One day when I was 9 years old, I was in the school library and ventured alone into a back room where the lights were all turned off. I’d been told this area of the library was meant for bigger kids, off-limits to us little-uns, and I desperately wanted to see what the fuss was about.
I looked over my shoulder to see if the librarian was looking, and when the coast was clear, I slipped around the corner.
My little heart was pounding out of my chest. Like Mission: Impossible, I was going to have to be stealthy and quick: a thief in the night stealing forbidden knowledge. It was totally uncharacteristic of me to do something like this… I was no rebel! I was an uber shy and staunchly rule-abiding kid… but forbidding me from reading books was something I couldn’t abide even as a fourth grader. What was so special about those books in the secret part of the library? I had to find out.
At that point, I had heard the word “Shakespeare,” but didn’t know what or who it was…my eyes adjusted to the darkness and settled on a thick grey book with a red stripe on the binding with gold lettering that read: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare .
I withdrew it from the embrace of the other books around it and proceeded to take it to the librarian so I could check it out. Maybe I thought she wouldn’t notice? Big mistake.
The librarian asked me rather incredulously, “Where did you get this?!” My face blanched. I’d been caught red-handed. I pointed toward the back-room. The librarian shook her head and told me I wasn’t allowed to read that book, I had to pick another. I was crushed and begged her with my best 9-year-old puppy dog eyes to let me take it out anyway. She relented, but on the condition that I take out another book from my reading level. I agreed and chose a book about space that she felt met the requirement.
When I got home, I was beyond excited. Of course, I didn’t understand Shakespeare from the get-go. It took me a really long time… It’s like learning a foreign language… I just worked at it until the pieces started to fit together and the words start to make sense.
I kept taking the book out over and over again… renewing it every chance I got.
By the time the librarian asked me about it again, I was able to recite the prologue from Romeo and Juliet from memory… after that, she had me recite Shakespeare for the other teachers like some kind of party trick, but really, it was just me falling in love with poetry and the power and romanticism of words. This early love of language is a critical part of the foundation that resulted in me becoming a songwriter and ultimately led to me embarking on my journey to become an author myself.
As luck would have it, when the library was having a sale at the end of the year – the librarian let me buy the book for 50 cents. I still have the book in my possession today in the box where I keep my most special treasures. It’s priceless to me.
As a disclaimer: though I took a few college classes on Shakespeare and fell in love with it at an early age, I am hardly an expert. Like everything in life, I believe study is continuous and that there’s always more to learn.
So that brings us back to the music: my song “Worm’s Meat” has a few allusions to Romeo and Juliet, but with a modern twist and upbeat melody. I hope you enjoy it! Thank you so much for reading my story and for sharing this journey with me!
PS. The music video for the song comes out September 20th! Stay tuned!
Update: Watch the music video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXwbIaNfH_Q