Three talented friends have joined forces to produce a powerful song inspired by the challenging after-effects of brain injury.
In the summer of 2022, Headway Berwick member Jim Montana was reflecting on the daily challenges of being a brain injury survivor, when he had a sudden moment of inspiration.
"I was sitting thinking of how I come across as slow sometimes with jokes or any information, as it takes a bit longer to process than is expected," said Jim.
"I thought about the many times I would stagger like a drunk person [due to the brain injury] and the isolation I put myself in, as my confidence to face people was at an all-time low."
Jim said he felt compelled to write these thoughts down on paper and share them with Northumberland singer-songwriter and friend, Ronnie Hek.
For the past five years, Ronnie has been playing at Headway Berwick's music sessions once a month and is also part of local music duo Kingfisher.
Jim's message to Ronnie expressing his thoughts, set the wheels in motion for what would later become the song 'The Penny Drops.' The lyrics express how Jim feels life has changed since acquiring his brain injury, but also serve as a reminder to others that despite the changes, he's still Jim.
'These days, the penny drops so much slower; these days, my confidence gets so much lower. A little off balance when I walk, a little slur when I talk.
'You knew me way back then; you knew me way back when. I may have changed, but I'm still me, look beyond the differences, and you will see.
'These days, the penny drops so much slower; these days, my confidence gets so much lower. I don't live in the past; I live for today; I deal with unseen battles and come what may.
'You never lost me; I'm still here, with you today and with you tomorrow. My heart filled with joy, no room for sorrow.
'These days, the penny drops so much slower; these days, my confidence gets so much lower. Stay with me and be my friend, our future, our happiness will know no end.'
Moved by what Jim had shared with him, Ronnie got to work turning Jim's powerful words into a song.
"I looked at these words and thought, ‘wow, this is amazing,’ and by the end of the day, I had written the tune," said Ronnie.
The following day, I picked up Jim on one of our many wildlife photography outings - he is also an amazing photographer - and played him the song, which brought tears to his eyes.
In the following weeks, Ronnie set about fine-tuning the song with his good friend Nicola Summers, who he performs with as Kingfisher.
Ronnie then had 'The Penny Drops' recorded with his friend Iain Petrie at Awake Music. The song is available on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music by clicking here, with all royalties going to Headway.
Jim is thrilled that 'The Penny Drops' has had such a positive reaction from others, including members of Headway Berwick - especially as he initially felt reluctant to join the group, but he's now very glad that he did.
"I felt comfortable and relaxed among these people who I now call my good friends,” he said. “I didn't need to explain when I struggled with the flaws that often arise because they understood completely and could relate to the same issues.
"I sent these words that I wrote to my good friend Ronnie Hek and asked him if what I wrote was a lot of rubbish, as this was unfamiliar territory for me. And him being a musician, I thought who better to tell me the truth that I had written a lot of jumbled nonsense. But he never thought that and told me he thought the words were brilliant in describing not only me, but many other brain injury survivors.”
Speaking about Ronnie and Nicola’s hard work, Jim added: “They put my words to music and song and breathed life into them. When I got to listen to what they had done, I cried, and when they played it to our Headway group, there were even more tears from some members.
Kingfisher has played it at several venues, and all response was positive. I am blown away with the reaction this song has and still is generating; thank you, everyone.
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