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"Your song made me think about the life I'm living," one admirer wrote. Another said: "If this doesn't reach your heart, you don't have one." And yet another added: "Thank you for being here in this moment Zach and sharing your heart with the world. Shine on Zach, sing on, and mainly, live on."
Sobiech appreciates the feedback.
"The ability to touch someone through my music is amazing," he said. "I know what the song meant to me, but to have it mean something to other people is really, really cool."
The song's skyrocketing popularity is a result of more than its background, Seeman said.
"Yes, the story behind it is poignant and touching and moving," he said. "But beyond that, it's a good song. The key to all this is that the music is good."
After originally recording the song on his cellphone, Sobiech played it for his guitar teacher, who had him record it again on equipment he keeps in his home. Seeman, who was in the process of arranging KS95's annual cancer-research radiothon, heard that version and called a friend, pianist John Lynn. Within 24 hours, Lynn had rounded up a group of professional musicians who were willing to donate their talents, and Minneapolis-based Atomic K Records offered to provide free studio time. The resulting version is the one on YouTube and iTunes.
Happy, not sad
The song reflects Sobiech's sunny personality, Brown said.
Despite the subject matter, "what comes out is hopeful," she said. "It's upbeat."
Sobiech has his down moments, he admits. They often happen when the reality of his situation hits him by surprise. For instance, the first day of school when the seniors were warned not to coast through their final year if they planned to go to college.
"I faced a decision: Am I going to work on school or work on living my life?" he said. "I told my teachers that I probably wasn't going to be doing my homework, that I was going to concentrate on having fun and working on my music. They understood."
He laughs when he describes his creative style. He writes the lyrics first, usually in the form of a poem, "which is ironic, because I took a poetry class in junior high and hated it. I thought it was the stupidest thing in the world."
He's hoping to come up with enough songs to fill another CD, but he knows better than anyone that the future is not guaranteed.
"I'm working as hard as I can to produce quality material," he said. "I'm going to keep moving forward with music."
Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392