[00:00] Bobbi: You. If someone is listening and they’re thinking that maybe they have a song inside of them, a dream inside of them, whatever that might be, what would you say to that person?
[00:12] Dave: Don’t ever think that something you create is not worth anything or is trivial or small or don’t put yourself down. If you create something and and you enjoy creating it and you discover that people around you like what you’ve created. In other words, if it’s a song, if they like the way it sounds and whatever, and they’d like to have a copy of it, or if you’ve written a book or an article or something and they’d like to have a copy of that, that’s an indication that that is really worth something. You can do something with that. There are people that will help you. Don’t just keep it to yourself and think, I have to do this all by myself. If you have something, an idea or a creation, don’t just think about it. Take some action and make sure you do something with it or contact people and follow up on it and make sure you’re not letting it just wither away.
[01:16] Bobbi: Welcome to UnYielded: Thriving No Matter What, where we talk about how to make your next chapter in life your best chapter. I’m your host, Bobbi Kahler, and I believe that the best is yet to come. I cannot wait to share this conversation with you. On one hand, it’s a story of following your heart and adapting to challenges and having the courage to ultimately walk away from a great career in order to spend more time with the thing that you love. But on the other hand, it’s so much more than that. And there’s no one better to share that part of the story than my guest himself, Dave Combs. Dave is a songwriter, photographer, entrepreneur, and author with four decades of experience writing over 120 songs and creating 14 albums of soothing, relaxing instrumental piano music. His songwriting began with the now popular standard Rachel’s Song. His soothing, relaxing music has been played millions of times worldwide on radio, satellite, and all Internet streaming media. And it continues to touch the lives of millions of people all over the world today. He is the author of the best selling new book Touched by the Music how the story and music of Rachel’s song can change your life. Dave, welcome to the show.
[02:44] Dave: Thank you, Bobbi. I’m glad to be here.
[02:47] Bobbi: I’m thrilled that you’re here, and it’s been a delight talking for that 20 minutes since we got on the line. So I guess now it’s time to start to start our recorded conversation for the listeners. I thought, why don’t we get started with the story of writing your first song?
[03:05] Dave: Okay. That’s a great place to start because that’s where I started in writing my book. My book, Touched by the Music the story of how that one song led to many, many albums of songs and a whole career of music just from that one. Writing of that one song. This was in 19 and 80, january of 19 and 80. I had just lost my father to a tragic automobile accident over Christmas the previous year. And I believe that it was probably the grieving process that brought a lot of emotions to the surface. And I released my emotions through my music, through sitting down at the piano. For years, I would always sit down at the piano and play music after I got home from work. And this one evening, I came home from work, sat down at the piano, and I just started playing this song. I put my hands on the keyboard and the key of C and started playing. And it sounded good. I liked what it sounded like. And it was really a complete song, a verse and a chorus. And I played it two or three times, and I thought, wow, this is really nice. So I didn’t think much about it. I did not deliberately say, I’m going to sit down and write a song. I just sat down and played this song. It was a gift to me, is the way I look at it, that I just happened to be the first person to ever play. So I kept that in my mind. And then a couple of days later, my wife Linda came home from her job and she says, Dave, what is the name of this song that I’ve had stuck in my head all day long? And she hummed a little bit of it, and I said, well, it doesn’t have a name. And she said, what do you mean it doesn’t have a name? You play it on the piano all the time. I said, well, it’s just something I made up, I guess. So she got all excited and she says, well, have you written it down? I said, well, no, I’ve got it up here, I’m not going to forget it. She says, well, something might happen to you and that song would be gone. Because she said, I probably couldn’t remember it, so you better write it down. I said okay? Yes, ma’am, I will. And so I did. And so I wrote it down on a piece of paper, and I still have that piece of paper right here.
[05:33] Bobbi: Oh, my goodness.
[05:35] Dave: In fact, it just says Copyright David M. Combs, 1981. And it’s got the melody line and the chords. That’s all it is. It’s a very simple song. And that became Rachel’s song. So I wrote it down and didn’t think much. We tried to come up with a name for it. See, on my piece of paper, there’s no title to it.
[05:56] Bobbi: That’s right.
