The Third Half

A Wednesday morning phone call woke me with news that one of my best childhood friends, Benson Krause, had died.

Portrait

It had been more than 10 years since my last letter went unanswered. It was harder to keep in touch after he moved back to Chicago when we were 15 years old. I’m left with a deep sense of loss; I always hoped we’d reunite one day, reminiscing about the good old days and share where our lives had taken us.

The Krause family drove from Chicago to San Diego in the early ’90s. Benson’s father preached at the 7th & Orange Church of Christ in Escondido. One evening, a group from the church came over to my parents’ house. Benson and I sat in my room to avoid the crowd, learning about each others musical tastes. He picked up my keyboard and began teaching me the chords to “One” by U2. I played and he sang. We may have stumbled through it like an awkward first dance, but it changed my relationship with music forever.

One night, we stared at the ceiling in sleeping bags on the livingroom floor of his parents’ house. We threw out ideas for naming our new band. We had the concept down pretty quickly — something that embodied the idea of being out of place, just a step outside the circle. We settled that night on The Third Half.

Benson wrote the music and lyrics, I played along and generally followed his lead. Kenrick Buchanan joined the mix and we recorded some tracks. Soon after we released our first album “Thirsty,” which we sold for $5 at church.

The Third Half - Thirsty

One Sunday morning, his father Jim was preaching. He spoke about being corrupted by the world and used his youngest son Timothy’s innocence as an example. He said Tim was sitting in the pew making gestures with his hands and wound up being fascinated with his middle finger. Jim explained how it meant nothing outside the context of the world’s negative influence. What he did next is something no one in the audience that day will forget. He rested both wrists on the pulpit with two middle fingers extended upward. “Does this offend you?” he asked. I applaud the man’s courage, but needless to say it caused controversy. Not long after, the family returned to Chicago.

A year later, I boarded a plane at age 16 for my first flight alone. I brought the keyboard and an electric guitar that Kenrick had been teaching me to play. Benson and I recorded sessions that become “Water Compan and the Go-Go-Gadget Arms” and “Join the Family.”

Bandanas

Tribute to Water Compan & The Go-Go-Gadget Arms

The group in California kept practicing, adding Javier Ortiz and my cousin Josh Gibbs. Meanwhile, Benson sent a solo tape called “Wit’s End.” Through the following year, we recorded music and sent it to Benson to add vocals and mixing. He sent us a tape with the album title “Satisfied: The Final Reunion (version one and two).” It had become harder to stay in touch at a distance and somehow we knew the title was appropriate.

Later that year, I made another trip to Chicago for his sister’s wedding, though we hadn’t spoken in months. Seeing him again, it was clear we were growing older and apart. We recorded a couple of tracks but there was no album coming in the mail.

Benson in Studio

A year or two later, I got news that Benson’s mother Benja was killed in a car accident. The yearly updates that followed included a lot of ups and downs. The last letter I sent included a Delirious? album “Live & In The Can.” I told him I loved him and tried to send a message of hope. I never heard back and feared it ended up in a box, dismissed as an overly spiritual message.

Music was an ever-present part of his life. In the years since we lost touch he continued to make music as as the vocalist for the band Ophur. Their website allowed me to follow him a bit closer, watching live performances and listening to their latest recordings.

The Benson I knew was a passionate friend, a talented musician, and a loving son and brother. He inspired me creatively and played a crucial role in my adolescence. I wouldn’t be the same without his influence and he will always be a part of me.

[ temporary note: I'm going to update this post in the coming week as I reconstruct some details, upload more images, and add audio from the albums ]

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12 Comments »

  Gravatar kenrick wrote @ January 27th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

thank you for the write up nate. i know that musically ill never be the same, and it hurts so deep to lose someone like him. when he moved back here to live with me for a brief time (you were away at abilene) i had hopes that things would change for him a little bit spiritually and emotionally. he was always depressed in the quiet times of the day, things only seemed to get worse for him once his mother died.

ill work on cleaning up those tracks, plus rip a bunch more from tapes that he and i just sent back and forth, there really are some gems on there. i just hope my antiquidated tape player doesn’t die in the process. i also have some early tapes with more crazy artwork on them that ill scan tomorrow at work. ill ask javier (who played bass on the final renunion tape actually) if he still has the cover art for that tape, as I can not find mine.

  Gravatar Nathan wrote @ January 27th, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Thanks for that Kenrick. I found two versions of album artwork for “Satisfied: The Final Reunion” at my parents’ house (both missing the tapes inside). And I updated the Javier reference, too. I can’t wait to hear those tracks between the two of you.

  Gravatar Javier wrote @ January 28th, 2008 at 12:11 am

Hey guys, I think I do have that cover artwork you both aer talking about. I’ll look over my old big memories box and see if it’s there.

Even though I never actually met Benson personally, I totally feel devastated about his death.

  Gravatar oso wrote @ January 28th, 2008 at 9:00 am

Nathan, this is an extremely touching post. I’m sorry for your loss. I am glad that you’re able to keep Benson’s memory alive by continuing the creativity that brought the two of you together in the first place. I am looking forward to hearing the audio.

  Gravatar Joe wrote @ January 28th, 2008 at 10:02 am

This story has really affected me. I’ve re-written this comment too many times because it’s unearthed so much emotion that I can’t quite translate yet, but I’ll say that yesterday it made me cry and then drum.

I’m really sorry for your loss, and really glad you’re documenting your reflections.

  Gravatar aaryn b. wrote @ January 28th, 2008 at 11:47 am

I’m really sorry for your loss, Nathan. This is a touching post and I look forward to having some quiet time to myself when I can listen to some of this music.

  Gravatar Tammy wrote @ January 28th, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Nathan, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  Gravatar cindylu wrote @ January 29th, 2008 at 1:02 am

nathan,
sorry for you loss. thanks for sharing the photos, songs and memories.

  Gravatar Marina Eberwein wrote @ January 31st, 2008 at 11:09 am

So sorry to hear of Benson’s death. I remember the Krause’s like it was yesterday, and all those fun times at the old 7th and Orange building with our youth group and friends. Remember how we used to walk through the alley to the Annex on Wednesday nights? Wow… Steve and I will pray for his family and friends tonight. Take care, Nate and Kenrick.

  Gravatar danielle wrote @ February 5th, 2008 at 9:29 am

for some reason I have had the same difficulty keeping in touch with friends from my childhood/school. growing away from the friends that once were the only outlet and support during wondrous adolesence is not something that i wanted, it just happened. we remember them as the youthful play mates. as we age into other roles and relationships it’s imperative to remember the people we have ‘moved from’ not in regret but to relive. all is in its place. keep your chin up.

  Gravatar bryn wrote @ September 20th, 2010 at 11:11 am

wish he would come back.

  Gravatar Day 19: Sheared | Hair Shows wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 6:58 pm

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