I Went to Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem

Last week I posted about my lads from Oxford, England–A Silent Film. Today I’m sharing a post I wrote on my old blog about The Gaslight Anthem. Gaslight unexpectedly stormed into my music world two years ago and their music has been on my daily soundtrack ever since. Last summer, the band announced they were going on hiatus, which broke my music heart. However, shortly after, lead singer and songwriter Brian Fallon announced he’d be releasing a solo album. Music heart mended, although the piece that had Gaslight written on it still hurts.

Brian Fallon is one of those true-to-life American songwriters whose lyrics are universal and resonate long after the music has faded. His storytelling songs seem to paint a picture of small-town America, or maybe that’s because I grew up in a town that is a dot on the map and I feel as though his songs could be about my life.

As a writer,  one of my goals is to have my words be a spark of inspiration in the pen of others. Brian Fallon’s lyrics have done that for me, and on September 20 of this year, I got to meet him and tell him how much his words and music have inspired me to expand my own talent.

But that’s another post.

Tonight, we’re going back to March 23, 2015, when I first saw Brian Fallon and his Gaslight Anthem mates.

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You know that feeling you get when music just “gets” you? When you could swear the lyrics are written specifically for you? I have had those moments over and over again with The Gaslight Anthem. I first discovered them when I was at the American Authors concert at The Depot in Salt Lake City last October. AA had a huge screen on the stage that displayed music videos of other artists in between sets. Gaslight’s video for their [then] new single “Get Hurt” was playing and my music heart dropped when I heard the chorus. The music, the lyrics, the haunting scene of the video–it all came together and it only took a moment for me to fall hard for Gaslight. Over the next few weeks I took my time watching You Tube videos, reading articles, and purchasing their albums (this is a very fancy way of saying I Internet stalked them). I like a lot of bands but it’s hard to say that I love everything an artist does. In this case, the truth is I do love everything they do.

I realize I am a latecomer to the group. They formed in 2006 and I only discovered them in October, 2014. However, I think I can say that doesn’t make me any less of a fan. I can’t imagine my musical life without them now. Not a day has gone by where I haven’t listened to them since I discovered them.

I was beyond ecstatic when I found out they were coming to Salt Lake. I bought my tickets in December and counted down the days until March 23rd. And it slowly…finally…came.

The show was a 21+, which I have to secretly admit I prefer. There was no need to queue early, no need to fight any crowds…all the adults just sauntered in, perused the merch tables, got drinks, and relaxed on a Monday night. However, after the opener, Northcote, closed their set, I made sure I was up front against the barrier. Stage left, but able to see well anyway. I think my heart was pounding as loud as the crowd was yelling. They took the stage – the first chords of “Howl” started – and I was in that first moment: I was seeing these musical idols whose songs had become thread to my soul, stitching themselves permanently in my life.

The highlights of the evening for me were when they performed “1,000 Years,” “’59 Sound,” “45,” “Blue Dahlia,” “Film Noir,” “Sweet Morphine,” and “American Slang.” Matt from Northcote–a self-admitted huge Gaslight fan as well–joined the band on “American Slang,” and the joy on his face as he sang with his favorite band was matched by the grin on mine as I watched him.

There was only one low point of the evening, and that was when an attendee (I refuse to call him a fan) began shouting to Brian Fallon (singer/ songwriter/ guitarist) while Fallon was talking on stage. Although I can’t remember exactly what this attendee said – at first, something about stop talking and start playing; next, there’s nothing good from New Jersey (where Gaslight is from) – all I know is that I was angry, other fans were angry, and it made for an uncomfortable situation. Fallon handled it well, though, or at least he did in my opinion. He said what he wanted to say and he started playing when he wanted to play.

The best part of the show for me was when they performed “Great Expectations,” slowed down a bit from its original version, but quite possibly giving it a closer resemblance in aura to the novel of its namesake. I watched them playing, and I was suddenly overcome with this feeling that even now I can’t describe.

It was on that very stage that I discovered them, although it was when they were on screen. It was as if I had come full circle, and they had simply walked out of the screen and become flesh and blood, incredible musicians I admired but human beings whose talent but mostly hard work had brought them there. To say I was in awe is an understatement. I’m not usually at a loss for words, especially when I write, but I’m unable to accurately describe what I felt, other than amazement and inspiration.

Perhaps one of their own lyrics can describe it the best: “Look at you saving my life.” In so many ways, music has. So thank you, Gaslight, for sharing your music and your talent. I hope to repay you someday.

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