Junior Brian Bristol plugs in his headphones to listen to Katie Ray, a high school friend who wrote two songs about him in Benson Great Hall May 18. Bristol shattered Ray’s heart after a high school homecoming dance, so Ray composed a song about the experience. “When she sang it to me, she said some pretty honest things she wasn’t too off about based on how I treated her previously,” Bristol said. “It was one of those Taylor Swift heart breaker situations.” | Photo by Mckenzie Van Loh

Play my song

Bethel student learns his lesson after his bad behavior debuts in two iTunes songs.

By Mckenzie Van Loh | Royal Report

Brian Bristol knew he did something wrong. He could tell by the way his homecoming date, country music singer Katie Ray acted as Bristol drove her home in his 2009 Toyota Rav4. Ray asked Bristol to come to her front porch. She swung her guitar out onto her lap. Honest words followed, echoing into the starry night sky. “Describe you in one word … scary, no, dangerous…” The song he heard would soon be available on iTunes.

“Dangerous” made its debut in 2012 on the album “All In” including another song written about Bristol, “Shame on Me”. Both songs have a place in Bristol’s music collection on his phone. They brush through his ears occasionally as he studies biology at Bethel University.

Junior Brian Bristol reminisces by pulling up two songs his friend Katie Ray wrote about him during their time at Osseo High School in Benson Great Hall May 18. Bristol listens to Ray from time to time despite the uncomplimentary words communicated through the song. “She’s a really talented artist,” Bristol said. “I enjoy listening to her in general.” | Photo by Mckenzie Van Loh

“She’s a really talented artist,” Bristol said. “I enjoy listening to her in general.” Despite the harsh words in high school, Bristol and Ray’s friendship still thrives.

The two had the opportunity to visit each other over spring break in Nashville, where Ray studies music business at Belmont University. They talked and laughed about their dramatic past.


“It was really awkward. It was a really bad idea, but it was nice to have it off my chest.” — Katie Ray, singer

Bristol and Ray kicked off their friendship during their sophomore year at Osseo High School while performing the musical “Working.” Ray asked him to the homecoming dance junior year. Bristol said yes, assuming they would go as friends. When Bristol danced with another girl who he had a crush on, Ray was infuriated. So she decided to sing the song she wrote about him before the dance to his face afterward.

“It was really awkward,” Ray said. “It was a really bad idea, but it was nice to have it off my chest.”

The rest of junior year consisted of awkward hellos and no deep conversations as they watched their friendship deteriorate.

“When she sang it to me, she said some pretty honest things she wasn’t too off about based on how I treated her previously,” Bristol said. “It was one of those Taylor Swift heart breaker situations.”


“My view of relationships with women has changed significantly. I am much more aware of how I act and what I say.” — Brian Bristol, junior

Proceeding the events of the homecoming dance, Bristol dated a mutual friend of him and Ray. While dating this girl, he learned that relationships should not exist for the thrill. Bristol learned that he needed to look for the value in girls and consider their feelings instead of lead them on.

“My view of relationships with women has changed significantly,” Bristol said. “I am much more aware of how I act and what I say.”

Soon Ray began to see changes in Bristol’s character, and they resumed communication senior year.

“We talked about it and moved on,” Bristol said. “She was very forgiving towards me.” Since the homecoming dance, Bristol learned to be aware of leading someone on. He chooses to be intentional about his feelings.

Senior Isaac Holst, one of Bristol’s best friends can testify to Bristol’s character change. Meeting each other at Bethel, Holst had a difficult time viewing his friend the way Ray’s songs portrayed him.

Junior Brian Bristol holds a glittery photograph of him and his friend Katie Ray in his dorm room at Bethel University May 18. Bristol and Ray posed for this photo their senior year after becoming homecoming royalty. “Brian’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met,” Ray said. “He’s so good at talking to people and handling things. He has a really good heart.”

“I see Brian as a really loyal and loving guy,” Holst said. “It’s tough to hear a song about him being a ladykiller. It doesn’t seem like a characteristic he would be capable of.”

Ray has learned a few pieces of wisdom from this situation as well.

“I learned how to deal with rejection,” Ray said. “Also about learning to be able to forgive someone and watch them change.”

Distance has not pulled Bristol and Ray apart. Their friendship doesn’t consist of much face time, but this results from the fact that more than 800 miles separate them.

“Brian’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met,” Ray said. “He’s so good at talking to people and handling things. He has a really good heart.”

When Ray performs in Minnesota, Bristol will go to see her. Ray swings her guitar on her lap, preparing to sing about heartbreak. Standing in the middle of the crowd, Bristol yells, “Play my song!” Ray chuckles to herself as she strums the familiar chords. Then she sings,

….describe you in one word….scary, no, dangerous…”