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Bryan McGregor started writing songs two years ago. The death of his friend inspired the song he played at the vigil Oct. 28.
East County Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 7 years ago

Overdose victim inspires Ranch songwriter

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — In the courtyard between Manatee County’s judicial center and the old courthouse, Bryan McGregor picked up his guitar and began to sing.

Tired of seeing good people die

Because of their emptiness inside

The somber melody echoed in the area where about 100 people gathered to remember lives lost to drug overdoses or individuals struggling with addictions during Manatee County’s Red Ribbon National Candlelight Vigil Oct. 28.

If I could bring them all back

Oh God what would I say?

What would I say?

As McGregor strummed the final notes of his song — a song written for his friend Derek Spring, a Lakewood Ranch teenager who died of prescription drug overdose two years ago — a gentle applause caught the open air, the moment still somber.

The last time McGregor sang these words publicly were at his church, just two weeks after Derek’s death. Last week, he sang them again, hoping in someway, they would inspire others to reach out to people more purposefully.

“I just felt like I needed to write a song for (him),” McGregor said of Derek, who he knew through a friend. “(Derek) was my friend, but I didn’t know (what was going on). I should have said more — gotten to know him better.

“That’s how the song came about: What would I do if I had another chance?” he said. “When I wrote the song, it was because of Derek, but (another reason is) we have so many people in our lives we see every day and we don’t (really) know what they are going through.”

Although Derek is the only friend McGregor knows of who has faced hardship — and even death — because of drugs, McGregor admits it’s a scene he’s seen before. His own aunt and uncle have struggled with addictions on and off for the last 21 years.

“Now, it’s like I’d like to talk to them,” he said. “But they don’t want to listen. Derek would have taken help.”

McGregor is quick to point out that Derek’s addiction — while it may have cost him his life — is virtually no different from other strongholds people deal with, whether money, selfishness or something else.

“In the end, they are (just as bad),” the 21-year-old said. “They just haven’t hit us yet.”

McGregor, who moved back to the East County from Alaska just a few months ago, began playing the drums when he was 13 years old. Although he wrestled in middle school and enjoys being outside and playing sports, his primary interest always has been music. The 2009 Lakewood Ranch High School graduate played in the band and sang in the choir of his alma mater, as well.

His interest in songwriting developed about four years ago.

“It just kind of happened,” he said. “I thought I had more to say (than I could on the drums).”

McGregor turned to his uncle, who played guitar in a country band, for guidance and lessons. The first song McGregor learned was “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Although he started off playing country music, McGregor’s work now falls into the soft acoustic/modern rock genre. His songs are about things he feels, his perspective of the world and about challenges people have faced.

“It feels good to express (myself),” McGregor said of songwriting. “It’s really something I’d like to do as a career.”

McGregor also is pursuing an interest in becoming an auto mechanic.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].


“This Moment”
by Bryan McGregor

Tired of seeing good people die
Because of their emptiness inside
And their emptiness they hid
They fill with those lies Satan’s laughing as they die
But Jesus’ tears are falling from your eyes

Don’t ever let me let that moment slip away ‘cause I’m so tired of saying good-bye

If I could bring them all back
Oh God what would I say?
What would I say?

Memories light night at NOPE vigil
Brian Drymon has seen how prescription drugs can ruin families.

A year ago, his best friend, Chris Barnett, died from a misuse of prescription drugs. After an overdose sent Barnett to the hospital, doctors there told him “if he could walk, he could leave,” Drymon said.

And now, Barnett is dead.

“It hurts,” Drymon said of the loss. “He’s got three little girls. I have to see them every day. It hurts like hell.
“The community needs to be aware of what this is doing,” he said of the prescription drug problem. “It’s destroying everybody. I have kids of my own. They need to be aware of the dangers.”

Drymon was one of dozens of Manatee County residents who attended the Red Ribbon National Candlelight Vigil Oct. 28 at the Manatee Judicial Center.

The event, a partnership between the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the Manatee County Victims Rights Council and Families Against Addicting Drug Abuse, included performances by Braden River High School’s Rhapsody Choir, guest speaker Dr. Lora Brown, testimonies, a candle-lighting ceremony and more.

Brown, a doctor with Coastal Pain & Rehabilitation and a member of the Governor’s Cabinet for the state’s new Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, said opiate drug use tripled from 1999 to 2006, and the availability of prescription drugs in Florida “is unprecedented” — so much, in fact, that people from other states come here to buy them.

For more photos from the vigil, click here.

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