Back to the Beginning Again: A Love Story
November 1997: I remember riding in my friend’s truck down the freeway in the dark, headed to a nearby church. I wasn’t really going for the opening band, it was the second act that had me most excited. But turns out, that first group ended up making more of an impression on me in the long run. Three guys, barely a few years older than me, played all but one of the songs off their fairly recent first album, taking all of half an hour to rock out with a group of about 50 teenagers. I’d left my CD at home, so when I went to their merch booth, I didn’t really have anything for the band to sign. It wasn’t until my birthday, 15 years later that I was finally able to get those autographs, only now there were five members of Switchfoot.
For 20 years now, the surf-rock band from San Diego has been the soundtrack to my life. From break-ups, marriage and parenthood to losing a long-time friend to cancer, the band’s ten albums have provided me comfort, inspiration, laughs, and what they strive for most of all, hope. I’ve been to seven shows throughout the years, the most recent having been a couple nights ago, for the first time in my home town at a tiny historic theater. More than any other band, these are guys I feel like I know, that I’ve grown up with. There is no other group whose music and lyrics resonate with my soul, connect me with the beyond, whatever it is that we call God. As I sang along with all these songs I know by heart, I realized the words to so many of them have become my own version of a Bible, words I live by.
What makes Switchfoot so special is not the fact that they are a “Christian” band. These guys don’t preach, don’t offer any version of religion. They share their hope in a life beyond this one fraught with death, pain, confusion, loss. They are real, authentic— writing music that channels the deepest yearning of our mortal selves, searching for something more than the physical offerings of the world. Reminding us that each day, each moment, each breath is a gift, and to make the most of it. You don’t need to believe in God to relate to those feelings. But in my case, their music is undoubtedly my go-to solution when I need that presence. And even if I’m not looking for it, the magic of their guitar-driven melodies always finds a way to heal whatever is aching in my heart. Like frontman Jon Foreman said the other night, it’s about starting from a place of darkness and discovering the light.