The summer before my freshman year in high school our family moved... to the greatest neighborhood of all time. I was surrounded by friends for the first time in my life. David, Joel, Larry, Kevin, Barry, Roddy, Todd, and Jeff were just a few houses away. And Bill was only a short bike ride across Powers Ferry. My best friend Mike lived a few miles away, but close enough to be part of the tribe. We played pickup basketball at Kevin’s house although we had dunk contests at Joel’s house because he had a rim we could lower. We had BB Gun battles at David’s house (two pump max). I played drums with Roddy at his house and surprisingly his parents never got mad. My first band started on Bill’s front porch. Bill on trumpet, David on trumpet, and I played snare drum. We played the music of KISS and sounded awesome... NOT. We lived about a mile from my high school, so on football Friday nights, friends would come to my house and we’d walk to the game together. I have a stockpile of favorite memories from that neighborhood and group of friends to last my lifetime.
Ben Rector is a singer songwriter, originally from Oklahoma and now living in Nashville. I recently found one of his songs called “Old Friends.” Actually, it was a video of the song. It was filmed in the garage of the house he grew up in and performed in the video by his high school band mates. The chorus sings
Can you take me back when we were just kids
Who weren't scared of getting older
'Cause no one knows you like they know you, and no one probably ever will
You can grow up, make new ones, but truth is there's nothing like old friends
'Cause you can't make old friends
While listening, I was immediately transported to my old neighborhood and a thousand plus nights of flashlight tag, talking about girls, and dreaming big with the boys. I could see the faces and hear the voices of my old friends. As I watched the video and let the song soak in my heart, I was smiling and crying at the same time. I was sad that those days are over, but grateful to have experienced them. It’s a powerful thing when 4 minutes of words and music from a complete stranger can resonate so deeply in your soul that you are compelled to tell as many people as possible.
At the end of the video, Ben encourages the viewer to go and call old friends… so, I did. I reached out and got caught up on children, careers, health, and parents. Good memories are intoxicating. Talking with old friends that share your history is like that worn out t-shirt that feels better than anything else in the closet.
For a brief moment that night I was 14 years old again. Listening to music, talking to my buds, laughing and dreaming of tomorrow. Thanks, Ben Rector. A song can change your life. “Old Friends” changed mine. james