You were fighting everyday
I snuck home from college early one day in December of 2001. One of my favorite bands, Fuel, was playing at hometown venue — The Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. They were supporting their mega-hit record, Something Like Human, which was basically the soundtrack of my life at the time. There was no way I was missing this show.
I had done this a few times before, so when I got home I was expecting my family to laugh at me as they usually did when I walked in the door randomly and unannounced. Something was different this time though. I leaped up the garage stairs and into the kitchen, and found my mother in tears. No, it wasn’t at the sight of me! My grandfather had been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease for a few years now. About 15 minutes before I walked in, my mother had gotten a call that things had taken a sudden sharp turn for the worse. My grandfather was a very strong man who was truly loved by all. He had so courageously fought and at times tried to mask that something wasn’t right. You could see he knew it and it would crush him. Still he charged on the best he could, not wanting to miss a thing. But this time, we all couldn’t help but think, what was going to happen? Is this the end of his suffering? I can’t imagine him not being here.
I went to the concert that night. I was as emotional as a twenty-year-old college punk could be. A bit stoic and internalizing tremendously. Nonpoint opened the show. Sevendust played second, before Fuel — the night’s headliners who I had come to see. I knew of Sevendust as many of their songs sounded familiar, but that was about the extent of my fandom at the time. I remember seeing Fuel lead singer, Brett Scallions, standing side-stage while they were performing, in street clothes and eyeglasses, and head-bobbing the entire time. Suddenly towards the middle of their set, Sevendust frontman, Lajon Witherspoon puts the mic back on the stand, takes a deep breath and introduces their only mellow song of the night — “Angel’s Son.” I recognized this song for sure. In fact, it had reminded me of my grandfather, especially the lyrics “You were fighting every day. So hard to hide the pain.” I had never realized it was Sevendust’s song.
Witherspoon is a very energetic frontman, often hitting every corner of the stage. For this song however, he was statuesque, clutching the mic on the stand with everything he had. It certainly may have been sweat, but I could see what appeared to be a tear running down his face. It seemed appropriate. I was numb. Scallions was singing every word. The entire vibe and emotion was surreal. It felt like it was handcrafted for me, yet at the same time, so many others had experienced the same hurt, worry and fear of losing a loved one. I didn’t necessarily breakdown. I’m not sure I had the ability to then, but I was completely overcome in an almost out-of-body connection to the song that night.
“I know you never said goodbye. I had so much left to say.”
“Angel’s Son” is about the loss of the bands great friend Lynn Strait who had passed away in a tragic car accident. My grandfather hung on for another five months after that show. I still think of him every time I hear the song. Now I breakdown.
Every time I interview an artist, my approach is to be as real and professional as possible. When I had the opportunity to speak with Lajon Witherspoon, I felt I selfishly needed to personally say thank you. Not only for the delivery of “Angel’s Son” he and his band gave me that night, almost fourteen years ago, when whether I realized or not, I really needed that type of companion, but also for the memories that song continuously stirs up of all the joyous times I had with my grandfather. “Angel’s Son” often serves as the backtrack in my mind as I reminisce.
“One last song…”
Cheers to Sevendust as they play their 20th anniversary show tonight in Atlanta.
Part 1 of our Sevendust 20 year anniversary tribute- Behind the Song: The Meaning of ‘Angel’s Son’ with Lajon Witherspoon.
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association visit: ALZ.org
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