From the Editor: Music can change the world

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gideon introduced me to Old 97ís when we were just two friends who had extremely strong feelings for each other but didnít do anything about it because of fear and anxiety.

He worked at his college radio station, where he regularly received and sorted lots of new music. Some of the music came from bands that had just recorded their debut album and needed some exposure. Old 97ís was not one of these bands. Gideon recommended that I listen to Grand Theatre: Volume One, the bandís eighth studio album. He said he particularly liked a song on the album that reminded him of Johnny Cash.

I listened to the song, then the album and then everything else Old 97ís had recorded since 1994. I fell in love with Gideon and Old 97ís at the exact same time. When I realized theyíd be performing a New Yearís Eve show at the House of Blues in Dallas, I bought tickets for us without telling Gideon. I assumed heíd want to go, and if he didnít, I knew Iíd find a way to have fun on my own.

We were still friends and still denying there was any attraction between us. At that point, we hadnít even been alone together for longer than a couple of hours. None of this crossed my mind when I bought the tickets. All I could think was how exciting it would be to see this band I had just discovered. I wanted to share that with Gideon, because he was the reason I knew about Old 97ís in the first place.

When I told Gideon about the show, he got a little weird. We had both just ended long-term relationships, something I didnít even think about when orchestrating our New Yearís Eve date. He said heíd go but reminded me we were just friends. ďOh, I know,Ē I said. ďI just thought it would be fun.Ē That was kind of true but also a big fat lie. I knew what I felt for Gideon. I knew I was planning a romantic date. I could pretend I didnít know these things, but it was pretty obvious to everyone besides me and Gideon.

The six-hour trip to Dallas was one of the first times Gideon and I were really alone. He slept most of the way, and I listened to Old 97ís to hype myself up for the show. I realized then that Gideon didnít know nearly as much about Old 97ís as I did, even though he had been the one to tell me about them.

See, Iím the kind of person who really commits when I find a band I like. If I like one song by a band, Iíll look up their entire discography and listen on repeat until I know the ins and outs of every song theyíve ever done. Making matters worse, my love for Old 97ís had just begun. I was in the honeymoon stage. That just happened to coincide with the beginning of mine and Gideonís relationship, so it was an especially happy time.

The show was incredibly good Öraw energy filled the venue. When the clock struck midnight and Old 97ís went into a rock version of Auld Lang Syne, Gideon and I connected romantically for the first time. Iíve always believed in the power of music, but I didnít realize quite how powerful it is until that moment. Old 97ís brought me and Gideon together. My appreciation for the band grew and has continued to grow over the past three years.

Earlier this year, I started feeling a debilitating kind of depression. I couldnít get excited about going on our honeymoon. I couldnít get myself to leave the apartment most days, unless I absolutely had to. What got me through was knowing Old 97ís would be releasing a new album in late February. I made a list of things I was excited about, and hearing that album was at the very top of it.

When it came out, I was obsessed. I must have listened to that album on repeat 20 times the first week it was released. At that moment, I needed it. I needed something to look forward to, and Old 97ís gave that to me.

If I werenít afraid of being one of those awkward, creepy fans, Iíd send some kind of fan mail to the band to let them know the effect their music has had on me. Iím writing this column instead Ö not to encourage all of you to listen to Old 97ís, even though you should, but to remind you that music can change the world.

It can make life easier to live. It can bring people together. Itís one of the biggest ways humans connect to each other, and Iím grateful for it.

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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is