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When I was in high school, I (like most others around 2001) found an album which absolutely blew me away. Musically it was a lot of fun, vocally it was something I’d never heard before and lyrically it spoke to exactly what I was going through at the time. I’m talking about Taking Back Sunday’s triumphant debut Tell All Your Friends, made possible in a large way by guitarist/vocalist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper. After leaving TBS, and with the help of John’s sister Michelle and long time friend Will Noon, Straylight Run was born.
Some time around 2003 the band released 5 songs for free online, something not so common at the time. I downloaded the songs with much excitement, and though they weren’t what I was expecting from ex-members of TBS, I was thrilled by what I heard.
The next year they released their debut album which in my mind is still one of the greatest debut albums from a band in the past decade. It was so smart, so solid; these were mature musicians painting on a brand new canvas.
My favorite Straylight memory has to be seeing them play live at the now defunct Club Rockit in Toronto on Friday, October 22nd 2004. After a great opening set from Say Anything, a band by the name of Hot Rod Circuit almost ruined the night for everybody. They spent an hour and a half attempting to do a sound check while everyone waited patiently, and they did not make things easy. They spent the whole time complaining and arguing, and by the time they were ready to play everybody was sick of them. They ran through a few songs and left the stage, and I, like most people in the room, were severely frustrated by the whole ordeal.
That is, until Straylight Run hit the stage. I was with some of my best friends; Michael Vickers, Mike Lardner, and Johno Brown. We sat on the floor of the balcony, peering through the protective barricade, watching with wide eyes. In terms of musicianship, this was one of the best shows I had ever seen at that point in my life. There were many moments in my life which further fueled my desire to be a musician, and I can say with confidence that this was not only one of those moments, but one of the most direct. You could tell the band loved what they were doing and that the songs were more than just songs; they were overt expressions of life seen through their eyes and a way to express things they wouldn’t normally say. This is something I respect about John Nolan to this day.
Following the debut album was an EP called Prepare to be Wrong. I heard it, and enjoyed it, but I had already heard past versions of most of these songs and there was really only one new track which really struck me.
I was a huge fan of this band, but for some reason, after this release, I stopped paying attention to Straylight Run.
This happens. You listen to bands, and you stop listening to bands. But the reason why I feel the need to mention this, almost as a confession, is that Straylight Run recently broke up, stating that ‘a band is a business and when business isn’t good you can only keep going for so long.’
I write this as a formal apology. To the members of Straylight Run, I am sorry. I am sorry that I, a fan of your music, stopped listening. That I stopped supporting good music which I thoroughly enjoyed; music which inspired me. In reading those words, I couldn’t help but feel responsible. But I also hope you realize that even though things didn’t end on a high note, your music really did make an impact in people’s lives and your songs will never die. You made a difference, and I thank you for that.
I apologize for the long rambling note which most people may read as overly dramatic, but it’s a frustrating realization that good music isn’t being heard (or even created) these days because it’s so easy to download an album without giving monetary support to bands or artists who need that support to continue creating music.
If you’re going to take anything away from this (though I’m sure most people have stopped reading by now), support the bands you listen to. I’m no angel, I download music, but if I enjoy it what I’ve heard to free, I will buy the album. If I enjoy the band, I will go to a show, and I will buy merchandise. I will sing along and let them know that what they do is appreciated.
It’s a shame that good music is dying.
Ps. If you can find the EP version of ‘It’s For The Best’, I highly recommend it. My favorite Straylight track.
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