In the summer of 2004, my life went through some of the biggest changes I’d ever experienced to that point. My nearly seven year long relationship ended, and almost the very next day, I moved to Calgary. Being born, bred, and very proud to be from BC, this was a monumental change for me. I didn’t know much at all about Calgary at the time, other than I absolutely hated their hockey team, they had some cowboy event in the summer, and.. uh… cowboys? I am completely serious when I say I didn’t even know if they had paved streets downtown.

The reason for my move was, of course, to start my career as Creative Director with a music store company, and also to get as far away from the memories of my 7 year ex as possible.

It was a crazy, emotional, exciting, and completely scattered time for me. Leaving the city I’d lived in for the last 7 years, the province I’d lived in my entire life, my friends and professional connections behind – it was a lot to process.

thornleyI couldn’t tell you much about that time, or that year at all anymore. Bits and pieces of saying goodbyes to people, looking around my city at all the places I always thought I’d go to tomorrow and never did, and the overwhelming sense of change. I definitely couldn’t tell you what music I was listening to – except for one CD. The first Thornley CD had came out a few months prior to my move, and I picked it up for my first drive to Calgary to go apartment hunting. Big, angry guitars and Ian Thornley’s growling voice over it all – it was exactly what I needed. With lyrics like “So far so good / ’cause no one knows I’m faking / I wish I could show you the toll it’s taking / Sometimes I live as if there’s no tomorrow / So far so good“, it fit my overly dramatic mindset perfectly.

You can play any track from this CD and I am instantly back in 2004. I remember seeing dozens of copies of this CD on the wall in my music store in BC. Borrowing the store’s Play Copy of it to play over and over as I went for drives with no destination in mind. I remember a last hug goodbye. My Black Talon glistening in the Okanagan sun, and I, for once, a bit hesitant to go on a long distance drive in it. I’m taken back to my last month with my friends, one particularly strange night that started with my friend showing up unannounced at my door and hijacking me away until the next morning. Singing along to each track as I worked out, as I packed, as I wondered if I’d made the right decisions. I remember with a smile catching a Subaru WRX STi right before a winding stretch of mountain road and enjoying daydreaming that we were rally racing. This thought of course made me want to go faster, and I passed him for the win at the next opportunity.

How could you show me that life’s worth living,
I’ll never live it with you,
And every time there’s a gift worth giving,
You won’t let me give it to you

That race won, the door behind me closed a bit more and I was okay with it. I settled into my drive and my future, whatever it might bring me. I let the CD finish playing and put it back into its case. I’m fairly certain I haven’t listened to the entire thing since.

Oddly enough, one of the first concerts I went to when I got to Calgary was to see Thornley. It was at a dark, greasy (and now closed) club that I’d heard a few stories about. I went with some friends I’d met who had a band of their own and a girl I’d somehow managed to start dating without even knowing (as I’ve mentioned, I’m not always a genius). I was on an actual guest list at a club that wasn’t a client of mine. The bass during the show was so ferocious that my pants were being pressed against my legs like I was in a Maxell ad. This new life might not be so bad after all. Fittingly for the club we were at, when I went to the bathroom I was asked if I was a coke dealer. I definitely wasn’t in my small town home anymore.

I’ve seen Thornley / Big Wreck countless times since then. I’m still a huge fan of their music, but that one album will always have a special place in my memories. It sits in a box, packed away somewhere, probably untouched since the first trip to Calgary. I have a few tracks from it on my gym playlist, but often I will skip them when they come up to keep the memories either fresh or away.

In a way, I wish I would have played that same CD when I left Calgary, but I guess I’m happy I didn’t. It was perfect for the time and places I needed it, and for that I will always be grateful for the music.

Empty cars and phone booth scars,
Knuckles on the mend,
Every time I go too far I’d rather wind up,
Rather wind up dead,

I should’ve guessed it would end up like this,
I’ll never say never again,

After all is said and done,
it’s over after all,
You barely cried as you waved goodbye,
It all comes out in the wash

– JT