For Toby

Last night, a beautiful soul moved on to his next adventure. In October, I sent Toby the following message:

Who you are to me.

You’ve always been a positive person. I always looked up to my older brother’s friends, and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, but age and timing almost always made that difficult. Although you aren’t the exact same age as him, you’re close enough that I always associated you with that group of people. The difference was that you were accessible, and didn’t mind hanging out with a 16 year old punk. You didn’t mind caterwauling stratacasters with me in my parents’ basement, even though I had no idea what the hell I was doing. What I was playing sounded like an episode of looney tunes, played backwards while being run through a meat grinder. Still, there you were, standing across the room, rocking out like Hendrix, with a giant smile on your face, looking back at me & cheering me on.

When my guitar playing progressed enough to allow me to actually play along with other people, you were the one who sat with me on the steps at Veteran’s park, running through Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Today,’ and threading lead notes through whatever three chords I knew at the time. It was you and me, getting stoned on three steps that lead to the bottom of a river, actualizing thoughts through music.

It’s no surprise that you were part of the first band I was ever a member of. Forged in the projection room of the Malek Theater, Couch Trip was an alt-psycodelic-prog-rock-power-trio, the likes of which Buchanan County had never seen. If I remember correctly, we had one practice, and it was earth shattering.

Did you know that I had a reoccurring dream about you for about 7 years? When I was 14, I was walking up main street and you came power sliding around the corner by Security State Bank, with leather gloves on your hands, and a Powel Parelta under your feet. That 5 second memory would show up in the middle of random dreams for the better part of a decade. There I’d be, flying through Metropolis, playing on stage with Pearl Jam, or making love to a woman, and all the sudden, BOOM! Here’s Toby Albright! Skate or Die Mother fucker!

I was just as happy to see you in those dreams as I was to see you in person the last time we were face to face. I was visiting from Seattle, and ran through Independence with my parents. We were hungry and stopped at Subway. I was standing in line, and caught a smile out of the corner of my eye that could only belong to you. I walked over. We both started laughing, and without saying a word, gave each other a giant hug. You were the only familiar and loving face I saw during that stop in Independence, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So, this is who you are to me. You are a positive, loving, inspirational person, who loves laughing and encouraging other people to laugh with you. Without you, I never would have continued playing guitar. If I had given up playing guitar, I wouldn’t have the life I do now.

My life is pretty darn good. Thank you for helping create that possibility.

Carry on, Toby. Kiss the sky.

If you know Toby, please consider donating on gofundme… which will help cover his medical expenses.