When Ron Cornelius went with Johnny Cash for his Live at San Quentin show, it wasn’t his first time inside. His experience perfectly illustrates the power of our choices to shape our paths.

Live at San Quentin vs Live at San Quentin

English is a funny language, a fact Ron Cornelius learned well while penning his recent book, The Guitar Behind Dylan and Cohen.

For instance, the word live. When you read it just now, did you read it as “to perform live at San Quentin” (long “i” sound) or “to move in and live at San Quentin” (short “i” sound)? Regardless of how you first read it, you subconsciously made a choice to read it that way.

Not a big deal, really, how you choose to initially read a word. It is a big deal, however, when it comes to experiencing that word. And, it turns out, that was exactly the choice Ron Cornelius had to make.

A Father’s Wisdom

As Ron’s career was heating up during his late teens and early twenties, his dad had some words of wisdom for him:

” Be careful out there. Fallin’ in with the wrong crowd or you’ll be walking around in the middle of the Bay on Alcatraz or locked up in San Quentin for who knows how long.”

Ron and his neighborhood friends grew up rough. The easy money wasn’t found playing gigs or working hard on developing a musical career.  Ron had to make decisions: follow his friends or follow his dreams. Which path would he choose.

Ron Cornelius Richmond California

As it turns out, his dad’s words were prophetic. Many of his Richmond friends wound up in San Quentin, a fact few in the music industry knew.

When he wasn’t on tour or working on a project, Ron would find time to go visit and offer them a connection to the outside world. To him, they were just his friends from the neighborhood and he didn’t think too much about it.

Then came the opportunity to accompany Johnny Cash inside San Quentin as part of his production team. More than most on the team, Ron understood the dangers they faced when walking inside. Also, more than most, Ron understood how like them the prisoners were. These were guys just like him; they just made different choices.

The Better Choice

Of one thing, though, Ron was certain: it was better to help produce Live at San Quentin than live at San Quentin. Though he didn’t have it with him that day, he sure was grateful for the gift of his Gretsch Country Gentleman Guitar, the wisdom of his father, and his choice to follow his dreams rather than his friends.

Live, live. How do you pronounce the word? How will it be used to tell the story of your life? The choice is up to you.

Autographed copies of Ron Cornelius’ new book, The Guitar Behind Dylan and Cohen, can be found exclusively on the Gateway Entertainment website. Purchase yours today to read more stories from the road.