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Flickering Candle

Max Renshaw - "Prepare A Place"

The path to music's origin can sometimes be long, very personal and healing. Such is the case for Max Renshaw with his song “Prepare A Place”.

Max's oldest son, Austin, went missing in 2003, and is believed to have been killed, though the crime remains unsolved, according to Max.

“We know who the perpetrators are but lack the evidence to prosecute,” Max said. “The principals stated to the police that Austin “Went off on them about God” then took off. No doubt Austin was on fire for the Lord and most likely did as they said. Though it is believed that he was followed, then killed as he'd heard too much and saw too much of drugs and other crimes these people were involved in.”

Max kept the case active for five years before the state deemed it a cold case and put no more resources into it.

“During this trying time, the last thing on my mind was songwriting,” he said. “After the case went cold, I rededicated myself to my wife, three other kids, grandson and to God to get a handle on my life.”

Five years after his son's disappearance in 2003, Max played a gig in Cumberland, Washington at the City Hall Saloon.

“A young gal came up to the stage and requested a song I'd written years before, that was inspired by my grandmothers' lives, called “Take Me”,” Max said. “I played it. On break, I thanked her and her mom for requesting the song.”

The song “Take Me” had made a large impact on the woman, he said.

“She then told me her dad had passed away six months prior of a brain aneurism,” he said. “She said he knew he was going to die and helped make plans for his own funeral. He'd heard me play the song six years earlier at a party and wanted it played for his services.”

Unfortunately, they only knew Max's first name and found no way to get in touch with him in time.

Max realized that if a dying man heard his song six years before – only once - and wanted it played for his memorial services, then that would have been a huge honor, he said.

“I decided to start writing again. In a sad twist, that young lady who inspired me to write again that day, passed away in her sleep due to preexisting health complications this past August,” he said.

In an effort to honor the woman and her father, Max performed “Take Me” at the woman's memorial service later that week, he said.

As a direct result of that experience and watching a news-magazine television show that featured a young man who'd returned from Iraq following an IED attack that left him blind, without legs and forced to use ill-fitting prosthetics that hurt more than helped, Max wondered why we treat our soldiers so inhumanely.

“The line came to me 'The good Lord prepared a place for those that don't come back, so we've got to prepare a place for those that do',” he said.

Later, Max was listening to a radio program featuring a filmmaker who'd been given permission to place "Helmet cams" and "HumV cams" with a squad of soldiers in Iraq for a documentary. At the premiere in San Francisco, soldiers in the squad were present for a question and answer period.

Max was taken by a questioner's not knowing how to help returning veterans as well as by the soldier's answer.

“A soldier replied, “Just someone to talk to and have a cup of coffee with might be all that's needed,” Max said. “Another audience member stood up and said "I don't have a question, I have a statement. I was in Iraq and our squad was in a small town. We were giving candy to some kids when someone, us or them I don't know who, started firing. I swung my 50cal. around to start shooting at the rooftops. I suddenly realized I'd blown apart a ten year old boy I'd just given candy too. When I returned home, I was treated like a hero, though I certainly didn't feel like one.”

There are thousands of stories like this, Max said.

“My inclination is that most don't want to be treated as heroes, just folks who've proudly done their duty and may have visible or unseen scars from their service to our country,” he said. “They must be recognized and treated so they can get on with their lives and the pursuit of happiness their service made possible.”It was during this time Max wrote “Prepare A Place.”

“Though I believe this song honors our vets, past present and future, I didn't write "Prepare A Place" for them,” he said. “I wrote it for us, everyone else, whose duty it is to 'Prepare a place for those that do.'

In writing “Prepare A Place,” Max hopes it becomes a call to action and people listening to his song will be inspired to help wounded vets.

As Max worked on the song, he also traveled to Nashville to participate in a song-writing circle where he met Renee LaChapelle, which led to the song being included in Brian's CD project.

“I met Max at a local songwriter's circle. This circle is special and has been run by Kathy Hussey for the past 20 years,” Renee said. “Max happened to show up one night while visiting Nashville. He played his song and I had just gotten involved with Brian's project. I listened to his song again on Myspace and let Brian know about it. I am glad that Max got an opportunity to be on the project!”

If you or someone you know has any information about my son, Austin Renshaw's case, please call 1-800-CRIME-13 (1-800-274-3313).