As I write this, I am sitting at my desk, totally stunned by the news of Jon Bunch’s passing. I am overwhelmed by emotion for a man I never met, yet whose words and voice meant so much to me. So much.
My first exposure to Bunch’s music was through my roommate Jeff. He was a hardcore devotee in the mid-nineties. One of the bands he loved the most was Sensefield and he played Killed For Less almost non-stop for a long time (at least, it seemed like it to me). Now Sensefield was more of a “thinking man’s” band for sure, but many fans of the old school Victory Records roster (including Jeff and myself) had much love for them.
While I enjoyed Sensefield, my true appreciation for them didn’t develop until after Bunch had joined Further Seems Forever for the timeless Hide Nothing. Bunch’s voice perfectly complimented the music. The emotional strain in his voice as he reached to hit the notes and convey the poetic lyrics immediately resonated with me.
FSF fans are often split over their feelings on that album. I have always felt that this was an age issue. FSF had a young fanbase that didn’t know what to make of Bunch or the poppier turn of the music. I, however, was in my mid-twenties, fairly newlywed, and trying to reconcile the idea that I didn’t have much direction. And what direction I did have just wasn’t working out. Every syllable of Hide Nothing felt like it was written specifically for me. In many ways, it still feels like that when I listen to it.
While I was never able to see Sensefield live, I always figured the chance would come back around. Now, sadly, it never will. Fortunately, I did manage to see the Hide Nothing lineup of FSF a couple of times and they, in my opinion, were at their very best each time. As a matter of fact, the show at the Purple Door Festival just before the release of Hide Nothing is still one of my favorite shows ever.
Part of me thinks that it’s crazy to mourn someone I have never even met. That’s how strange music is, though. It affects you in ways that no one can understand besides you. It meets you where you are at. So, thank you, Jon Bunch, for inspiring me and for singing about the feelings that I could never articulate. I wish I could have told you that in person. Your race has been run and I pray that you can see who you ARE.
“We live and we learn and we crash and we burn and we’re gone / We take what we know and we learn as we go and we run/ Run until that day, we can see who we are /Have the final say, we keep being who we are / As love lights the way to the last day…. and no one can take it away” – “Hide Nothing” from Hide Nothing