The Lime Green Riff

A boy shares the purest piece of himself with the world.

Ultimate Guitar

In Rural Somewhere, a boy enters his room and closes the door. His age is irrelevant, as is the year of this story. For simplicity's sake, the boy is timeless and infinite. The time, however, is 1:22 AM. He plugs his PRS guitar into his 15 watt amp with his left hand, while his right hand searches the nightstand for a lime green pick. The grainy feedback escaping from the petite box is amplified at 10.

Holding the pick between thumb and middle finger, he plays a riff. It's the only riff he's played in the last 4 years. And it's the one he will play until he dies. It's just four notes. "Dow da bah bwamp" is the sound as described by the boy's neighbors, who have heard this riff reverberate from the boy's bedroom for the last 1,460 days, always at 1:22 AM. They have never once complained. In fact, some set their alarms for 1:20 AM, opening their windows or stepping out to have a sit on the porch while the riff is played. It is, for lack of greater definition, a tradition. Every day at 1:22 AM, he has played the riff at full volume. No one can say why, exactly. The boy has never spoken of his affinity for it. In fact, outside of his room, it seems the riff does not exist.

Passersby in automobiles have been known to pull off to the side of the road when they hear it.

Some say the riff is so monumentally original and pure that nothing like it has ever been plucked before. For those who have heard it - and the millions of future passersby who have yet to - the experience is life-altering. Letters neatly stacked beside the boy's amplifier tell him that his 4 notes are the closest they've come to looking God in the eyes. A hand-written letter from Oakdale, Michigan claims that the author hastily disowned all of their tangible possessions in a quest for the inner purity they experienced during the 7 seconds it took the boy to play the riff back-to-back.

At St. Joseph's Church's Sunday mass, the pastor proclaims to his flock that "dow da bah bwamp" (or the "lime green riff") might be the sound a man hears when he has reached enlightenment. After the service, an elder member of the congregation whispers to the priest that she "has heard the infinite reaches of space being defined in 4/4 time." Another, when eating breakfast with his family, will liken the sound to "riding atop a ball of fire that's descending into the purest waters of the Arctic Circle."

Because of its unique characteristics, detractors have taken to stamping their feet and shaking their fists, not out of hatred, but out of envy. Outraged that they did not think of the riff first, they will tell anyone within ear's reach to listen to Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" in reverse (and in slow-motion) to hear where the lime green riff really originated. But no mind will be paid to such outrageous accusations.

The riff is almost a religion to the surrounding counties. Countless requests have been issued for the boy to play the 4 notes at birthday parties, at picnics, and even at festivals. But the boy will never play it unless he is in his bedroom at 1:22 AM. It's the only place that it feels "right." So while the boy's phone beeps 33 messages by lunchtime, he will leave them unheard and unanswered, because he knows that all but one of them will be requests for him to play "dow da bah bwamp."

The boy ignores adulation-soaked stares in the hallways at school. He does not accept donations from neighboring residents for the culture he has brought to their community. When congress finally gets around to passing a bill mandating that all television sets and electronic devices issuing any type of noise be turned off within a 4-mile radius from 1:18 to 1:28 AM, the boy will not gloat. Nor will he pay attention to the pundits on CNN arguing about how much of a tax break should be given to a family containing America's foremost "national treasure." (It will eventually be decided that the family pays no taxes and that the rest of the state will be taxed additionally to pay for a bigger amplifier for the boy, which he will not accept.)

The boy will sit by himself whenever possible. He will only open his mouth to speak to his immediate family, and even then it will happen rarely. His future is full of solidarity. And he will die alone at the age of 74.

But today, tomorrow, and for the days that follow, the boy goes to sleep every night knowing that there is such a thing as a perfect moment. And he will experience that moment every night, in his room, at 1:22 AM. Until the day he dies.

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Pretty sure the riff is those four notes from Shine On You Crazy Diamond. "dow da bah bwamp". You're singing it now.
    this was so good my amp took a shit in my living room with corn stuck in it from thanksgiving
    Very interesting! Looking forward to more stuff from you in the future!
    That is the most beautiful thing I have ever read in my life. More musicians should be like this boy.
    The riff is the first four notes to Sweet Child of Mine. He hasn't gotten the rest yet..