The second I hear Stephen Christian’s voice break through the silence via the new Never Take Friendship Personal Live in NYC album, I’m instantly swept into a world of nostalgia. I’m 18 and hearing them for the first time, as “Stationary, Stationary” rings through my car speakers, carefully placed between Relient K and Jack’s Mannequin tracks. I’m 19, and listening to Cities for the first time, after a friend let me borrow their CD because this was an album I just “had to hear.” (I never did give that album back. Sorry, Nick.) I’m 20 and in line to see them at Warped Tour, 21 and attending a life changing show in Providence….before I know it, I’m 25 and seeing them perform at Warped Tour, knowing it may be the last time I ever get the opportunity to hear these tracks live.
For most Anberlin fans, they had the opportunity to say goodbye to the band they’d grown to love during their recent farewell tour. For me, I was one of the unfortunate ones attending the Toronto show. I was visiting for two months, and was thrilled to see my favorite band in a city I had so quickly grown to love. But a horrendous snowstorm stranded the band in Buffalo and unfortunately, the show was cancelled. I never got that moment to properly say “goodbye” to a band that had influenced me so heavily over the years, so for me, this album is the next best thing. Because throughout the years, there’s one thing that has held steady: the feeling of inspiration that even now, eyes closed, swaying to the music, I can’t help feeling overtaken by.
Isn’t that the wondrous thing about music? The musician creates it from their own memories and experiences, and then it touches the lives of all who listen. One life touches so many others, before long, one song has created millions of tiny little memories, and united us all in the most unexpected way. It’s beautiful.
To a band that shaped me, a band that made me who I am, a band that had more influence over the course of my life than they may ever know: thank you. You’ve changed the lives of millions, and while I’m only one of the many you’ve influenced, I could never fully express my gratitude, except to say that you are all a brilliant inspiration. You’re all beautiful, and I’m better for having been introduced to your music, and having had the chance to interview you throughout the course of my career. Because it’s not just your music that’s inspiring—it’s all of you. Your struggles, your triumphs, your positivity, your ambition. I’ve never before met such an inspirational group of people. And all of this is what inspires me to be the best possible version of myself.
There will never be another Anberlin, but there will always be passionate bands with talent, ambition, and a message worth spreading, and for each and every one of those I will always think back to the band that started it all for me. A band with so much passion, that you can’t help but get infected by it yourself. And for the nights I’m feeling nostalgic, or wishing I could drive out to the next Anberlin concert, well, I’ll just flip this album on, close my eyes, and there you’ll be.
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