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Scar Power

While reading through the current issue of Wood&Steel, it occurred to me that I have my own story for any aspiring songwriter, and anyone who owns a Taylor guitar. Back in 1992, I was a waiter in Los Angeles, dreaming of being a songwriter and of owning a Taylor guitar. I saved my tip money, sold some old gear and guitars, and finally had enough money to call Taylor and put my order in on an 810 Dreadnought. It took almost a year, but it finally arrived to my Studio City apartment in its cardboard box. I was beside myself with excitement as I opened the case: the brand new smell, the shine, holding it like a newborn, playing it, hearing it!

At that time, I worked at a hotel restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. I worked the breakfast/lunch shift, which started at 5:30 a.m., so I was usually up at 4:30 a.m. to get ready for work. That was the case on January 17, 1994 when the Northridge earthquake struck at 4:31. I was holding onto a closet door for dear life as everything in my apartment was flying around, windows were breaking, and ultimately the entire apartment building was being jolted from its foundation. In the eerily quiet pitch-black aftermath, I somehow found a flashlight and began looking around. The windows were broken, the refrigerator was all the way across the kitchen, all the dishes were in a broken pile on the floor, furniture was toppled, and my precious new Taylor…

I held my breath as I opened the door to the room where I had been playing my new 810 just the night before. It was a mess. Books and papers everywhere. A floor-to-ceiling oak bookshelf face down diagonally across the room. And sticking out underneath: the headstock of my guitar. I was heartbroken. After counting my blessings that I was OK, and that broken things can be replaced, I carefully picked up the heavy bookshelf to check out the damage. The guitar had some pretty severe scratches and dents, but it was in one piece. [Soon afterward] I took my Taylor to a guitar tech in the Valley. He looked at it and told me that the wood was not cracked anywhere. After calling Taylor for me, he told me that they said the damage would make a better story than trying to refinish it, as it might affect the sound.

So the wounds from that earthquake remain on my guitar. All these years later. I’ve told the story of those scars to countless co-writers, session musicians and publishers through the years. And that guitar has blessed me in so many ways. I have written five No.1 songs on it, including the last two Jason Aldean singles, “Tattoos on This Town” and “Fly Over States”; Faith Hill’s Grammy-nominated song “The Way You Love Me,” as well as many, many songs for Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, Montgomery Gentry, Deana Carter, etc.

Thank you again for my guitar, the one that made my dreams come true.

Submitted by: Michael Dulaney

Thank you for reading.