by Ryan Meehan
One of the few benefits of the blue-horned devil we know as Facebook is that it alerts you when a friend’s birthday is approaching. Since my memory has been shot for some time, this has become an increasingly handy feature. It allows me to pop on in from time to time during the Spirit Formation Journey Anniversary of those I’ve come to know over the years, given the impossible task of keeping up with everybody and where they are currently at in their “actual” lives.
This piece is not about one of those people. This is about someone who I consider to be very close to me, my friend Greg Thompson. While I’m sure Greg genuinely appreciates every single birthday wish written on his wall, I feel like after all these years I owe him a little more than that so this is my way of showing my appreciation for the countless life lessons I have learned from one of the best men I’ve ever known.
When I was about fourteen years old, I was in a band with a couple of guys who lived near me. We had never played anywhere at that time, and we wanted nothing more than to get in to this local coffeehouse which doubled as a killer alternative music venue. Our drummer Brett was into racing BMX bixes and suggested that we go play some songs at the local BMX track, because the owner of the coffeeshop also raced bikes and would be there. We knew that if we could show him we had our shit somewhat together, we could probably book a show there and play for someone other than the two girls who lived across the street.
So we show up at the track on a Sunday afternoon, and they set us up sort of in the middle of the track. My scrawny ass stood there and jammed my old white Les Paul with P90s and a Steinberger tremolo arm along to what I’m sure was far from the best live set I’ve ever played. At some point I started doing the move where I was stomping around backwards in a circle, and I was later told it reminded this one guy who was watching us of the guitar player from Biohazard. After the show this individual came up to Brett, started chatting us up and I had the chance to meet someone who would become a lifelong friend of mine. It was then that I was able to put a face to a voice: I had heard about Greg’s work in the band Butt Lynt, and within weeks he had become our singer. He worked tirelessly to come up with lyrics on break at his job, and showed up more prepared for practice than anybody I have ever played music with to this day.
His dedication to the craft was unmatched. He performed with force and determination like a man possessed, even in practice. He knew precisely how to set the mood of a room, complete with the right amount of humor to keep everything light enough so that the intensity of the music could crack the fucking earth in half when the breakdown finally kicked in. The time I spent driving with him in his candy apple red Escort was very important to the developmental stages of my adulthood, even though I didn’t really know it at the time. He taught me a lot of very important things about myself, the world, and above all…respect. I would be removed from that band twice, but the voice in the back of my mind never really stopped reciting details from Hard Kid G’s helpful life advice. Without even realizing it, Greg taught me to see value in each human being I would encounter in my life and helped play an integral role in preparing me for my future.
The learning points were relatively simple, but crucial in a time when not a lot of people understood the basic concepts of respect: Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Listen attentively to everything, but question anything which seems suspect. Know your enemy in order to better able yourself to put them on the mat when you can expose their weaknesses. Additionally, know your own weaknesses and understand we are all vulnerable under certain circumstances.
Respect your elders, especially your parents. Never miss an opportunity to show those who love you how much you care for them and appreciate their companionship. Help those in need whenever possible. Good things eventually come to those committed to being on the universe’s good side. Never apologize for having genuine intentions. Music shall always give you the strength to overcome all obstacles, and rock and roll will continue to provideth the power and the glory to those who preach its scripture.
Happy Birthday Greg, and may you have many more opportunities to enlighten us with your extensive knowledge of staying true to one’s self regardless of any barriers present. You are a blessing to all of us who have been honored to know you over the years and we hope the future holds many great things for you and your family.