless and encourage you both as He has done for Bonnie and I. Appreciate you Bro.
    Gerry & Bonnie

  10. Thank you for sharing your marriage journey and especially the song. Congrats to you both for your “long” love.

  11. Nanci and Steve, I can’t imagine our family without you. So glad for your love and lives together. I too pray you have at least another 30 years together.

  12. I’m so glad Nanci encouraged you to share your music with us. It is truly your ministry. Thanks to both of you.

  13. What a beautiful story and great work on the song. Steve your music has accompanied our family during some great times and some really challenging moments. The first time I met you was just after my sister died in 1996. I thank God for people like you who are able to touch other people with their special gifts. I am so happy you gave it another go and Nance is a great encourager! Many blessings to your family.

  14. T.hanks so for this posting and song, On this past Jan 10, I came downstairs to find my beloved Dave, my gatherer of millions of fossils; had gone to his father in heaven. We had been together for 40 years, so the words of your song are very prescious. Thank you for sharing your love and comittment to one another. thank you for your many songs which have been a great comfort to me over many years. My love to you both for many long and happy years together. Enjoy each day, as you cherish each other.
    You are in my prayers daily.

  15. Steve, your timing was perfect. Barb and I were holding hands and about to listen to your song when the phone rang. It was our daughter-in-law and our two granddaughters (1 & 3) calling to wish us Happy Valentine’s Day. After we said so-long we listened to the song. Barb and I have known each other for 42 years and the song rang true. We love the line “It’s a long love, a long love
    Which constant spirits are the keepers of.”

  16. Hi Steve and Nanci,

    Great story – not unlike our own. Our first date was the MET Youth Valentine’s Banquet in 1975. Today we celebrate 38 years since that young love took root and has continued to grow. God is good. Congratulations to you both!! – Randy

  17. Oh Steve! What a beautiful, artful and inspiring tribute to Nanci, both in word and song!! May Jehovah God continue to bless and grow your family in His perfect love, peace and kindness. May you continue to bless us with your wonderful gift of music and may you always remember the gift that Nanci gave to you in allowing you to be who God created you to be!!!

  18. A beautiful song written by a man who has found sensual,exciiting, romantic, lingering,comforablte and everlastingLOVE….

  19. Lovely Steve. As a serial marrier, I admire the constancy of yours, and the gifts your bring without resentment to one another. It’s inspiring. And there are a lot of guys whose wives would LOVE for them to write them a romantic song who’ve said “Guys don’t do that!” and aree now going: Thanks Steve. 🙂 Good on ya!

  20. A Long Love, a long love shares both the wonderment, everlasting and commitment even when the cupboard’s bare…the honesty and Luca’s hearts say it all. Thanks, continue living your dreams, an ambition in life that you daily live encourages and promotes the arts. As a painter I always hope that the painting I’m working on is my ultimate achievement but the secret is to constantly urge for renewal everyday beginning a new song/painting.

  21. Happy Valentines Day to two wonderful people. Delightful song – especially knowing what I know of the two of you. Well done Steve. Love to you both. Jodi

  22. love the story,musings and photos
    the song is such a lovely testimony to long love
    thank-you so much

  23. Thank you for posting this for Valentine’s 2013. May you and Nancy both continue to be blessed by the Love that came down for All, continue to be blessed by the respect and love you have for each other, and may your dear families and friends be that anchor to bring you home for rest and renewal. For those of us that simply enjoy and are grateful for your music , and being able to attend your concerts, thank you for your continued display of faith and courage in stepping out and away from your loved ones. (Look forward to when you are back in Halifax / Dartmouth your November concert in Dartmouth was just wonderful!!!.) Stay healthy and strong. Best regards and lots of love and appreciation from the good ole’ Merritimes!

  24. Hi Steve.
    It hardly seems possible That you are a grandfather, but then I think – o yeh I am a great Grandmother so where did the years go.
    Hopefully we will get to hear you again and not just on CD.

  25. Here’s to wild Sostenutos of the Heart!! May we all have them! Thanks heaps for sharing this with us dear Nancy and Steve! Blessings on your anniversary and always, Marilyn Jarvis, Vancouver

  26. Thank you so much for sharing the song you wrote for Nance. I love it!! It is encouraging and a blessing to realize that the two of you have honored your commitment to God and one another. What a great testimony to your whole family.
    Bonnie Shattuck, Vermont

  27. What a beautiful song and what a beautiful legacy you both have! We are celebrating our 40th Anniversary this year and appreciate the “certain scope to that long love, which constant spirits are the keepers of”. We have been your fans since we were all younger..followed you around wherever you appeared at church concerts..our family has loved your music, sang some of your songs in church. It always amazes me how your songs come together so beautifully…truly this is a gift from God…so glad that you use your gift to bless so many!! Keep on! Happy Valentines Day, you two sweethearts! Seems you both have been cheatin’ on the ravages of time…:) God bless you both!!

  28. LOVE this, Steve! Today, February 15th, is the 40th anniversary of the day my hubby asked me to marry him!! Almost 38 years of marriage, 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law and 3 grandsons and 1 lovely granddaughter!
    It IS a LONG LOVE … and I love it!!

    You know us …
    Camp Nakamun People!

  29. You are so blessed to have this long, beautiful relationship. May the Lord give you many more years together, each better than the last!

  30. WOW! That is super romantic. A very pretty melody too Steve. Poor Dave, we also are married 30 years this coming May 14th, and I think you might have put just a little pressure on him! HA HA HA!!! All the best to you two, Irene.

  31. Awwww, at 66 it might be too late to wish for a long love for sure, but a good shorter one would be SO appreciated.. Two husbands got what they needed, my teaching support as they realized their goals. And I got daughters!!!
    While in Vancouver this week at the B&B I had my throat treatment at The Van Gen Hosp. For a while I will sound like a tough Sicilian mobster! At the B&B was another guest, Josef from Israel. We spoke so easily, time flew as we shared. I really like him but there is little chance of seeing him again. It has been 10 years since I last loved, and I am settled in loving my grandsons, my sons-in-love and living through my daughters’ excellent marriages. It is better than nothing at all. Having a partner is one of the ways to love. I share my love through my photographs as Faye knows. I don’t yearn, or pine but live well, believing God will lead me to the right person in His own time.
    ” Be but your own good friend, and be kind to the others.Cherish those sisters and brothers along the road..
    I am one of those whose lives have been deeply impressed by your words, Steve, like psalms….
    Vernon BC
    PS has anyone else been to 5 or more of your concerts??

  32. Steve and Nancy, in honour of your years of loving each other well, some words Wendell Berry penned for his wife …

    “Sometimes hidden from me
    in daily custom and in trust
    so that I live by you unaware
    as by the beating of my heart,

    suddenly you flare in my sight,
    a wild rose blooming at the
    edge of thicket,
    grace and light where yesterday was only
    and once again I am blessed,
    again what I chose before.”

    – Wendell Berry (for his wife)

    I love this – thanks Colleen. ~ SB

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