Grief is a lonesome but loyal friend. I lost a brother when I was seventeen. His name was Jay. He was three years younger than me and was born paralyzed from the chest down. He was an incredible person, full of joy and laughter in the face of a life of physical trials that most humans will never encounter. I started writing songs in college as a way to deal with the loss. In those early years, I only wrote one song explicitly about him, and have struggled to do it again in the following fourteen years.
After writing and recording “Ring the Bells” with my friends Abner and Amanda from Johnnyswim, I got a taste of the big anthemic song, something that has not been a big part of my songwriting and performing over the years. But I knew it was in me. For a long time I had this line I wanted to put in a song, “Don’t eulogize on my behalf, I’m a long way from my epitaph,” but couldn’t find the home for it, musically.