We first went to Barcelona in our early 20s. Traveling Europe together on Eurail passes, Hostels and very little money, we intended to experience the cultures from an ordinary perspective and to see every architectural treasure we could get our eyes on. The ultimate jewels in that treasure chest lay in Catalonia where the famous architect Antoní Gaudí lived and died with his projects. That was the first exposure to his magical world, and certainly not the last, as we returned many times in the coming decades. We just couldn’t get enough!
So, when the time came for Em to recapture the magic of his youth, transform his life and dig deeper into the meaning of his life—of course, Barcelona was the obvious destination. The pilgrimage took him throughout the “Gaudí kingdom,” returning to every architectural clue he left for those seeking inspiration and guidance into the spirit world. Broken china, in the song, is a reference to the incredible mosaics that danced across most Gaudí creations, made of broken china discarded from the Catalan studios and factories—the perfect metaphor for taking the pieces and parts of a life and reconfiguring them into beautiful designs for the future. He also included soaring towers and spires that would lift your spirits and transport you high above into the world of your dreams. That’s exactly where he needed to go—and he absolutely did!
At that same time, Em was also reframing his identity to both integrate his past with a future that better reflected who he wanted to become. He was transitioning from “Dale” (his business persona) to “Emerson” (his creative persona and middle name). That reference is in the lyrics “I’m taking you there with me, I’m holding you close to me, together we will be free.” The two of them returned in one piece, better friends than ever.
As life meanders on through the years, interests naturally shift and dreams change. An emptiness can slowly develop where there once was heartfelt engagement. For him, he longed for integration and not separation which is a little trickier to accomplish, requiring risk, commitment and patience. As the song says: “my soul was so empty, it was nothing but skin and bone”— a stark image, but also a blank slate. To this day, Just the mere mention of Barcelona takes him back to that magical soulful experience that changed his life forever—and for better!