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I woke up with a throat full of razor blades and the day didn't get better from there. I couldn't hear. I couldn't taste. I couldn't be nice. I was short-fused and longed to just be left alone.

As is often the case when I'm emotionally and physically under the weather, my head filled with melodies and lyrical fragments. Inspiration always strikes me when I'm the least available to play along. I hung Christmas lights, blowing my nose every other trip up the ladder, and sipping hot herbal tea just as frequently, while a piano ballad plodded in my brain. Then a mid tempo alt folk thing. And another. And another.

Songs have lost so much of their power for me. Music feels more and more often like a spreadsheet than a prayer. When inspiration erupts I feel more and more like a secretary taking dictation than a craftsman of any kind.

But not tonight.

When the house was still, the kids in bed and Becky at the store, I sat at the piano and prayed the melodies out. One by one. Nonsense words mixed with fortune cookie-like scraps of wisdom. Wrong notes rose from the old upright accompanying the right and beautiful progressions in my head.

And when the garage door opened and rumbled the floor under my feet I stood to go downstairs and help unload the car. No less sick. No less grumpy. But stronger somehow. Empty and full.

This is what I miss about making music. It's what hasn't happened to me in years. It's what I started out being: a person praying through a piano. I want to be that person again. Tonight I was convinced I can.


Blogger cruz-control said...

awesome, shaun.

Anonymous Victor Estrada said...

Hey, thanks for sharing your heart. I think thats something that all of us get hit with at sometime or another in our journey as musicians. I know that it's happened to me and it is something that I continue to strugle with from time to time. I welcome it though because those are the times that I am reminded that I don't play music just as a job but it is my act of worship and that I am priveleged and blessed to be able to do that as my job. I love that.

- Vic

Blogger Matt Deane said...

Great post, Shaun.


Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

It was a good weekend for sick people who love music. I spent Friday night hacking away, listening to old songs and weeping. It's been a good three years since music made me cry because of its beauty or its truth. I know that's been a direct result of having my head full of all things Christian music industry. But wow. Step back a little from the racket of the machine, give the ears some time to get over their ringing and I can hear the music again.


Anonymous rachel "Gliter Girl" said...

shaun-i read your blog all the time, i like how you share your heart. i really hopping everything will work out so you can come to my church here in claremore, oklahoma! but you are my favorite songwritter/singer! i cant wait to hopfully some day be able to buy these songs you are talking about in this post:)
rachel aka gliter girl:)

Blogger GrovesFan said...


Sorry to hear you're not feeling well. It's been going around for sure. While I'm not wishing you continued illness, I'm wishing you the strength that comes from such introspective prayer playing. Can't wait to hear and pray along.


Blogger Fruitcake! said...

So I'm not the only one who prays through an instrument.

Blogger Steven M. Russell said...

Get better. And I guess this just goes to prove the point that "when we are weak he is strong."

Hope you get the rest and medicine you need to kicj whatever it is you have.

Anonymous emma said...

Great post Shaun. I think that is part of the beauty of music... at its most basic level, it is our expression of what's deepest in us. I love to use music to pray, whether that's someone else's music on a CD or me with a guitar. Hope you feel better soon!


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