Just like after writing “Whisper Of The Wind”, I tried again for weeks to create original music but nothing ever came of it. I was tired of forcing myself to do something that always left me frustrated and feeling defeated. Music was supposed to be the tool for releasing my negative energy, not more fuel for the negativity. I thought ‘why even bother with song writing when I can easily write in my journal or write a poem when I’m feeling emotionally over-whelmed’. So, over the next several years I didn’t make any real attempts to write music.
These years weren’t fruitless though, they were essential in helping me break through a plateau I had reached musically. I was incredibly fortunate to have a best friend who was always looking for a chance to play guitar together. We began to play a lot, and on nights we’d had a few beers, he would even coerce me into singing cover songs with him. We would usually sing the same songs each time but it didn’t matter, it felt amazing to be playing and singing again. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was critical in helping me become comfortable with performing in front of others.
Probably the biggest benefit to me, he encouraged me to solo over his chord progressions. Slowly but surely, I started learning how to vocalize with my guitar. I think almost every beginner guitarist goes through a phase where they want to be able to solo like the greats. I’d played guitar for 5 years at this point, so I had been through this phase a few times and given up hopes of being a talented lead guitarist. Things were different this time; I was in a different state of mind about playing. I let go of my ambitions to play like Stevie Ray Vaughn or Hendrix, I stopped telling myself I wasn’t good enough to solo, and I just played for the enjoyment of it. And even when it didn’t sound good, it didn’t keep me down. Because when it sounded good, I felt untouchable, like I had unlocked something special in myself. I loved to “sing” with my guitar, free from lyrics and any self-imposed judgements of how bad my voice was. I can honestly say that I don’t know if I’d be where I am now if I didn’t have him around for those years, always with a guitar in his hand asking me if I wanted to play.
Fast-forward to Spring of 2014, I’m in the final year of my undergraduate degree. I was in a relationship that lasted about 2.5 years but was slowly falling apart as we both finished our degrees. Whether I wanted it or not, I could sense the inevitability of the end. Once again, I was withdrawn from the world. Whenever my best friend would visit, we didn’t play guitar and sing anymore. Instead we’d drink and watch “Friends” to escape from reality. I was aware enough of the impact of my emotions at this point to know that when things got tough, I abandoned the two things I needed most, guitar and writing. So one day I sat on the couch, guitar in hand, plucking notes while I stare out the window wistfully. It was a miserably hot day and I was daydreaming about being snowed in, living in the big city. Like those two fated times before, something about the music resonated with me and I felt the urge to vocalize my emotions. In my heart I was so incredibly sad about my relationship, but I wanted to believe that I’d be alright no matter what happened:
There’s a snowfall, in my city tonight
But I will be alright, I’ve got nowhere to be
And it’s lonely, in my sand-castle of a home
It’s no fun to be all alone, but I think I’ll be fine
And I am not a stranger, to the strangest part of life
And I’m not gonna blame her, for being away from my heart tonight
… Snowfall (2014)
The song combined both the sadness I felt about the relationship, with my intense desire to remain strong in the face of uncertainty. And this time I was eager to share my song the moment I finished it (several days later). I felt like I really had something special, and I shared it with a few close friends and family. The reception was overwhelmingly positive. I’ll never forget my little brother asking me to play it again right after I finished; He was in love with chorus. To this day he tells me “When I heard that song, I knew it was going to be big”. The outpouring of encouragement made me think for the very first time that maybe I did have a talent worth sharing.