The song “Higher Than Hope,” by Finnish metal band Nightwish, is about local deejay Marc Brueland, who lost his battle with cancer five years ago this week, on October 25, 2003.
Sample lyric: “The hopes were high/ the choirs were vast/ now my dreams are left to live through you.”
Brueland deejayed at Club Sabbat, a goth gathering then held Saturday nights at Shooterz in North Park. Despite being told he had a few weeks to live, Brueland made what he called a “holy pilgrimage” in September of 2003, flying to Atlanta to see his favorite band, Nightwish, make its U.S. concert debut. Keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen invited Brueland to watch the show from the stage in his wheelchair, accompanied by family members.
Before launching into Brueland’s favorite Nightwish song, “Walking in the Air,” Holopainen introduced the band’s “very special guest” and brought Brueland onto the stage for a hug. Though on heavy painkillers and barely able to speak, Brueland was seen standing up and banging his head during the song.
Inspired by their fading fan, Nightwish recorded “Higher Than Hope,” which features dialogue from an interview Brueland did with KFMB/News 8 after his first operation. Before recording was completed, Brueland died from complications related to a rare form of liver cancer. The song appeared on the 2004 album Once.
– Jay Allen Sanford