[05:57] Dave: So a couple of years later, some friends of ours had a baby girl, and they asked me and Linda to be her godparents, which we accepted, of course. And at her christening service, linda and I were sitting there with the family and the minister and private service. And up at the front of the church was this beautiful baby grand piano sitting right in the middle of the platform. Well, I punched Linden toward the end of the formal part of the service. I said, what do you think about me playing this song now as part of this service? And she said, yeah, that’s a good idea. So I went up and asked the family and the minister if it’d be okay if I played a song on the piano. And they said, sure. So I go over to the piano and I sit down and I play this tune. And piano was in great tune. It sounded wonderful in this little church. And I played almost all the way through it. And I kept hearing in the background this sniffles and I had cough. But it was a very emotional song that I was playing. I had some tears coming out of my eyes. And so at the end of the song, after I finished playing it, I said, from now on, this song will be called Rachel’s Song in the honor of our Godchild, Rachel. And so that was a perfect name at that point for the song. And it stuck and everybody’s happy. And then three years later, I was in Nashville, Tennessee, working for Western Electric, doing some work on a software system for a factory. And I was there during the week, Monday through Friday. And so Linda says, well, while you’re in Nashville, why don’t you find a studio and get a demo recording made of Rachel’s song? Because we’d never had it recorded or done anything with it, really. And I said, oh, that’s a good idea. So one evening I was driving around Nashville, Tennessee, trying to find a studio and I went over into the part of town that they call Music Square. There’s a bunch of blocks that’s just nothing in there but music. There’s the Country Music Hall of Fame and ASCAP and BMI and all kinds of studios and everything. I was I drove down this one little narrow back street called Roy Acuff Place. And at the end of the street was this big building that had a water wheel on the street corner just as a symbol, I guess it was a real water wheel. They’d moved from a mill somewhere and the sign on the side of the building said The Music Mill. Well, that’s clever. So I pulled in the parking lot and sure enough, there it was, a studio. And through the glass door I could see a man sitting at the desk. And I knocked on the door and he came and invited me in. He said, I’m George Clinton. Can I help you? Now, it’s a different George Clinton than other people remember from. And so we went in and I said, Well, George, I’m looking for a studio to record a demo of a song I’ve written called Rachel’s Song. And he said, well, you’re in a studio here. I said, Well, I’ve never been in one. He said, Let me give you a said, there’s nobody happens to be nobody recording right now, so there’s nobody in their studio rooms. Let’s go. So we went over into Studio A, the big studio, and it was a huge room. You could put an orchestra in that room, literally. And they had a big nine foot grand piano over in the corner and just impressive. And so he said, well, let’s go into where all the brains of the operation are. So we go in into the control room. He opens this great big thick, about six inch thick door. That’s soundproof, of course. And he go into this room and here’s this big console that has, I think it had 32 channels, tracks, so it’s a big six or seven foot long console. Impressive. And then around the room was all these tape recorders and big speakers over the big glass window in front of the console where he can see out into where all the music is being made. And it’s where the engineer does all his magic. I thought, wow, how much does a room like this cost? And he says, well, it’s $125 an hour plus engineer. Now, this was 19 and 86, so 125. And 1986 is probably $400 an hour in today’s dollars.
[10:45] Bobbi: That’s right.
[10:45] Dave: That was a lot of money. A lot more money than I had available to rent a studio. He says, don’t worry. He said, the fellow who owns this studio owns a small studio across the street. It’s in a house that used to be a little rent house. They’ve converted it to a studio and it’s $15 an hour plus engineer. I said, okay, well, I can afford that.
[11:08] Bobbi: That’s pretty good.
[11:09] Dave: Yeah, that’s pretty good. I said, okay, now what I need is somebody to play my music. I need a musician that can play my song on a recording for me. And he said, Well, I think I know just the person for you. His name is Gary Prim. He and I go to church together. We’ve done recording stuff for many years and he’s a wonderful piano player. He said, let’s go back to my desk and I’ll look up his phone number for you. So he did, wrote it down on a piece of paper and gave it to me. So I thanked him and I went hustled back to my rental car and got back sorry. That’s okay. I got in my car and headed back to the hotel so I could call Gary. Now, this is 1986. I didn’t have cell phone, hadn’t been invented yet, so I had to get a landline in my hotel room. So I called Gary. When I got there, I called Gary’s number and got his answering machine and left a message. And about 30 minutes phone rings. And it’s Gary. He says it’s Gary Pram. Can I help you? I said, Well, I’ve got a recommendation by George Clinton that says you are a good piano player and would do a good job for a demo recording of a song I’ve written. He said, well, I’ll be glad to. And I said, well, what do I need to do? He said, well, just send me a cassette tape or recording of you playing it. So I’ll kind of know what it sounds like and then send me a lead sheet. And I said, what’s a lead sheet?
