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Dear Switchfoot,

Thank you.

For an awesome concert & a great night. For writing great music that is fun to listen to and still resonates deeply. And for being real & genuine, and hanging out in the parking lot after your show.

Jon Foreman: I got to shake your hand, get a pic, and tell you that your songs have meant a lot to me--but forgive me, I was a bit dazzled being in the presence of one of my heroes. So, here is what I meant to say, if I'd been able to be eloquent, witty, and didn't have to worry about the other people standing around:

Roughly five years ago, my brother told me about a song he heard on the radio. "It's by a band called Switchfoot," he said. "Have you heard of them? Are they Christian? Because I think he's talking about God."
I thought for a moment. I was pretty sure I had a song or two on some Christian compilations, like WOW. "Yeah, I think they are," I replied. Kyle went on to tell me more about the song "Meant to Live" and how good it was. Not long after, he bought the album, "The Beautiful Letdown." My brother is one of my sources for new music recommendations, so when he told me that it was a really good CD, I borrowed it. He didn't get it back for several months.

Eventually, my entire family had to buy our own copies, because we all loved it so much--all four of us with our own "Beautiful Letdown" CD. (Clearly, this was in the days before we had our zunes.) It took me a while to move past the first few songs, but I finally did and was blown away. You see, 2004-2005 was a rough time for me. I was in a job I hated. My family was going through some rough times--my mom had cancer, my dad was switching jobs, my grandmother died, and we were moving out of our house and into a really crappy apartment. And did I mention I hated my job?

Suddenly I had these songs calling to me, urging me, comforting me. Although I had my family, and we are close, I did not have a community of friendships at that point in my life. I was finding the transition from campus life to the real world challenging. It was a dry, deserty time for me. A dark night of the soul, as St. John of the Cross would say. It was, in fact, a Beautiful Letdown.

So, when I say these songs meant a lot to me, I feel like that's kind of an understatement. For the past few years, since TBL, I have continually found solace and strength in Switchfoot's songs. When "Nothing is Sound" came out, I was grateful for the raw, lament-like honesty of songs like "The Blues" and "Lonely Nation." (And I blogged about it, too.) When "Oh! Gravity" was released, I connected with songs like "The Awakening" and "4:12." I also discovered some older tunes like "You," "Let That Be Enough," and "Only Hope," which somehow were just what I needed to hear at the time. Last summer, when I was searching for direction and leaving a job I loved but which had become too much of a constant battle for me, I was touched by "This is Home." (I cried every time I saw the video--but that probably has as much to do with Switchfoot as it does with the fact that I adore anything involving Narnia, Aslan, and C. S. Lewis.) In fact, my few and faithful readers might remember that I used lyrics from that song several times in this blog that summer.

Even earlier this year, as I discovered "Fiction Family" and caught up on all of Jon Foreman's eps, I continued to be uplifted by the words and music. So many of the songs from "Fall," "Winter," "Spring," & "Summer" just hit me right where I was at. It was another bit of a rough time for me, a time of searching and seeking God, a time of wanting to be renewed and refreshed, and I have to say it: God used many of those songs to restore my soul. Songs like "The Cure for Pain," "White as Snow," "The House of God, Forever," "I am Still Running," and especially "Your Love is Strong" (which my friends and I have played many times in our small groups) were like a healing salve for my troubled soul. They became my prayers in a time when going to church was a struggle.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I discovered that you had become my favorite band. Which was something of a shock, because as anyone who knew me in high school and college will tell you, I was a rabid Newsboys fan for the longest time. I'm not going to compare the two bands, because such comparisons are "odious" as Madeleine L'Engle would quote. It's enough for me to say that your songs have changed my life and probably in some way saved me. I apologize if that sounds hyperbolic, but that's certainly how it feels.

People are already talking about your upcoming album, and it bugs me when they compare it to your old stuff. Not every album has to be "The Beautiful Letdown." Not every song can be "Dare You to Move." To expect that is just folly--it's like people who wanted every M. Night Shyamalan movie to be "Sixth Sense," when if they'd just been paying attention, they would have seen that "Signs" and "Lady in the Water" were just as good in their own way (better, in my opinion, but that's me). From what I've heard, both at your concert last night and on Youtube (I shamelessly looked up people's amateur vids of you playing new stuff), I think it's going to be good. In fact, I think "Hello Hurricane" is going to be my new anthem. I'm already in love with that song, and can't wait til November so I can have a copy of it.

So thank you once again for being real and honest; for writing and playing songs that are authentic and which resonate and speak to people's hearts and pour into their souls. Your songs have comforted me, challenged me, pushed me, and healed me. Thank you for letting God use you.


Jessica Richards
(aka the girl who finally went to see you for the first time last night @ Robert Morris U & had an amazing time.)