For local country singer and songwriter Tyler Findlater, junior in communications, good country music is music that tells a story from the beginning of the song to the end. Findlater’s own story is what led him to music.
In Findlater’s second semester at Auburn, he was sitting in class in the Shelby Center when his world went black.
“When I came to, I stood up to leave the class, and the left side of my body just didn’t function the right way,” Findlater said. “Kind of like if you step into a hole with the left side of your body.”
Nineteen-year-old Findlater was having a stroke.
His boss picked him up and took him to the emergency room. He was then airlifted to UAB Hospital, was kept there for a few days and was in class again the next week.
“The stroke happened on a Wednesday,” Findlater said. “I was back in class again on a Tuesday.”
Findlater said he didn’t receive a lot of information during his rehabilitation process.
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“They didn’t tell me I’d have a bunch of residual effects,” Findlater said.
Findlater said he would notice a number of things off about his body. He couldn’t be in rooms with flourescent lighting without his eyes bothering him, walking was harder than he expected it to be and his left side was unusually weak.
That’s when Findlater turned to guitar as a way to strengthen his left hand.
“I’d never picked one up before,” Findlater said. “I never even thought about music. I just started playing to rehab my hand, and it helped a lot.”
Findlater said he kept doing it, and that’s been his passion ever since.
Findlater, who received several offers in high school to golf in college, said music gave him a creative outlet he’d never had before.
“I was always a country club kid, but I had the stroke and decided I should live a little more,” FIndlater said. “I got a couple tattoos, grew my hair out and started playing guitar – a midlife crisis in my early 20s.”
Now 22, Findlater has been singing with his guitar for a few years.
Findlater said his most significant musical influences are “older” country artists, such as Don Williams, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
“I think with a lot of the music I play, like the older stuff, it connects people to their past,” Findlater said. “We’re not in the time now you get to turn on the radio and hear people like Don Williams and really good old lyricists like that, lyrics that tell a story.”
Findlater tries to connect with people through his original work, too.
Findlater said one of the major lingering effects post-stroke is depression and anxiety.
“I dealt with that hard,” Findlater said. “Another thing that happens, too, is your brain is triggered in weird ways, and you have emotions you wouldn’t normally have.”
Findlater said for up to six months after his stroke he would either laugh or cry at random times with no particular reason.
“The depression and stuff was a big time for me, so I write about trying to connect in that way,” Findlater said. “I’m not trying to point out depression but trying to find ways to give people a little release from stuff like that.”
Findlater said he thought depression was particularly prevalent among the college-aged demographic.
“Everybody’s kind of depressed a little, in my opinion,” Findlater said. “If you can link to people with stuff like that and give them some kind of relief, that’s the biggest thing for me that I would like to do.”
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