[12:42] Bobbi: So glad you said that, because I was thinking, what’s a lead sheet?
[12:45] Dave: Well, he said, oh, it’s just the melody written down in music line and the chords that go with it. I said, oh, well, I’ve got that. I just didn’t know to call it a lead sheet. Turns out it’s this piece of paper that I wrote the song down on. And when Linda said, Better write it down. So I said, okay. So I got back home, got what he needed, mailed it to him, and two weeks later on I think it was September 22, 1986, we met Gary Prem and I met in this tiny little studio in Nashville. And he brought his synthesizer with him and set it up. And the studio had a baby grand Yamaha piano, which I later learned was the first Yamaha piano ever shipped to Nashville from Japan. So it has some history. I’d love to know who all famous musicians played on that piano, but I’m sure there are plenty of them. But anyway, that was the little piano that Gary was going to record Rachel’s song on. So the engineer and I are in the control room and Gary’s over at the piano warming up a little bit, and he finally says, I’m ready. So we start the tape recorder in the studio. They have a little talk button where you can talk to the musicians through the speakers. So he pushes the button, says, we’re rolling. So Gary starts playing Rachel’s song, and then he gets about halfway through it and he says, Stop. Hits the keyboard and says, I can do better than that. Let’s rewind it. And let’s do that again. So he rewound the tape, start all over. This time Gary played the song perfectly. He played the melody in the chorus three times. He played it in the key of C twice, and then he modulated up to the key of D flat up a half a step for the last time through. And so when you hear the recording, you’ll know that point when you get to that point, yeah. And so I thought, wow, this really sounds so good. And then Gary comes into the studio and we play it back, and that sounds pretty good, but I don’t want to add some things to it. So he sets his synthesizer up and he said, I want to add some strings, some low strings and some high strings and maybe a few horns in a few places. I want to do the piano part again on an electric piano sound on the keyboard. I said, oh, okay.
[15:13] Bobbi: How did you feel about all that?
[15:15] Dave: Well, I was just in awe of what I was hearing, and it was getting better and better all the time, so I was amazed, actually. And so I’m sure I probably didn’t say anything except just probably sitting there with my mouth open. First thing he does is plays the along. He puts his headset on, of course, and plays along with the first acoustic piano. And he’s playing the electric piano on the synthesizer, and he’s playing along with himself with an electric piano sound. And he nailed every note that he had played on the piano. When you hear it, you can’t tell that there’s two instruments. It just has a very rich sound to it. He is so skilled that he can play the same thing on piano and synthesizer and just track it perfectly.
[16:04] Bobbi: That’s amazing.
[16:05] Dave: That is amazing. And when you hear it, you’ll hear when the electric piano comes in, it’s like in the very first part of the first chorus, you’ll hear it. But then he said, all right, let’s put some low strings to give it some depth and bottom to it. So he’s got a string sound on the synthesizer, play the two more tracks for stereo of the synthesizer playing the string sounds and the high strings. He did two more tracks. And then right in the middle of the song, when he builds it up to trans to go up a half step, he adds some horns in there to kind of help it build up to the sound. And so he did that. And then I believe that was all we had, two strings, horns and electric piano, and real piano, five instruments. So we come in and then the engineer kind of sets all the levels so that it sounds good altogether. And Gary listens to it and I listen to it. Yeah. He said, I think that’s all it needs, that’s plenty enough. I said okay. Great. So he said, well, that’s all I need to do. The rest of it’s up to the engineer and you. So I wrote him a check for the agreed upon fee for the demo recording, and he got his synthesizer and left. And I had no idea whether I’d ever see that young man again or not, but turns out I saw him a lot. We did 170 some recordings in the studio over the next 15 years. 100 and 7170. I wrote 120 new songs, and then the other 50 or so were covers of favorite hymns and that kind of thing. Yeah, I love that, but he and I, he’s like a brother to me. I love Gary and Julie, his wife and his two kids, and we communicate very frequently and I can’t wait to get back to Nashville. I haven’t been there in a while to see him and his family. It’s just a wonderful relationship. But the song that we came out with that night when the engineer finished mixing it down and he made me some cassette taped recordings that I could take home with me and a master tape that was the master recording. And on the way back to my hotel, I popped that cassette tape in my player in my car. You can imagine, I wanted to hear it again. So I played it and I turned it up and play it real loud. And I was running around on the interstate around Nashville, try to get back to my hotel near the airport and it would finish the song. I’d rewind it and play it again. Rewind it and play it again. I did that I don’t have many times. And after a while I realized I had missed my exit to the airport. I was in somewhere around north Nashville. In fact, I think it’s a loop around town. So I had completely circled Nashville at least once because I said, I’ve seen that billboard before.
