25 years ago, my first solo album hit the Billboard charts. At the time, I was signed with Sound of America Records, and I was the second artist signed to the label. This was an exciting time, and both the label and I were thrilled to celebrate.
To commemorate the moment, the president, A&R guy, and chief janitor (all the same guy) and I went to dinner and at the dinner, he gave me a sterling bracelet, one of a kind, that he’d had from the early days of XIT (Google them, they were huge in the 70′s). Tom Bee’s gift rarely left my wrist. There are many photographs of me in concert, wearing this highly-prized bit of jewelry.
911 brought new airport security measures, requiring jewelry to be removed at the security checkpoint.
12 years ago, when going through the security line at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, my bracelet disappeared between where it went into the machine and where it came out of the machine. It turned into a nightmare when I was arrested for yelling at a TSA officer, because I was quite certain it was in his pocket. It occurred just before a shift change, and the supervisor was loathe to ask her officers on that line to empty their pockets.
Regardless, my prized silver bracelet was gone and I’ve missed it ever since.
The original idea was to simply re-create it from photographs, and this should have been a fairly straightforward, easy task. This wasn’t the case. Custom jewelry artist after another tried and either failed, or admitted it wasn’t so easy to do. Eventually, I gave up.
Given some recent circumstances and changes in my life, I picked up the sword again and decided I would not give up.
Burning up the cell phone, Google, and word of mouth eventually brought me to Charles Freshman of Freshman’s in Salt Lake City, UT. He seemed enthusiastic, although he cautioned me that this simple appearance was actually quite complex in the making, especially in sterling.
So, we set out to make a bracelet together and voila!
Since we didn’t have the original bracelet from which to create the mold, I used a small bit of cord to create the concept in size. Everyone else had wanted to actually heat silver and attempt tying the knot. Molding created a special problem, as the size didn’t really lend itself to the molding process. Charles came up with the idea of creating a long, thin mold that would later allow for the long ‘arms’ of silver to be re-formed into the ‘horns’ of the bracelet. The biggest challenge was keeping the wax cool enough to form, while warm enough to properly allow for a knot to be tied in it. Several feet of wax was destroyed in the process of tying knots in it.
Next up came the casting process. Due to the way the mold pours, it was much harder than expected.
At the end of the day, I’m very pleased with the final product. Although this has been a long process, I’m reminded of how important some material things may be in our lives, not so much for what they are, but rather for what they represent.
The experiences with SOAR Records, Tom Bee, and the subsequent opportunities that first album led to, will never be forgotten, but wearing a daily reminder of just that one experience alone meant to me at the time, is priceless to me.
Although it is a small thing, I’m grateful and happy that the reminder itself is replaceable, and that my memory of this special memento is no longer tied up in the pocket of a TSA officer in Las Vegas.
Small and simple, indeed. At the same time, isn’t life best a journey of small, simple pleasant experiences that culminate in a happy life?