When I was 14, I was sent a song by my pen pal in Texas. It was a band from his state that he loved and he thought I’d like them.
The song was Calling You by Blue October and from that moment on, I was completely hooked. Every song felt like it had a direct line into the feelings I hadn’t even been able to accept yet, let alone talk about.
They quickly became my favourite band. Their music spoke to me in a way that other music couldn’t – I understood his anger, his confusion, his pain and the feeling of being completely lost.
“There’s a part of me seeking and desperately needing to open up.”
When I felt like my emotions were out of control, and I’d scare myself at what I would do next, I would listen to Justin and his words and realise not only am I alone, but there was an outlet for me. Creating. For me, it wasn’t lyrics, but poems and stories.
The first time I saw Blue October, I was 19 and I was in awe. I waited and met him outside – but I didn’t say anything other than, ‘Can I take a picture?’
So a few months ago, when their Facebook page announced a tour that included Manchester, I didn’t hesitate to buy tickets. They were meet and greet tickets, meaning I’d come face to face with him again. But now, he was a completely new man. He had found his peace, through love for his kids, his wife and himself. I loved the new music just as much as the old – it was uplifting, it hit me at a time when I was coming into a better place and it helped me hold onto the hope that things could change.
“Fear in itself
Will use you up and break you down
like you were never enough
I used to fall, now I get back up.”
As I stood in the queue, waiting to meet him again, I was nervous. I had no idea what I was going to say, but when I was face to face with him, hands shaking, heart thudding, I knew this was my opportunity to tell him how he had made me feel. He took hold of my hand, and I explained how his music had saved me, how the lyrics spoke to me in so many different ways. And I couldn’t even believe that I was so close to the man who I had idolised in so long.
I couldn’t help but think of the thing I’d heard so many people say – ‘never meet your idols, you’ll be disappointed’. But I met mine and he made me feel better. He made me laugh. And I am so fucking honoured to say that he said I smelt good.
The best night of my life.
“Today, I don’t have to fall apart.”
Also, a huge shout out to the incredible Wildwood Kin, who supported Blue October. Their sound is so different and their voices are powerful! Check them out here.