Staff Post

Matthew Ryan's New Single Benefits Friend With ALS

Here's a real tangible way that music makes life better! Punk/folk singer/songwriter, Matthew Ryan, has played JJ a few times. We're fans. Luke has played a couple shows with him and The Brindley Brothers recorded with producer Jim Ebert, who worked on Matthew's album, May Day. Yesterday, Matthew released a single from his forthcoming record. All proceeds go to benefit John Anderson, a friend of Matthews who is nearing the last stages of ALS - Lou Gherig's disease. Check out the tune and read the message from Matthew below. It's a powerful song. Another one of our faves and fellow Jersey guy, Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem, plays and sings on it as well.

"An Anthem For The Broken" was the most popular song in any genre at bandcamp.com yesterday - the traffic even slowed down bandcamp's servers! Listen and download if you can. It's only a dollar - although you can contribute more - and it all goes to a great cause.

Lyrics and full credits are at johnandersonbenefit.bandcamp.com.

How can it be that you can do everything right and still end up emotionally devastated and financially destroyed? My friend John Anderson and his wife Amanda are monuments to this truth. The story is beautiful, heartbreaking and angering. As a friend watching this story unfold has been almost helplessly infuriating, but it's also been staggering in the glowing grace and perseverance John, Amanda and their friends and family have displayed. The private details of John and Amanda's story are not for me to share. And honestly the details unfortunately can often put observers or readers at such a safe distance that they can't see themselves in it. What's happening to John and Amanda could happen to any of us. John has been a healthy, committed, successful and communal human all his life. He took no known risks to earn the health sentence he now faces. And let me be clear, he faces it with strength and a certain graceful but slightly pained grin that is inspiring. Three years ago he was diagnosed with ALS. Initially he fought it, researched and hoped he could beat it. Late one night not long ago John and I sat out on the patio next to his pool talking about the will to fight what seemed fated until early in the morning. I remember waving goodbye the next day to a very healthy but worried looking John. I drove away naively hopeful. But ALS is a ruthless disease. It essentially breaks the brains ability to control and communicate with muscles. Muscles atrophy and eventually the body stops working. Cruelly one who suffers this disease is generally very aware inside their hearts and minds of what's happening, even when the rest of their body begins shutting down. You can read more about it here:

www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

My friend John is nearing the last stages of his battle with ALS. John and his wife represent a lot of us to me. They've worked hard, they've been quietly successful, they've been responsible, they've been loving friends and sturdy family members. In our circle they have been a center. Now not only are they emotionally distressed by the changes in what the future and the present would be, they are also under the gigantic and daunting financial pressures ALS brings. As a friend what else can I do? I have to do something. If I had the personal resources I would make it so that John and Amanda would not have to deal with a single financial concern going forward. John is smart both intellectually and emotionally. I can feel that he doesn't want part of his legacy to be the financial hangover of a disease for Amanda and his family. So again, as a friend, what can I do? I can try and raise awareness, I can try to rally generosity and community to help these people that represent so many of us. Quietly this happens thousands of times a year in the U.S. I have my feelings on that, but that's not the point here. The point is it's only a song but I'm hoping it can act as an access point for us all to show our support for John and Amanda, and maybe symbolically- ourselves. An Anthem for The Broken is not a sublime lament, but a punkish lean for the better parts of our nature and a purer ethos. John has always loved and advocated for that mysterious ability Rock N Roll has to throw fists in the air and inspire hope against tough odds. I want you to buy the song, I hope it offers some of that fire that music, friendship, language and the arts are capable of. But frankly the song is secondary to the hope that this effort can rally some help to some dear friends at a horrible intersection. The purchase of the song is set up for you to PAY WHAT YOU WANT with a minimum price of $1. I HOPE YOU'LL CONTRIBUTE MORE IF YOU CAN. All of the money that comes in from this single will go directly to John and Amanda with the exception of the fee Bandcamp charges to distribute music. With your help we can do more for them then I can do alone. I hope you'll participate and I hope you'll help to get others to participate. This really isn't charity, this is an act of love and community. Please contribute and share this post.

- Matthew Ryan