[19:08] Bobbi: But that must have been such a feeling, though, to hear that song.
[19:13] Dave: It was surreal. It was like, I can’t believe this is my song. I wrote the song, but I had no idea the potential of what it could sound like when it was played by a professional musician with the skill and talent like Gary Prem. It blew me away. I just said, well, in the words I said, and I think this is probably other people with AHA moments probably said the same thing. I said, this is it. This is it. I didn’t know what it was, but I could tell that this song and that recording was going to be the beginning of something really spectacular in my life. Yeah, and it certainly was, because every time I played that song for anybody, they were just moved to tears. And first time it got played on the radio, the radio station manager called me after it was played and said, Dave, you won’t believe this. He said, I’ve been in radio for 22 plus years. And he said, I’ve never had this happen. He says, when my friend Bob McCon played it on the radio that Saturday morning, he said he said, we have 15 phone lines here at the station. They all lit up. Every line was busy with somebody wanting to say, what’s that name of that song that you just played? Tell me more about this Rachel song and tell me more about this Combs guy in Winston Salem. So it caused a really, I guess in today’s terms, it kind of went viral on the race because didn’t you.
[20:42] Bobbi: Say you’ve had over like you’ve received more than, what, 50,000 notes and letters from people?
[20:48] Dave: Yes, that happened not too long after that because I got busy after that first radio hour play. And I got it played on every easy listening station in the United States. It was a lot of work and a lot of phone calls and a lot of sending demos out to people. But I got it played on every easy listening station in the country. And in fact, it became the number one easy listening instrumental in the country of Australia for two years.
[21:18] Bobbi: Oh, my God. Now, wait a minute. Now, before, because you were not in the music industry no, you wrote this song and then now, how did you because I remember this part of your story and you just said you went you went through a lot of work or to a lot of work to get this played. How did you go about that getting it played?
[21:40] Dave: Well, back then, we didn’t have the benefit of the Internet. It hadn’t been invented yet. We couldn’t Google things. Everything was hard copy usually and phone books and that kind of I had there was a publication called Radio on Records that had a listing of all the radio stations in the entire United States, which I ordered that book. I knew all the stations and their phone numbers and who the program directors were and that kind of thing. So I started calling and they had it by genre. Their easy listening was the category of the station that I knew that mine needed to be on. So I started calling places like Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, st. Louis, Los Angeles. All those the big cities. Everybody had an easy listening station, san Francisco, and they were all very receptive. They’d say, well, send me a copy of the songs. And I ended up having a 45 single made. Most people don’t know what they know what vinyl records are. But my first vinyl record was this thing.
[22:47] Bobbi: I remember those I had a lot.
[22:49] Dave: Of those little 45 45 with a big hole in the middle.
[22:52] Bobbi: That’s right.
[22:53] Dave: Well, this one is Rachel’s song. So I got 45 singles pressed of that in Nashville and that’s what I would send out to the radio stations for them to program. And it was phone calls and follow ups and everybody that played it took it. I mean, there was nobody that took my song and said, no, we don’t want to play that. They all took them. My station here in Greensboro, they played it every hour. I mean, every hour at some time. They would play a lot of phone.
[23:31] Bobbi: Part of I remember reading on, I think it was your website, something about you had to develop what your own market and it was Play and Sell or something. Is that what that is?
[23:41] Dave: Yes.
[23:42] Bobbi: Is that different?
[23:43] Dave: Well, that was different. The Play and Sell came about because when I started getting all this our play around the country, I started getting fan mail and people would write to me and say, how much they enjoyed the song, what it meant to them, and tell me their stories about Rachel’s Song. And so all those stories kept coming in, and I thought, well, we’ve got to find a way. And they wanted a copy of the song. And all I had was this 45 single of the album. I didn’t really have anything to sell. So in 1988, Gary Prem and I went back in the studio, and by that time, I had written some more songs. So we went back in the studio and recorded the songs that are now on the album, rachel’s Song, the CD, which now it’s a CD. Back then, it was a cassette tape of Rachel’s Song and the CD of and so then I had a product that I could sell, and all these people were writing and wanted the copy of it. And I knew that it was something that people really enjoyed and were really touched by it. And I felt really strongly that I needed to find a way to get it to the public, to the masses, to people that I didn’t even know and had never met. Some mass marketing needed to take place. Well, I went to the music stores that sold music back then. We had a record bar. I forget what the names of all the record stores were. They’re not even in business anymore.
