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Warning: this might get a bit deep, personal and emotional. I’m not going to re-read it or edit it. It’s straight from the heart and I have a feeling it’s going to be quite a long one too.

Music has always been a big part of my life – I can listen to a certain album and be reminded of a specific time in my life. For example, MxPx’s “Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo” reminds me of 1998 as I started uni in Lancaster. Therapy?’s “Troublegum” reminds me of playing pinball on my French exchange trip in 1995. Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” brings back memories of my friend’s early death and of my Dad’s fight with cancer.

Memories are gifts, we receive them by spending time with friends and family. Sometimes we get some crap presents that we don’t really want, likewise we’re not immune to crap memories either. Past regrets and mistakes have a way of lodging themselves in your memory banks and coming up to kick you in the nuts when you least expect it. I’ve had a few months of that recently…

If I could take what I’ve learned
From all the mistakes I’ve made
From the pages that I’ve turned
From the lost games that I’ve played
I’d be a better person for it
Better than deciding to ignore it
It meant so much to me

MxPx – ‘Misplaced Memories

I can’t change the past. None of us can. And as awful as some of my past has been, I don’t actually think I’d want to change it. Yes, I’ve hurt people and been hurt myself; I’ve done some stupid things that even 10 or 16 years on I still can’t explain why or come to forgive myself. So why wouldn’t I want to change it? Well, it’s been written down in history and it’s as much a part of me as all the great things I’ve achieved. Music is like that too; every song I hear is a part of my life in some way. Whether that’s to remind me of a particular place, to remind me of friends who are no longer here or to give me support when I’m feeling down – it’s all a part of what makes me who I am.

At different times the same song can have totally different meanings. Take, for example, Paramore’s “We Are Broken”. During the good times it’s a reminder that there’s a great God up there, wrapping His arms around me to keep me safe day to day. And in the bad times…:

My mouth is dry with words I cannot verbalize
Tell me why we live like this
Keep me safe inside
Your arms like towers
Tower over me
‘Cause we are broken

Paramore – ‘We Are Broken

…it’s as though my heart is screaming out that I know I’m a failure but I can’t quite explain why, or put it into words. I just know that I’m broken and need fixing.

I’ve written a lot of songs in my life and when I read back through the lyrics I can easily recall how I was feeling or what was going on around that time. Some of it good, some of it bad, some of it just plain silly! I’d love to know what was going through the writers’ minds when they penned the songs that have helped me over the years but, to be perfectly honest, I have enough of my own memories and thoughts already linked to the songs.

Those who know me well will know that my social circle isn’t particularly huge, but the friends I do have are, quite simply, great. Just like music gives me support and helps me out, I have a few great friends who do the same – and in recent weeks and months, they have been the best gift I could have ever asked for.

So as a musical gift to my friends, here is Pennywise with “Bro Hymn”:

Ever get the feeling you can’t go on
Just remember whose side it is that you’re on
You’ve got friends with you till the end
If you’re ever in a tough situation
We’ll be there with no hesitation
Brotherhood’s our rule we cannot bend

When you’re feeling too close to the bottom
You know who it is you can count on
Someone will pick you up again
We can conquer anything together
All of us are bonded forever
If I die you die that’s the way it is

Pennywise – ‘Bro Hymn

So, G is for Gift – the gift of music and of my friends. The future’s going to be awesome – because we’re going to make it that way!