The Song That Saved My Life

I saw a white flash and I knew I'd almost died


BrianThe Morning After with Brian, Matt & Candice (Weekdays 6am-10am)

Brian grew up in London, ON and hosted a morning show in Victoria, BC before coming to Indie88. He loves biking and backcountry camping but usually spends his weekends catching live music and seeking out cheese shops in the city. He’s the singer/guitarist in the widely-unheard-of indie rock band Ocean Noise and looks forward to being part of the Toronto music scene.

​It was the fall of 2006 in small town Alberta. I had been doing a morning show in Red Deer for about a year and a half and I’d met a girl there. Things were going really well with us. You know the kind of silliness that happens when you first click with someone and you’re just enjoying the chemistry? We had that, until one night the phone rang and everything changed.

Her parents were on the other line, and they had bad news: her brother had been killed in a car accident. As she put down the phone the look on her face was pure horror. He was so young! How could this even happen?!? The only thing she could do was grab a few things and make her way to her hometown of Medicine Hat, where her grieving family was waiting.

The funeral preparations were painful, but we talked every day and I did my best to be supportive through such a difficult time. Although we’d only been dating a month or so, she invited me to come to the funeral. I knew it would be a super awkward way to meet her family for the first time, but of course I said I’d be there.

Medicine Hat was about 4 hours away, so on the day of the funeral I packed some music and snacks and hit the road. When I arrived I was caught up in a surreal whirlwind of “Hi, so nice to meet you” mixed with “We’re so sorry for the loss.” I had never even met my girlfriend’s brother, but I could tell this was a huge shock to the close-knit family that would take years to process.

After a long day of meeting aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins, they invited me to the stay the night. Under any other circumstances I would have stayed over, but the awkwardness of post-funeral chatter led me to decline. Once I was in the car and out on the highway I realized what a mistake I’d made.

I could barely keep my eyes open. I had a long drive ahead of me, and the road was straight and flat. The sun was setting, and at one point I remember almost hallucinating, thinking how much the horizon looked like a coastline. Was I headed for the ocean? No, just barren prairie land on both sides.

It was dark now and about 2 hours in, it happened. Somewhere between Medicine Hat and Calgary, I fell asleep. I still don’t know how long my eyes were closed, I just know my car was drifting off the road. There weren’t many other cars on the highway at the time, but with a steep embankment into the ditch the prospects of surviving a skid off the pavement were slim.

All of a sudden, a song! Loud music! It must have been an mp3 download that was for some reason a lot louder than the rest of the songs I’d burned onto that mix CD. My eyes flickered open and I grabbed the wheel hard, jerking the car back into the middle of the road. At that very moment a white flash passed through my headlights! I was freaked out, not knowing what had just happened – was it an animal? A patch of fog? How long had I been asleep?? I had seen a white flash and knew I’d almost died.

And the song that woke me up? New Order’s “Ceremony.” If not for the crappy mp3 and the New Order kick i’d been on I might not have snapped out of my sleep in time. I still think about that night anytime I’m exhausted and thinking about getting behind the wheel.