Sometimes a story you come across just takes your breath away, it’s so inspiring. This is how I felt when I found out when I read the story behind the Grammy-award winning song, “From a Distance” as told by the writer, Julie Gold:
“In 1978, at the age of 22, I came to New York in pursuit of my dream of being a songwriter. And while dreams are essential, they don’t pay the rent. For years, I worked various temp jobs while gigging at night and sending songs out whenever possible. I demonstrated vacuum cleaners, Mr. Coffees and toaster ovens. I worked the flea markets, as a proofreader, for a dentist and at a venetian blinds factory.
“It was a struggle. No health benefits. No money for recreational purposes. Desperation. Self doubt. Fear. We all know what that’s like. But, all the while, I clung to my dream like a life preserver. I knew why I was born, and no one could discourage me from reaching my mountaintop. I was willing to die trying. Honest I was. I finally gave in to taking a full-time job as a secretary at HBO in 1984. It was a smart move.
“Ah, the magic of a steady paycheck. In my spare time and evening hours, I was of course still gigging, writing songs and dreaming my big dream. Now, however, I didn’t have that horrible daily struggle of keeping my head above water financially.
“In 1985, just before my 30th birthday, my parents sent me the piano I grew up playing. I had just served as a juror on an emotionally trying case, my brother had just married, and I was questioning my life to date, wondering what my future could possibly hold.
“I took the day off work to be home when my piano arrived, and I remember how it glistened in the sun as the movers lowered it off the truck. My piano. My truest love and friend. My confidante. Back together again after all these years.
“It came into my little, one room apartment and fit just where I hoped it would. The movers told me that it had been on the truck for 24 hours, so I had to give it a chance to settle. They said I couldn’t play it for a full day. So there we were in the same room, unable to make music. I remember hugging it and polishing it. Then I went to bed. My bed was a high loft bed, and I looked down on my piano all night to make sure it was really there.
“The next day I sat down and “From a Distance” just poured out of me. On one hand, it took me two hours to write. On the other hand, it took me 30 years. Pick whichever hand makes you happy. I love them both.”
A happy ending: After sending demos of her song out and receiving plenty of rejections, through a friend of Julie’s, her song finally found its way to a well-known singer, who recorded it on an album. Later, the stirring lyrics attracted Bette Middler and the rest is history. You can find Bette’s lovely take on “From a Distance” on Youtube.
What a hopeful, inspiring story, isn’t it? Julie Gold kept chasing her dream until it blessed her. And we can all do the same as we all write on!
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