Have you ever discovered an artist years too late? Like, by the time you find their album in the bargain bin at WalMart, stick it in your car and Tweet about the awesomeness of the singer, all your friends tell you the CD was a hit five years ago. You’re left feeling a little deflated; after all your brilliant musical ‘discovery’ was more of a flashback than a hidden gem. And for one reason or another, you ponder why you missed this first class carriage on the fandom train of the singer.
That was me when I ‘discovered’ Noah Gundersen. I’d heard his name thrown around and had some friends who simply loved his music, but it has gone over my head and I kept merrily bopping along to One Direction (yes, seriously). Then came that magical day I decided to turn on Spotify and search his name.
If you read this blog thinking you were going to hear some sort of tale about how I actually met Noah Gundersen, you’d be wrong. I’ve never seen the dude in concert, let alone shaken his hand. But I feel like I met him when I heard his music for the first time. It was in his words, “With the turning of the season, we will always see the sun,” the sounds of the acoustic guitar seeming to fill the room, and the deep and clear sound of his voice meeting with my heart and greeting it like an old friend.
It reminded me of wholeness. It reminded me of brokenness. And it reminded me of the light and shade within my heart that I so often gloss over. And I realized that the best musicians are storytellers. They are able to communicate the feelings we are unable to speak of, and somehow tell the story of our life without even knowing us.
Once upon a time I would have fled on meeting the music of Noah Gundersen. I could not understand or fathom the depth of the sincerity in his words, or the pain that resides beneath so many of them. But when I finally heard “Jesus, Jesus” and heard the echoes of life, love and faith mixed with pain and brokenness, I understood. In a small way, I felt like Noah Gundersen had opened the door to the darkest space in his heart so that I too, had permission to open the door to mine. And I was able to move past the ‘explicit’ label I hold to and see the person behind the song, because in listening to it I became that person crying out about the injustice in the world and in my own life.
If I was to physically meet Noah Gundersen, I’d say thank you. And I would wonder how so many musicians can bare their soul, and still retain their sense of safety and privacy in a world where we clamour to know what Nicki Minaj ate for breakfast. Most of all though, I think I’d look him in the eye and see the depth of a story different, but so like mine. And that is what the best music should do, because it teaches us who we really are and why we are alive.