[25:22] Bobbi: I used to go to them, but I can’t remember.
[25:26] Dave: But anyhow, I went to them thinking that they would have heard Rachel’s Song on the radio and would be eager to take my music. Well, was I ever in for a shock. They never heard of me. Easy listening music wasn’t their hot topic at the moment. They wanted country or rock and roll or pop or something else. But my easy listening instrumental was not top of their priority, so I didn’t get anywhere, and that was very disappointing. I mean, some of them were even actually pretty rude to me. So I thought, there’s got to be a better way. Well, here I am. I’m still working with Western Electric at the time, and actually it had become At T by this point. And so I’m working at at T and I’m working in Bethesda, Maryland. That’s where my office was, and a lady’s office right next to mine. She loved Rachel’s song. Her name was Leslie, and she said, I’ve got a friend that owns a gift shop that I would love to give one of your CDs to, to have her play in her oh, sure. So I gave her one of my Rachel Song CDs, didn’t think much about it. And a couple of days later, I get a phone call from this lady named Jane. She says hi. This is Jane. I own this gift shop called America, and I got a problem. Leslie’s gave me your CD of Rachel’s Song, and every time it plays in my shop, everybody in the store comes over to the counter and says, what is that you’re playing? I want a copy of that to take home with me. And she said, can you sell me some CDs and cassette tapes of Rachel’s Song? Well, sure. So I said, I’ll bring you some. This was we were living near Potomac, Maryland, and the shop was down in Old Town, Alexandria, and we like to go to Old Town to eat supper at night sometimes. Anyway, so good excuse to go to Alexandria.
[27:28] Bobbi: Why not?
[27:29] Dave: We boxed up some CDs and cassette tapes of Rachel’s Song and headed to Alexandria that night, met Jane and gave her the music, and, well, we’ll see what happens here, see how this goes. Sounds like a possibility. Well, two or three days later, phone rings again. Jane says, well, we got to do this again. I’ve run out this time. How about double the order and can you bring them to me tonight? Yep. So back we go down to Alexandria with a big box of cassette tapes and CDs. And over the next year, Jane, in her little shop in Alexandria on King Street, sold over a thousand copies of Rachel’s Song. I mean, it was amazing how much music she sold.
[28:16] Bobbi: She’s not a music shop.
[28:18] Dave: No, it’s a Americana. She sold anything red, white and blue. It was called America is the name of the shop. I think it still exists in some shops in Atlanta. And so she was the first gift shop that played and sold my music. And because she had a good sounding system in her store, that the music sounded good, and that turned out to be one of the ingredients of success for this music. And so Linda and I thought, well, maybe there’s some other shops like hers that would sell this music, play and sell it as well. And I thought, well, let’s do a little modeling. I’m a mathematician, I’m a business person. I have my MBA from forest. And so I built me a spreadsheet. And on that spreadsheet was the first column was the America gift shop numbers, how many CDs and cassette tapes that she had sold, how much I sold them to her for, and how much it cost me to make them. And then you do the arithmetic and come out with a gross profit for that shop. And I thought, well, she’s done really well. That’s a pretty good number. And so I said, okay, what if we had one gift shop like hers in every state? Surely there’s at least one in all 50 states around the country. It’s a big country. So I made another column and had it column one times 50. Well, bottom line, number of the gross profit on that was looking good. I said, okay, well, let’s not get greedy. Let’s say there’s only five in every state, just five gift shops all I need. So, third column is 250 times column one. The bottom line is Linda. Come here. Look at this number. You’re not going to believe this. If we have 250 shops like America, that’s twice what I’m making at at and T. I could quit my job and do my music. And she says, wow, okay. I said, well, I think I know what I got to do. I got to find these other 249 gift shops is what I got to do. So we struck out on every weekend we would go to these tourist towns around Maryland and Aquaquan and Ellicott City and all these places. And when we came back to North Carolina, we would go to Blowing Rock or into Tennessee to Gatlinburg, those kind of towns where it’s tourist towns and we’d walk the streets. I’d pop my head in a gift shop and listen. And if I heard music playing, I’d go on in and find the owner and talk to them, say, would you consider playing my music as well and selling it in your shop? And I always carried some with me in a little paper bag, gave them to them. So I was like Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees all over the country. Well, I’d get home, my answering machine at home would have several phone calls on it. This is so and so that you met today and I would like to start carrying your music. Our customers love Rachel’s song. Okay. So that’s how I started building my list of gift shops that I would sell at wholesale. And they’d play it and sell it at retail. And I grew that from that first gift shop. Eventually over the next few years, I grew it to over 1000 gift shops over the whole country. And it became the play and sell market. And as with anything successful, it gets discovered by the big guys, so to speak. So everybody else nowadays if you go in any gift shop or card shop or anything, they more than likely already go to what’s, the starbucks. Starbucks. Yeah, Starbucks. Go in there. They have their CDs there now. They got Smart and they produced their own. They didn’t buy something like mine. They went out and hired somebody and under the so they that’s right. So but anyway, that became I was selling more music of my music than the big record stores were selling of the big hits.
