Steve Goodwin was a software engineer by profession, but music was his true passion. But he had never recorded or written anything down, nor played for anyone outside of his family and friends. As his memory began to fade, his family found a professional pianist, Naomi LaViolette, to work with him to save the music in his head. Steve played parts of his songs that he could remember, and Naomi filled them in. Through 2016 and into 2017, she memorized 16 of his favorite songs and scored the music for future musicians.

At the Oregonian, Tom Hallman Jr. shares the story of their collaboration and includes audio samples of songs, like “Melancholy Flower,” the last piece Steve would ever compose.

All those years, I never wrote my songs down or recorded them. Everything — every note and phrase and chord progression — was in my head. All my life, I could remember every song and how to play it.

Then I couldn’t.

I felt like my fingers and my heart were doing everything they were supposed to do. But the result wasn’t coming out the way it was intended. There was a gap between my head and the piano. I can absolutely hear the music in my head. That’s what’s so frustrating. I know how it’s supposed to sound, but I can’t make it happen.

I’m angry.

I’m sad.

I’m scared.

It’s all in my head.

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Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.