I watched the film "Once" tonight!
Its an independent film starring Glen Hansard from "The Frames" and "Swell season"
I have been a big admirer of Glen for a long time now and for some reason I never watched Once until now. I guess I was waiting for the right time.
Its an amazing film and it started me thinking about the past couple of years and my road back into full time guitar building.
You see a couple of years ago I had to shut down Emerald guitars due to circumstances beyond my control. It was gut wrenching to step away from something I had put my life and passion into for 10 years. I thought I could walk away but I guess it had too strong a hold on me. I found myself working on my other business by day while still making guitars by night but it was tough. We weren't making money and the hours were taking a toll on my family life. With a wife and 4 kids its not just about working hard.
Things were getting to a head and I found myself at a cross roads. I had been listening to a song by Glen that had the line "when you want something so much it starts causing trouble in your life" thats exactly where I was with the guitar business.
I decided to go off on a sales trip for my other business which was making fibreglass tanks and just get some head time. I found myself on the west coast of Ireland and booked into a little hotel in a tiny town called Doolin which just happen to be beside the famous cliffs of Moher. I checked in and then took a walk up to the cliffs. It was late in the evening and all the tourists had gone except for a few french people who thought it would be cool to hit golf balls of the top of the cliffs.
Its an amazing place. These are some of the highest cliffs in Europe reaching 700ft from the Atlantic Ocean. I found a quiet place on the edge of the cliffs and with my feet dangling over the edge started to contemplate my future. I watched the sun set as the waves rolled in.
It was a magical place on a magical night.
I found myself crying out to God asking what I should do. My heart said I am a guitar builder but my mind said I need to stick to the more practical business. Its a dilemma that so many have gone through before me. The need to be creative versus the need to provide for the family that are my inspiration.
I left the cliffs that night without answers but with a certain contentment that the answers would come.
I slept well that night and the next day I drove to my first appointment in Listowel in county Kerry. It was a long drive but a beautiful one and on the way down I heard on the radio that Glen Hansard had been nominated for an Oscar for the song Falling slowly from the film Once. I was so happy. Glen had visited my factory just before we closed down and it was an amazing experience to have him and the band sit in my office playing guitars. I have admired Glen so much for his dedication to his music and has always chosen the integrity of his music over commercial success. It was great to hear that success had sought him out.
I was early for my meeting so I pulled into a petrol station to get a breakfast roll. I was sitting in my big white rusty van eating my unhealthy breakfast of two sausages a slice of bacon and a fried egg all bunged into a soft white bread roll when I noticed a familiar figure walking out of the shop. It was Glen!!!!
I jumped out of the van and called to him and he said "Alistair what are you doing here", he kind of stole my question. He was the last person I expected to see after hearing of his success and in such an unlikely and remote place. It was a short conversation but he said "I was just talking about you the other day, your guitars, you have something there, stick with it" That was about all he said before he wandered off with his coffee.
I dont know if you believe in devine appointments or perhaps you call it fate or even luck but there was no one else that I could have met that morning that could have had such a profound effect on me. It was the right words at the right time.
I think right then I knew who I was. I am a guitar builder, its something that is beyond my control, its who I am and I have to pursue it.
Many twists and turns have occurred in the 2 years since then that I could write a book about but that was the moment that kept me motivated that kept me swimming against the tide. My other business failed during the recession and possibly because my heart wasnt in it. It was costly but has brought that adversity that breeds inspiration. I am now 100% focused on rebuilding Emerald guitars and we have already made huge steps. This past month has been the best sales in 5 years and I know I am building and designing the best guitars of my life!
Glen went on to win the oscar and funnily enough right now I am building some model glider parts for his bass player (a long story) and another interesting fact is that shortly after that Benny the Busker bought one of my guitars to play on the cliffs of Moher where he busks every day. Some kind of strange alignment there.
Anyway tonight I just wanted to commit these thoughts to words and give you guys an insight into why Emerald guitars has risen from the ashes.