[32:31] Bobbi: Yeah. That’s amazing, Dave.
[32:34] Dave: So that’s how that came about. It was just a lot of work. A lot of work.
[32:40] Bobbi: It’s a lot of work. What I love about that part of the story though, is that so often we hit a brick wall, like we’re trying to pursue our dream or we’re trying to make something happen. We hit a brick wall and it’s like, well, that’s not working. And we stop there. And I love that there was a little bit of a redirect and then you really turned that into something big. But I think that this might be related to something I think I saw this on your website. What was it? It was something like god speaks to us not through claps of thunder, but through other people. Is that kind of what you.
[33:22] Dave: Know? And I call these kind of incidences, like the recommendation from my coworker Leslie, those are God winks. God is basically directing the bigger picture of my life, I think, and he’s putting things in my path that are going to work and it’s my job to recognize them and take some action about are. That’s how I look at it.
[33:47] Bobbi: Yeah. I love and it seems like maybe is it Gary, the pianist?
[33:52] Dave: Gary Prim?
[33:53] Bobbi: Yeah. Or the musician? It seems like that could be another one. But how do you recognize a godlink?
[34:02] Dave: Usually it’s after the know when you look back and say, wow, now that could not have been an accident. If you run into somebody in a store or something, I know everybody that has experienced this where something happens. You meet somebody, something happens, or you a good one. Like a lot of people I can’t even experience. This is where you were going to leave to go someplace, and suddenly you said, whoop, I forgot to go get something or other. And you go back in the house and you get something. And so you’re delayed about five minutes, and later you learn that five minutes on your trip there, there was a bad car accident or something. If you hadn’t gone back in the house and done your delay, that could have been you in that car wreck and gotten killed. So there’s those kind of little connections that you make that you that’s that’s not an the. This guy named Squire Rushnell wrote a book called When God Winks. I recommend it to anybody. It’s really about these non coincidences in your life that happen.
[35:14] Bobbi: Love that.
[35:16] Dave: Yeah. So in my book, I describe a lot of god winks that happened to me along the way.
[35:21] Bobbi: Nice. I love that. I love that. So, okay, here’s a question. I’ve been wanting to think I’ve been wanting to so now that I’ve thought it, I’ll ask, why do you think the song, Rachel’s song, why do you think that touches so many people?
[35:41] Dave: I have asked myself that question many times, and I would love to know the real answer to it because it touches people in different ways. It depends on where they are at the time. I’ve had people that are going through a really tough time in their life, whether it’s recovering from alcoholism, that kind of thing that is really tough, or a death of a loved one or a marriage or all kinds of events that are highly emotional and emotionally charged events. Rachel’s song seems to really go into that event and reach your soul deep down in your soul and helps if you need soothing, it helps soothe the rough edges. If you need connection with maybe you need a good cry I’ve had people wrote to me and said they were in a gift shop up in the mountains and having a good time, and this song comes on the speaker system in the gift shop. And they said that I stood there in the aisle and just bawled my eyes out and said I did not know why, it’s just something about the music touched them, triggered something in their soul that they needed to release. And so they later would write to me and tell these stories to me. And that’s some of those 50,000 letters that I’ve got from people over the years that have written to me from hearing it on the radio or buying it at these play and sell gift shops all over the country. And I literally have a table in my basement here that is covered with boxes full of these letters by year, all the way from 19 and 86 up until actually recently. So you’re right. The question of why is Rachel’s song, why does it have that special connection, that special appeal? And I suppose that it could be that that song was an anointed song given to me by the big guy in the sky here, by God himself. And it was meant to bless people’s lives. And it does that. I still enjoy it. It was played in a gift shop in the Union Station in Washington DC. The train station. There was a gift shop called the Brass Gallery was the name of it. They sold everything, williamsburg, high quality brass items, and they had a wonderful sound system. And they played Rachel’s song. Because at that time, that’s only song I had, only album I had was Rachel’s Song. They played it from ten in the morning when they opened up, till ten at night when they closed it over and over on repeat in the store. And the owner of the shop told me, she said, I know we’ve listened to that Rachel song thousands and thousands of times, but I want you to know that not once have any of our staff complained about the music. So it doesn’t wear on you. You still hear something, each something. There is something special about that. I’ve put it up on my website so that people can listen to it free. When they go to Combsmusic.com, right in the middle, it says Play Rachel’s song. And when you play Rachel’s song, what you will hear is that original demo recording that I made in September 22 or August 22, 1986, with Gary Prim. And I think you’ll be touched by it and it’s special.
