I lived in Point Richmond, California on and off for about five years. Some apartments were converted hallways, some were the leftover spaces of a remodel. One apartment was actually an apartment on the top of a hill, at the end of a cul de sac. I didn’t have a view, but if I walked outside and crossed the street, there was a vacant lot, and I had the whole bay spread before me. I would often take my morning coffee there, sitting in the grass and slight breeze.
I had noticed another guy, a neighbor, that periodically walked around the area. He had a bar across his shoulder with two super 8mm film cameras mounted side by side. It looked odd and warranted a question.
Finally, after a few weeks I asked him two questions. 1) what are you doing, and 2) what do you do that allows you to be free most mornings. I had assumed that he had a swing job similar to mine.
His response was that he was trying to master 3D movie making, and he didn’t have a job, he just got a monthly royalty check.
Completely disinterested in his passion, I pressed on to ask “a check? For what reason?” Very rude of me, but I was young.
He said that he wrote a song.
I pondered this quickly. Could I write a song to allow for more free time? He said song, singular. That couldn’t be hard. So I asked the name of his song and did he make a record.
He said he didn’t sing it, he just wrote it. Then he said he really didn’t even write the tune, he just wrote the lyrics. Damn, I could do that!
Apparently he made enough money to live comfortably, buy a car, rent a nice apartment, and walk around with movie cameras. Okay, what wonderful song was this?
He replied, “Puff, the Magic Dragon”!
He became a multi-millionaire, not because of Puff, but Puff allowed him to become the world’s foremost expert on 3D, and his technology is currently in 25,000 theaters world wide.
I focused on the songwriting, the easy one hit wonder. I was young and… stupid.