View Full Version : Songwriter’s ballad for deployed friend captures hearts

04-24-03, 05:44 PM
April 24, 2003

Songwriter’s ballad for deployed friend captures hearts

By Nekesa Mumbi Moody
Associated Press

NEW YORK — When Rachel Loy sat down to write a song about her friend serving in Iraq, she thought that it could become an anthem for people whose loved ones were fighting in the war.
But the 20-year-old college student quickly jettisoned the idea.

“I was like, ‘No, I can’t think about that or it’s going to be cheesy,”’ recalled Loy, a junior at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. “So I just thought about my friend and I wrote it for him.”

However, her original thought is proving to be prophetic. “The Same Man,” a moving ballad about Marine reservist Matthew Brake, has garnered airplay on radio stations nationwide and has attracted the attention of the national media.

“It’s very heartfelt, it’s very real,” said Peter Ganbarg, a top executive at Epic Records, which is releasing the song. “It’s universal ... everyone can relate to those lyrics.”

In the song, Loy paints a picture of a gentle man bravely serving his country. At one point, she sings: “ ’Cause the same man who held me so close that night is the same man who is sleeping with his gun, and the same man who would never ever start a fight is the same man who would never ever run.”

Loy, who’s from Austin, Texas, started dating Brake, a 21-year-old firefighter also from Austin, last year during her spring break. After she returned to Boston, the two maintained a friendship through frequent telephone calls.

In January, their last phone conversation, he told her he was heading to Kuwait in preparation for a war in Iraq, where he’s now serving. She asked him if he was scared.

“He was like, ‘Honestly, I’ve been ready for this moment for a long time, and this is what I trained for, and I’m ready to go,”’ she said. “And he was ready to do his duty and that’s so cool to me, that there are people who are just moved and called to serve our country like that.”

The song, which simply features her singing with an acoustic guitar, was written after the war started. Loy had no plans to release it.

“I showed it to my sister first,” Loy said, “And she was like, ‘You’ve got to get it heard.”’

So Loy contacted KLBJ, a rock station in Austin, where she was familiar with disc jockey Dale Dudley. The station and Dudley, who co-hosts the morning show, allowed her to premiere it live.

“I really wasn’t expecting anything but a cute tune,” he said. “And when she finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

Dudley later put the song up on a Web board just for DJs, and soon other radio stations started playing it. It then caught the attention of Epic Records, which was already familiar with Loy; her band, Mass Ave., an all-female group composed of her Berklee colleagues, had played for a group of its executives two weeks earlier.

“We heard the song, and it was a one-listen no-brainer,” Ganbarg said. “It just tugged at your heart, and it’s just a beautiful song.”

The song went on sale earlier this week.

Loy, whose father is a music producer, has been singing and writing since she was a teen. A bassist on full scholarship at Berklee, Loy is working on a solo album that Epic has the option of releasing.

Loy is no overnight success, as she’s quick to point out.

“It seems instant to everybody because they’ve never heard of me before,” she said. “But I’ve definitely worked to be here. I’ve been writing songs since I was 14, I’ve been a professional bass player since I was 13 years old.”

Loy believes the success of “The Same Man” lies in the fact that it’s not about the war.

“It doesn’t really take a pro- or antiwar stance, it just kind of puts a face on a soldier,” she said. “There are so many people ... who have their own loved ones over there, and they’re looking for a way to express their feelings to that.”

Loy hasn’t been in contact with Brake since their last phone call. She has, however, spoken to his mother, who last heard from him in mid-March. The family has heard from friends who know others serving in Iraq that he is OK, said Loy.

Loy isn’t sure if he knows that she wrote a song for him.

“I don’t think he’d know it to the degree it’s actually spread and how incredible all this actually is until he gets back,” she said with a laugh. “Hopefully, he’s not pushed into the limelight — although he might like it.”

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.