[39:27] Bobbi: Yeah, it reminds me of I don’t know, this is a weird connection, probably, but when we lived in Evergreen, Colorado, we did the same exact walk every day, because out of our house there was basically one walk, but we never got tired of it in seven years. We loved that walk, because some days you’d see deer, some days you’d see elk. Some days you’d just know the clouds know. You’d see Mount Evans in the distance every day. It was a little bit different. And I always thought, is it a little bit different because of where I am each day? And that’s what it seems like with music, can have that same kind of effect. I wanted to shift a little bit because your book touched by the Music, and I think the subtitle is how the story and music of Rachel Song can change your life.
[40:14] Dave: Right.
[40:15] Bobbi: Tell me a little bit about how can it change your life? Tell me about that part first.
[40:20] Dave: Well, that came about by all of these not all, many of these letters that I received from my fans over the years telling me how Rachel’s song had changed their life. I had a letter from a young man that was in an iron lung. We don’t hardly see these anymore, but back when they had polio and people were put in an iron lung to help them breathe, and he said, Your music brought me back to life three times. Three times. So that’s pretty impactful.
[41:02] Bobbi: Yeah.
[41:02] Dave: And I’ve had people who wrote to me and said that they proposed using my playing my music in the background. My music has been played when the bride was walking down the aisle or the mother’s walking in in a wedding. And it’s played constantly in the bedroom of young children because it’s very soothing and they kind of go to sleep really easily with listening to Rachel’s song.
[41:33] Bobbi: Wow.
[41:35] Dave: A young lady wrote to me and said that she had nearly drowned out in the ocean when she and her family were at the beach. She got caught in a riptide and she said her brother, out of pure adrenaline, swam out and got her and saved her life.
[41:52] Bobbi: Amazing.
[41:53] Dave: She said her name is Rachel and she said her parents gave her a copy of this song in memory of her life being saved. And so she just wanted to write me and tell me the story of how much that song, every time she plays it now, she is thankful for her family and for being alive.
[42:14] Bobbi: Yeah. That’s beautiful.
[42:16] Dave: So those are the kind of things that made the subtitle of the book fairly easy to come up with. It’s not only touched my life, obviously, from being able to quit my job in 1992 and do nothing but my music ever since, and to all these stories that I’ve gotten over the years of people’s lives touched.
[42:38] Bobbi: Yeah. So I have to ask you this. When you quit because you had a good job, what was that like, saying, I’m going to walk away from a good full time job? Was it hard?
[42:50] Dave: Well, yes, it was hard, because I had been raised to think that if you get a good job with a good corporation, I remember my father telling me, you stick with it you stay with that company and stay long enough to get you a good retirement and that kind of thing. So leaving a good paying job before I was actually eligible for retirement and I wasn’t old enough and I didn’t have enough years service, I was short by about three years, and it was difficult. But during that last year of my work for At T, we were going through a downturn in the industry, and we were having to cut back on expenses and everything, and my music business was taking off. I had already hired a full time employee and had a thriving business, and it was growing really almost exponentially. And so I had was able to sit down with my boss at the time and say, okay, Bill, I know you need to save some money on your expenses. Why don’t we do this? I will take Mondays and Fridays off without pay, so you just mark it down as a paid unpaid absence. On Mondays and Fridays, I will keep my phone with me. If somebody calls, they’ll never know I’m not working. I’ll answer phone calls and stuff. But I would like to take Mondays and Fridays off so I can work my music business. And I’ll work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So I saved basically to 40% of my salary, was a savings then on his expense budget, and he thought that was a great idea. So we did that for several months. And then right before Christmas, in 19 and 91, I met with him at Greensboro at a restaurant. And I said, Bill, things are going really well with my music business, and I need to ask you for the other three days off.
[45:12] Bobbi: And what did Bill say?
