A Farewell to Stornoway

by Crystal Avila

On Thanksgiving Day in 2011 my older sister Jasmin played a song by one of her new favorite British indie-folk bands, Stornoway. I clearly remember listening to their song, “I Saw You Blink” as I was cutting green beans for my family’s feast. Coming from a family that is always listening, playing, or singing music, I was surprised when I felt very moved by the lyrics, voices, and vibe from that one song. It wasn’t a jaw dropping song but there was something special about it that would forever connect with me. In 2011 I was a junior in High School, and like any highschooler, I was done with some of the seemingly pointless aspects of High School such as drama, awkward dances, and deciding where I would go to college and what I would study. But when I was home, cooking, listening to music, and laughing with my family, I was happy and grateful for everything I had so easily been given. On a day where I was extra conscious of how much my family loved me and I them, and the peace I felt being surrounding by them, Stornoway’s, “I Saw You Blink” became the backdrop of that fond memory. From that day, I became a true Stornoway admirer. Their raggle-taggle folk songs channel all sorts of moods and vibes but leave the listener with some sort of nostalgia and sounds of the ocean. Their lyrics are so beautiful that reading them as a poem have the power to deeply move you.

Coming to college, I continued listening to Stornoway and shared their music goodness with all my friends. My friends soon became admirers as well and even bought me Stornoway’s record, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, for my 21st birthday (best present ever).

On October 25th, 2016 Jasmin, the same sister who introduced me to Stornoway, sent me a link to some sad news: Brian, Oli, Rob, and Jon from Stornoway, announced that after a decade of wonderful adventures, they would be ‘Stor-no-more’. They stated that their friendships and love for their music still remained but that over the past few years, winds have changed, blowing them all in different exciting directions. The news shocked me and immediately brought back a flood of memories that had been associated with Stornoway songs. I felt as if one of my friends had just moved far far away and I would never be able to see them again.

This upcoming Spring (2017), Stornoway will be closing their last chapter together on a ‘Farewell Tour’ around the UK. Upon hearing this news I immediately opened Spotify and listened to Stornoway as I finished up some work and texted my sister about our mutual sadness. As I finished writing a paper, a song called “We Were Giants” played, a track on Stornoway’s Bonxie album. I had never heard this song or at least hadn’t recognized its immense beauty. Its melancholic yet subtly sweet lyrics and tunes captured my mood perfectly that early Tuesday morning. Although I was sad that one of my favorite bands would never again create new music, I felt grateful, just like I did that Thanksgiving Day back in 2011. I was grateful that Stornoway had been the soundtrack to many of my favorite life memories, for the comfort they provided me, and for my family. Stornoway may be “done” but the beauty of music lies in its everlasting ability to be played, to be appreciated, and to be powerful in one’s life long after it is composed. Truly beautiful lyrics and musicianship outlasts decades and eras.

My journey with Stronoway began with “I Saw You Blink” and has not ended because as years come and go for my own adventures, I know Stornoway songs will accompany me and open my mind to viewing things a little differently that I ever thought I could. So although I have never met the band members of Stornoway, I want to say THANK YOU for inspiring me, for helping me, the fun times, the great ideas, for being my sketching soundtrack, and for the memory of a treasured Day back in 2011. But the real thank you goes to my sister Jasmin for her profound music influence and friendship in my life.

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