You know you have them.  You wear a certain concert tee on a certain day.  You have (at least) one song for each friend that you have that will always remind you of them.  Sharing music with friends is imperative, even if they grow tired of your incessant documenting and ululating about the subject.  The saying goes that a good friend will sing the words (of your life) back to you when you’ve forgotten them.  

I’d like to dedicate this post to my childhood best friend, Susan Brown.  Pearl Jam celebrated their 20th anniversary last year.  It’s hard to believe that was two of my three decades ago, and I’ve been a fan since the start.  A local (to Blacksburgians, that is) brewery, The Cellar, had a few limited edition Pearl Jam Twenty golden Belgian ale bottles up for grabs.  Susan scored one for me, and it came in the mail just in time.  I’d been going through a difficult spell lately, once again questioning everything, esp. my creative future.

The brew was called “Faithfull” in honor of the band’s anniversary and also a reference to the song “Faithfull” (Track 2, from Yield, 1998.)  Naturally, I procured this album, turned it on, opened the ale and raised my glass.

I toasted Susan, thinking of the anecdote she put in my card about “and the first mix tape you made me had ‘Better Man’  on it.”  I don’t even remember how long ago that was except for that a) it really was a cassette tape mix b) it had to be somewhere abouts 1994 because that’s when Vitalogy broke.  But it got me thinking that there are things that will forever remind us what the core of our soul is.  One of them is the friends you shared those things and songs with.  Another is the songs that will always be a reflection, a reminder, of who you will always be, no matter how you change.

For me, you already know, that is music.  More specifically, Pearl Jam.  I was hesitant to commit this to public view (it was a decent sized ale bottle after all) but I will say it here:  I’ve been compiling a collection of Eddie and Pearl Jam writings from my memoir that I intend to send to the band.  I also have a great idea (which I will not disclose in public view) that I plan to propose to Pearl Jam. I’ve been meaning to complete this project and now I’m more motivated to see it through. 

Are these dreams big?  Yes.  But you know, just yesterday, a friend of mine inquired, “Is life worth living if you’re not dreaming big?”  

As I raised my glass in an empty kitchen, the sun burned the horizon a London Broil pink.  We lose touch with friends for…stupid reasons, sometimes for no reason at all.  I suggest you raise your tea, coffee, that vinyl record you were on your way to play, in homage to that best friend that shared music with you.

Thank you, Susan.

Be well, rock on, and cherish music,




P.S. Because Susan is to blame for my love of Led Zeppelin, “Over the Hills and Far Away” will always remind me of her, among thousands of other songs.



3 thoughts on “Ceremony

  1. Susan says:

    The mix tape also had Aerosmith and Nirvana (but I can’t remember much else). It was one of my first tastes of grunge and good rock. My mom didn’t like it much. I played it loudly. A lot.
    When I saw that Vintage Cellar had this limited time ale, I knew I must get it for you. Friends may grow apart over time, but there are still moments that will bring you closer no matter what. Thankfully, a lot of times it’s just simple things.
    What your friend said about dreaming big is true. Another favorite of mine these days is: “The earth without art is just eh.” Music is an amazing art form. Rock on.

  2. I think we all question our futures sometimes, Rachael, but you do a lot of for the writing community around here with Word Fountain and the monthly poetry workshops. You’re also a good writer, so keep at it!

  3. Thanks, Susan. I was laughing with the “…loudly. A lot.” There’s a certain way to say thank you without using the words “thank you.” It is always nice to know my musical insanity and efforts are appreciated.

    Thank you, Brian. I needed to hear that this week!

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