[45:16] Dave: I wasn’t hiding anything from anybody. He was very aware of the success of my business. He said, Well, Dave, I wish I could do the same, but I wish you well. But it was a very congenial parting. So I basically resigned my job in February. My last day of work was February of 1992.
[45:36] Bobbi: Wow.
[45:37] Dave: And I haven’t looked back. I have fond memories of 22 and a half years with a large corporation of at and T and Western Electric. Lots of friends, lots of coworkers and colleagues that were just wonderful. But nothing compares to working for yourself and being able to be an entrepreneur. And if you want to try something, you don’t have to ask anybody. You just go do it. And if it doesn’t work, so what? You go try something else, but if it works, you just do more of it?
[46:07] Bobbi: Yeah. I love that. Okay, so I have a final question for you, but before I get to the final question, I want to give you time to tell people where they can find out more about you and your book and your music. And then I’ll have my final question.
[46:24] Dave: Thank you. And I’ve made it very easy for people to find out about me and my music on my website. It’s simply combsmusic, combs music and a very simple landing page. It’s got the picture of my book on the left side and a picture of my CD of Rachel’s song on the other side of the page and a Play Rachel Song link in the middle and underneath the book. And the CDs are the link that says Buy from Amazon.com. And if you click on that link, it’ll take you right to the Amazon page for the book or the CD. And you can check out all of my music on Amazon.com and I supply them with CDs so they’re always available and copies of my book. And also have piano music books for those that play the piano. A lot of people like myself, when a popular song would come out and you’d like the theme from Love Story, every piano player in the world wanted to play that song. So they came out with sheet music. So I have sheet music books for all of my albums. And you can buy the book itself on Amazon.com or you can go on sheet Music Plus and download it 499 a song or 1499 for the whole book. Download it instantly and begin printing and play it. So it’s available anywhere?
[47:45] Bobbi: Yeah. That’s wonderful. Remind me, how many albums do you have now?
[47:51] Dave: I have total of 15 albums. My 15th one is really kind of a collection album of one song from each of the other 14. So really original. I have 14 really albums of music.
[48:03] Bobbi: Nice. And I’ll put all those in the show notes too for everyone.
[48:06] Dave: Okay.
[48:08] Bobbi: So here’s the final question. If someone is listening and they’re thinking that maybe they have a song inside of them, a dream inside of them, whatever that might be, what would you say to that person?
[48:21] Dave: I get that question a lot and I’m happy to answer it in this way. Don’t ever think that something you create is not worth anything or is trivial or small or don’t put yourself down. So if you’re a singer or a songwriter or lyricist or whatever, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s music or what. If you create something and you enjoy creating it, and you discover that people around you like what you’ve created. In other words, if it’s a song, if they like the way it sounds and whatever, and they’d like to have a copy of it, or if you’ve written a book or an article or something and they’d like to have a copy of that, that’s an indication that that is really worth something. It can be monetized in today’s terms. You can do something with that. So my suggestion is if you’re a musician writing a song and you have a song in your head, if you’re not a musician yourself, find one. There are lots of people that will assist you with taking that song and recording an arrangement of it. Or just write it down for you or whatever, but there are people that will help you. Don’t just keep it to yourself and think, I have to do this all by myself. There are lots of people with lots of talents that I don’t have, for example, that I teamed up. Like, I’m a songwriter and I play the piano pretty well, but not like Gary Prem plays the piano professional in Nashville, Tennessee. So team up with somebody like a Gary or whatever and do something with your creation. And I like Jack Canfield’s 13th principle of his book of the success principles. This is my friend Jack Canfield’s big book on success principles. But his 13th principle that is my main principle take action. If you have something, an idea or a creation, don’t just think about it. Take some action and make sure you do something with it. Or contact people and follow up on it and make sure you’re not letting it just wither away. Do something with it.
[50:46] Bobbi: Yeah, I love that. There’s so much inspiration and wisdom in those words. I love that. So thank you so much for sharing and thank you so much for sharing your time and being here with us and sharing your story.
[50:57] Dave: You’re quite welcome. It’s been my pleasure.
[50:59] Bobbi: I hope that you love Dave’s story as much as I do. To me, it’s a beautiful story of pouring your heart into what gives you energy and life and then adapting and growing with it. And I absolutely love his answer to my final question. I think that metaphorically, we all have some version of a song inside of us and we don’t have to go it alone or have all the answers, but instead, maybe we are simply the steward and the champion for it. I hope that this conversation will inspire you to pursue your song and your gift. Thank you so much for being here. Have a great week and keep writing.