Soldier song touches a chord

— When Rachel Loy sat down to write a song about her friend serving in Iraq, she thought it could become an anthem for people whose loved ones were fighting in the war.

But the 20-year-old college student quickly jettisoned the idea.

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Rachel Loy wrote "The Same Man," about her Marine reservist friend serving in Iraq. Loy's song was recently been released by Epic Records. Loy, 20, is a junior at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

"I was like, 'No, I can't think about that or it's going to be cheesy,'" recalled Loy, a junior at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. "So I just thought about my friend and I wrote it for him."

However, her original thought is proving to be prophetic. "The Same Man," a moving ballad about Marine reservist Matthew Brake, has garnered airplay on radio stations nationwide and attracted the attention of the national media.

"It's very heartfelt, it's very real," said Peter Ganbarg, a top executive at Epic Records, which is releasing the song. "It's universal ... everyone can relate to those lyrics."

In the song, Loy paints a picture of a gentle man bravely serving his country. At one point, she sings: "'Cause the same man who held me so close that night is the same man who is sleeping with his gun, and the same man who would never ever start a fight is the same man who would never ever run."

Loy, who's from Austin, Texas, started dating Brake, a 21-year-old firefighter also from Austin, last year during her spring break. After she returned to Boston, the two maintained a friendship through frequent telephone calls.

In January, their last phone conversation, he told her he was heading to Kuwait in preparation for a war in Iraq, where he's now serving. She asked him if he was scared.

"He was like, 'Honestly, I've been ready for this moment for a long time, and this is what I trained for, and I'm ready to go,'" she said. "And he was ready to do his duty and that's so cool to me, that there are people who are just moved and called to serve our country like that."

The song, which simply features her singing with an acoustic guitar, was written after the war started.

"We heard the song, and it was a one-listen no-brainer," Ganbarg said. "It just tugged at your heart, and it's just a beautiful song."

The song went on sale earlier this week.

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