As you know, almost all of the songs we write tell stories. We want to share those stories with you. We’ll post the story behind the story for each song on 13 here for you to read. The plan is to feature one song each week for the next 13 weeks.
Here is the story behind Save Your Life as related by Allen Kitselman.
The song “Save Your Life”
“Save Your Life” was written at the end of the last century. It was a gift to my nephew, Jamie, as he stared life in the face at 18. Like most people stepping out of that comfortable nest as they graduate from high school, Jamie was having a tough time of it, asking himself big questions: What do I do with my life? Who am I? Why am I here?
Jamie is a sensitive, deep thinking guy and the whole family could tell he was troubled and struggling. That moment when the big questions in life occur to you was not easy for me either. I could relate. When I was 18, I wanted to go to music school. The powers that be said…you’ve got to be kidding. My next choice was Architecture. The high school guidance counselor told me that was definitely not in the cards based on that “D” I managed to procure in geometry. After that I went college alright…Business School. I now refer to that period exclusively as the Missing Years. I seem to remember quite a mess.
I wrote “Save Your Life” as a life preserver for Jamie. It’s about purpose, love, and the most important thing in life—not to be told what you are, but to give yourself time to find out for yourself.
When Jamie graduated from high school, we traveled down to North Carolina for the celebration, and I played the song for him on my sister’s screen porch. It has existed as a special connection between us ever since.
Jamie was destined for big things. He went on to Cornell for a graduate degree after undergrad at Appalachian State and has spent over a decade in Haiti making the world a better place. Though we all intend to do so at one time or another, few of us really get around to doing it.
In Haiti, Jamie ran a food program and coordinated the building of a factory to make a special food out of locally grown peanuts. The work aims to create an agricultural sustainable loop for local farmers and a non-perishable, nutritious food source for hungry people, especially very young children. Turns out that Jamie not only saved his own life, but perhaps the lives of thousands of others.
Last week I posted a photograph of Jamie giving a tour of the factory in Haiti to Bill Clinton. This summer Jamie gets married. I am very proud of him and happy that he discovered his light on in the window.