Dean Madonia wanted to write a concept album for a long time but he was unsure about what the topic should be. He thought he didn't have the proper writing skills to come up with an original idea himself, but being an avid fan of horror and science fiction, he thought adapting Mary Shelley's beloved novel, Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus
into a rock opera was the perfect way to combine those two genres with his love of music. Not wanting to completely duplicate Shelley's story, Madonia made a change in the narrative by telling it 200 years later from the monster's-eye-view as a warning sign to a genetic researcher about to make the first human clone. Shadow to Shadow, Dean Madonia's Frankenstein
is a two-disc progressive rock opera that was released in 2013. It took four years for Madonia to complete the project. He wrote it in airports, planes, and hotel rooms while traveling for tours.
"When He Plays his Guitar" is the eleventh track. It's the moment when the monster witnesses a blind elderly man that lives in a cabin play guitar for the first time. In our interview with Madonia
, he explained his intention for the song: "I was trying to think about what it would be like for somebody like the monster who's basically just a giant baby to experience music for the first time." He continued, "It describes in the book that he's just overcome with emotions that he doesn't understand. It just made me think about the effect of music on people in general."