Ever since his childhood home in Joplin sustained severe damage in the 2011 tornado, Columbia firefighter Walt Goodman has been raising money to rebuild it.
But on the same week Goodman heard that the house would be torn down, his longtime co-worker Lt. Bruce Britt died in the wake of a partial collapse of a University Village walkway.
On top of the news about his home, the loss of Britt made the weight on Goodman’s heart even heavier.
“I would call (Britt) more of a brother than a friend,” he says. “(Britt) was an extraordinary firefighter and a really good man, and I think the entire department is kind of shocked that, of all people, we would have lost him.”
Goodman commemorated Britt by recording a song, entitled “Winds of Change.”
Goodman originally wrote the song after the Joplin tornado to honor the victims. Among those lost was his father, who died three months after the tornado from health complications related to trying to restore the storm-battered house.
After Britt's death, Goodman decided to officiate the song, with the help of local Columbia band Enso, to send a message of hope to the grieving community.
“I hope that it brings me some peace to play it,” Goodman says. “And I hope that somebody who’s also experienced loss could have some of the same comfort in the song.”
Enso had a recording time at Columbia recording studio Ninth Planet Studios days before Britt’s Feb. 27 memorial service, band frontman Justin Mayfield says.
Mayfield says he decided to help out a friend and give the band’s recording spot to Goodman. Along with other Enso members, Mayfield provided back-up instrumentals to enhance the track.
Enso bassist Eric Wiedemeier was one of the collaborators. He says he felt privileged to be a part of the project.
“I was definitely not going to let this opportunity go past me,” Wiedemeier says. “Even though I didn’t know Bruce personally, I was extremely honored to give back to the community in the form of music.”
Wiedemeier also says music can be a good outlet for the grieving community to relate to.
“Music is what feelings sound like,” Wiedemeier said. “It’s a way to channel everybody's feelings into some universal message that everyone can relate to.”
Mayfield says he thinks the recording, which is available on Soundcloud, will bring the community comfort and help Goodman as a musician, as well.
“I know he's an artist at heart, and sometimes it's the hard things that bring out the core of ... the artist,” Mayfield says. “I've found that when you hang on to that, the trials of life don't seem so insurmountable anymore.”