I remember that moment walking into my room early in the afternoon. The sun filtered through the leaves of the palm trees and speckled patterns of shadows along the wall. A ray of light illuminated an old friend leaning against the closet.
We hadn’t spoken in some time. The maple fretboard had accumulated a thin layer of dust, the strings were brittle and rusty, and the wood had warped from the dry air of summer. Beyond physical imperfections, the instrument had accompanied me for thirteen years; taking snapshots along the way.
The temptation caught me. I was twenty-three, and I had so much to say. I didn’t know what exactly, but I wanted to find out. I pulled Mr. Gibson out of the cobwebs.
The first few chords I played my fingers were stiff, and the notes rattled. There wasn’t much music being played only sparse vibrations of sound. Then I positioned my fingers in a seemingly unremarkable position and struck my pick down. In an instant, there was no longer meaningless noise.
Out of initial chaos the universe had channeled into order. A harmony of three notes was all I needed to write a story.
I wrote down the line on an unpaid parking ticket:
“When I was a young man…”
That evening I was scheduled to fly home to Denver for the holidays.
Time had evaded me. Two hours had passed, and I had missed my flight.
I raced to the airport, hoping to squeeze on board, but I was too late.
I should have been a little upset, but I was still thinking about the song I had unearthed from the shadows. The entire world felt insignificant.
I felt like an archeologist digging up treasure. The song was there; I just had to put the pieces together.
I took another flight home but had to leave my guitar behind.
The next two weeks I could only think about getting my fingers back on the fretboard and putting pen on paper. I wanted to write on my guitar, not someone else’s.
When I finally got back, the words poured on to the page.
“Take a look it’s all around, everyone has their own gem waiting to be found. It’s not outside you and time won’t tell, but you are that red rose under the shell.”
“I was a young man looking to find my pot of gold. I drove for miles down the deserts in the dark on a one-way road. I was looking to hide, but nowhere I found until I realized love was inside.”
The song was a coming of age story about rising from the depths of loneliness and despair to finding true happiness and fulfillment within.
The song wasn’t the first I had written but was the first that was truly my own.