My name is Brooks Cowles and I've had the privilege of knowing Jean Marc since Middle School. Even though we've known each other since entering Lovett, our friendship didn't really begin until the first time I ever went over to Jean's house in 8th grade. We had this very small group of buddies who were absolutely obsessed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We knew every album, song, and every word. So Jean, being the musician he is, decided that he wanted to do a Chili Peppers song for the 8th grade talent show. For those who didn't know, Jean was an amazingly talented guitarist and he also recruited Joe Bailey who is an awesome bass player, and for some reason that I will never know, they asked me to be the singer. I'm assuming it was just because they knew that I knew all the words, definitely not because they had heard legend of my voice or anything. Anybody who knows me well can tell you that I have an absolutely god-awful singing voice, and that I make up for it by being completely tone-deaf and having zero rhythm. So needless to say, we got over to Jean's house and tried the song out a couple of times and I remember Jean saying to me after 30 minutes or so, in the nicest possible way, "You know what man, I think I'm just going to do a guitar solo." And he did. And he blew everyone away like he did several times with his guitar.
Even though our breakout performance as a band didn't work out, Jean never lost that passion for performing and bringing everyone together. As I think back over all the amazing times I shared with Jean, my favorites are all the late nights when Jean broke out his guitar. Whether it was graduation night in Van Horn's basement, in the Bama dorms when I visited freshman year, or even if we had just done absolutely nothing, Jean could always pull out his guitar and I've never seen a room light up faster. I can't count how many times we just all sat there singing, and drinking and laughing until we couldn't anymore.
I'll never forget the most recent time I stopped in Tuscaloosa and stayed with Jean. We had every intention of going out and were ready to do so, but ultimately ended up just sitting there listening to Jean play guitar, JH tear it up on the keyboard and me sound like a dying animal. But it didn't matter how it sounded. It never did. What mattered was that we were doing exactly what we wanted to do at that moment and it all started with Jean breaking out his guitar and bringing pure joy and laughter to anybody in the room. If you were ever part of one of those sessions, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you weren't, then you probably saw him do it in a hundred different ways. It didn't matter when, where or how, Jean could always bring people together and make them happy, even it it was just for a moment.
And as I think about those times and realize now that I will never be able to share those times with Jean again, it's easy to get angry. It's easy to wonder how in gods name the sun is still shining, people are still ring to work and the world is still spinning. You just wanna ask, "Don't you know we just lost one of our best friends?"
The answer is "no", they don't know. And the harsh truth is that life goes on and the world keeps spinning no matter how bad we are hurting. But for those of us who knew Jean well, we know that he was always a deep thinker. And, I know that if he was sitting here today listening to me talk, he would say, "that's the beauty of it man, the world does keep spinning, life does go on. Embrace it."
And I think that's exactly what we should do. Jean, like the rest of us, had his low moments, but he always bounced back. I know he would encourage us to bounce back from this. We need to move on and live life to the fullest, just like Jean did. We need to carry him with us where every we go, always talk about him, always remember him, and even if we don't have the talent that Jean had, we need to do our best to bring people together and lift their spirits, even if just for a moment, because that's exactly what Jean would have wanted.