A few days ago marked the birthday of one of my best friends.  Though she lives half a continent away, there is great comfort and reassurance in my mind and heart that we are close no matter the time and distance. 

True friends are always together in spirit. 
― L.M. Montgomery, “Anne of Green Gables”

And when we do get together, we pick up right where we left off, as if no time has passed.  I’m transported back to college with her or a few of my other close friends, hanging out in our dorm rooms or walking across the green, to the river or Bema.

Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything.
– Khaled Hosseini – “The Kite Runner”

We didn’t talk about anything heavy or light. We were just there together. And that was enough. – Stephen Chbosky – “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Or having dinner at the Hop, swimming in the Connecticut River, dancing at a frat party, having fun at a formal, having margaritas and fries at Bentleys, skipping class and having drinks on the terrace at the Hanover Inn, or just chatting late into the night.

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is, at last, a drop which makes it run over; so, in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.
– Ray Bradbury – “Fahrenheit 451”

I’m lucky enough to have a few close friends that, despite my foibles and flaws, I’ve managed to hang onto over the many years.  Who would have known that a love for The Hobbit in 5th grade at a new school would translate to making a best friend who would accompany me through junior high, high school, college, and medical school?  Or that a freshman trip hiking through the mountains of New Hampshire would be a source of two great friends?

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.” – E.B. White – “Charlotte’s Web”

A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you. – Elbert Hubbard

Some friends are forever.  My wife has a best friend since she was 2 years old.  What a treasure.  It is truly a blessing to have such lifelong friends, through thick and thin, always there, wherever there is, to share life with. 

Close friends contribute to our personal growth.  They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder because they are there. – Judith Viorst

Other friends have a role to play, but often in a more temporary fashion.  A best friend in childhood, who every day playing Legos together, building forts, riding bikes, playing sports together, whatever – never got old.  But alas divergent high school and college paths led to a gradual fading of our bond.  But what memories remain!

Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely? – Hanya Yanagihara “A Little Life”

Or a friend in college who spend almost every waking moment in my presence, like twins, or a shadow, sharing casual chats and deep conversation, music, working out, many a football road trip, continuing our friendship through graduate school and beyond.  But alas the distance, life circumstances and changes brought such friendships to a close.  While sad, such a friendship is no less important.  It can be invaluable in shaping that portion of our lives, filling our days with fun times and wonderful moments shared together, though providing only a temporary companion on our life journey.  We should embrace such friendships, and be ok with letting them go as well, as for whatever reason they were not meant to last.  Such friendships have been great, intense, rewarding, albeit briefer relationships for which I continue to be grateful.

A fellow Dartmouth graduate, Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss offered insightful advice:

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
– Dr. Seuss

And I think of the times when my friends were there for me in dark moments, in the death of my father and brother, or when spending time with them in their times of trial and tribulation, in the passing of a parent, or other tragedies that life threw their way.  Such shared moments of comfort, compassion and love are worth more than gold.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. – Henri Nouwen – “Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life”

And yet again from Geisel:

Sometimes you will never know the value of something until it becomes a memory. – Dr. Seuss

And so as we continue our life journeys, we remember and cherish our friends, whether relationships short or long, and the value they have provided and memories they have made, but more, the place in our heart they hold.

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery – “The Little Prince”

Our friends come to mind in memories of mutual moments shared in the past, or in a song, a scent, a place, an activity.  If not physically, they are always near in mind and heart.  And often that is enough.

If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever. – Alfred Tennyson

And yet another Dartmouth attendee, Mr. Rodgers, an institution from many of our childhoods, offered as only he can:

When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed. – Fred Rogers

Thus this theme of friendship inspired today’s playlist, songs with friend or friends in their title, though a few exceptions come with the theme songs to “Friends” and “Cheers,” two shows whose whole premise was based on the importance of friendship.  And again on this playlist as with others, Garth Brooks original of “Friend In Low Places,” absent on Spotify, is covered here.

One of my all-time faves Amy Grant delivers a beautiful vision of friendship:

When every moment gets too hard
End of the road can feel so far
No matter how much time we’re apart
I’m always near you

I’ll be the shelter in your rain
Help you to find your smile again
I’ll make you laugh at a broken heart
Wherever you are

Cause I’m never gonna walk away
If the walls come down someday
All alone and you feel afraid
I’ll be there when you call my name
You can always depend on me
I believe until forever ends
I will be your friend

So many people come and go
Nothing can change the you I know
You’ll never be just a face in the crowd
And time will show

Through the seasons and the years (and the years)
I will always hold you dear
Never you fear

Buzz, Woody, Jessie, and Andy show what friendship means to a child:

And Robin Williams’ Genie provides his version of friendship:

And how many of us wanted a group of friends like Rachael, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe.  Friends to hang out with share life’s ups and downs, joys, trials and tribulations with?  People who’d be there for you, and you for them?

Or hanging out at the restaurant or bar with those close to us. I always felt a little sense of loss of not having the carefree young adulthood presented in “St. Elmo’s Fire” where Jules, Billy, Kevin, Kirby, Alec, Leslie, and Wendy all hung out in the evening at the restaurant/bar sharing a cup of friendship.

And similarly the crew of friends at the bar in Cheers:

I recently had the privilege of seeing James Taylor perform with Jackson Browne – they still are great entertainers, worth seeing if you have a chance.  Here JT is singing Carole King’s classic, with her accompanying him on piano in 1971:

When you’re down and troubled
And you need some lovin’ care
And nothin’, nothin’ is goin’ right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know, wherever I am
I’ll come runnin’
To see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

If the sky above you
Grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together
And call my name out loud
Soon you’ll hear me knockin’ at your door

And I just love Sara Bareilles cover performed in tribute to Carole King at the Kennedy Center Honors.  If you have the opportunity, see “Beautiful: The Carole King Story” musical.  Beyond fantastic, it’s amazing how accomplished a songwriter she has been over the years, writing many songs for many other artists.:

As always, my favorite American Idol alum comes through with a wonderful song on friendship (if you have the opportunity, see Crystal live – she’s fantastic):

I know you’re out there somewhere
Even though we’re far apart
Yes, I can feel you with me
I carry you inside my heart
Like a moment in my light
You’re never really gone
And everything I do
You’re the melody when I sing this song

I said amen for my friends

And Michael W. Smith relates perfectly what it means to be a friend:

So many memories and so many miles
The road that stretches behind us
We’ve had some laughter and our share 
Of tears
But all these moments unite us

I’ll be your friend for a lifetime
Against the wind and the rain of every season
Won’t walk away in the hard times
I will be your friend
I’m saying I will be your friend

Sure as the river runs to the sea
High as the mountain that reaches
You were there by my side till the end
(And) helped me on my feet again

So in the valley walk on
Don’t have to face it alone
Cause in the hard times 
We keep growing strong
As we learn, as we live
That we live when we give

And now for the playlist.  I hope when listening to it you conjure up many fond memories of times spent with friends over the years.  Enjoy!

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment

Enjoy the moment

Love the moment

Listen to the MUSIC!