Bradley strikes a chord across N.H.

by Lindsay Barnes | 11/24/03 6:00am

If the most a songwriter can hope to do with his art is to create something that resonates with the listener, then Chris Bradley '92 is one of the most successful songwriters in New England today.

Since it was released as a single, Bradley's personal tribute to the Old Man in the Mountain, "Goodbye Old Man Goodbye," has reached the hearts of people in New Hampshire and beyond.

"When I was thinking about writing it, I thought 'Gosh it'd be great to have sort of a song that would buoy people up in a strange way and be a cheerleader for people from New Hampshire,'" Bradley recalled in an interview with The Dartmouth.

Once Bradley, put pen to paper, he found inspiration by remembering his own personal reaction to the media coverage of the Old Man in the Mountain's collapse.

"Nobody was talking about the symbolism," Bradley said, "people were talking about lost tourism money. So then I started thinking about the idea that the Old Man was held up in chains. So he really did represent living free or dying even in falling."

This idea gave birth to the song's refrain: "Is it really so wrong to live free or die/'Stead of living in chains while the years roll by/They say the water in you froze, but I think your exit you chose/Goodbye old man, goodbye."

It's those words that have found their way into the hearts of many across the Granite State, some even going as far as to declare it should be the New Hampshire State Hymn.

This is a notion Bradley laughs at. "It's a strange thing I just kind of wrote in my basement," Bradley said, "and then a guy from the [Boston] Globe wrote an article, and then people got interested in it."

Among those who became interested were representatives from Dartmouth's athletic department, who arranged for Bradley to play the song live in Thompson Arena during the first intermission at this year's Dartmouth-Harvard men's hockey contest.

Bradley, who was raised in Hanover, said performing before the capacity crowd was a great homecoming for him. In fact, he knew it was going to be before the puck dropped.

"I knew it was going to be great when they turned out the lights and cranked 'Where the Streets Have No Name,'" Bradley explained, "U2, and especially 'The Joshua Tree,' was huge for me growing up, and I knew it was going to be great."

Sure enough it was, as many responded positively to the song and he caught up with some old friends. "I saw a ton of people at the game that I hadn't seen a long time," Bradley said.

That appearance, plus radio play from all across New England, has led to Bradley being scheduled to perform "Goodbye Old Man Goodbye" for an estimated 13,000 people at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester for this year's Dartmouth-New Hampshire men's hockey game on January 13.

"I read somewhere that Aerosmith and Kiss are playing there the night before," Bradley remarked, "I can't even imagine what 13,000 is going to be like."

Bradley will be back in Hanover this Friday, Nov. 28 for an appearance at the Dartmouth Bookstore at which he will sell and sign copies of the single.