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Teen songwriter with cancer is YouTube sensation

8:03 AM, Dec 31, 2012   |    comments
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Zach's song "Clouds" -- posted on YouTube in November -- has already been viewed nearly 1.5 million times.

For any other artist that might portend a bright future, but Zach wrote the song as a message to those he loves about his terminal cancer.

"That was kind of just like a cry for help honestly," said Zach from the bedroom of his home in Lakeland. "I needed someone to drop a rope down to me."

Zach was starting his senior year at Stillwater High School this past fall -- out of treatment options for his Osteosarcoma -- and listening to his classmates talk about college plans, while Zach was unsure if he'd live long enough to even go.

When she first heard "Clouds," Zach's childhood friend Sammy Brown was struck by the song's cheery melody, married to lyrics that pulled no punches.

"The song was kind of a way to communicate to me and to everybody in his life. What he was going through," Sammy said.

Radio station KS95 arranged for a studio and musicians to record the song, with Zach doing vocals.

No one expected what followed.

Spread by both old and new media, "Clouds" has not only piled up YouTube views, but has inspired several tributes on the video sharing site, including one from an entire elementary school class.

Supportive notes have arrived at the Sobiech home from all over the world, among them, autographed photos from Dolly Parton and John Elway.

The Green Bay Packers sent a box filled with Packers' memorabilia and a signed photo of Aaron Rodgers. While Zach appreciated the gesture, he left the Rodgers photo in the box for now. He is, after all, a die-hard Vikings fan.

Money has also poured in to the cancer fund Zach's set up through the Children's Cancer Research Fund. Already, $50,000 dollars has been raised through donations and downloads of Zach's song.

Zach's parents, Laura and Rob Sobiech, never imagined the song would find an audience beyond Zach's circle of family and friends.

They have, however, come to understand its appeal.

"He didn't really hide anything with this song and I think that's what people connect to. This kid isn't hiding where he's at," said Zach's dad.

Zach's prognosis is not good -- a few months perhaps, doctors have told him. Still, he applied for, and was granted admission into, the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2013.

And until then, Zach is enjoying his time with his high school classmates and his new-found success as a songwriter.

"My situation might not get better, but the fact that I can affect other people's lives while I'm here in a good way, by writing, that just means the world to me," he said.

These are the lyrics to "Clouds" - written by Zack Sobiech:

Well I fell down, down, down
Into this dark and lonely hole
There was no one there to care about me anymore
And I needed a way to climb and grab a hold of the edge
You were sitting there holding a rope.
And we'll go up, up, up
But I'll fly a little higher
We'll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won't be long now, it won't be long now.
When I get back on land
Well I'll never get my chance
Be ready to live and it'll be ripped right out of my hands
Maybe someday we'll take a little ride
We'll go up, up, up and everything will be just fine.
And we'll go up, up, up
But I'll fly a little higher
We'll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear.
It won't be long now, it won't be long now
If only I had a little bit more time
If only I had a little bit more time with you.
We could go up, up, up
And take that little ride
And sit there holding hands
And everything would be just right
And maybe someday I'll see you again
We'll float up in the clouds and we'll never see the end.
And we'll go up, up, up
But I'll fly a little higher
We'll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won't be long now, it won't be long now.

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