The Friday Morning Listen: Shanna Zell – Coming Undone (2011)

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It’s been a weird week, one saved by a few completely unrelated events. Saved from what? Let’s call it a dark mood, one that threatened to completely shut down my creative channels. It was a close call, as those channels haven’t exactly been gushing with ideas as of late. So it didn’t seem like it would take much to push me over the line.

But then I’m reading a magazine, The Sun, and there’s a quote from writer Anne Lamott – “How come you can hear a chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?”

It’s a great question, isn’t it? And it pretty much distills my concept of the mystery of musical resonance — why does that music make me react that way? So Lamott’s quote got me to thinking about just how great it feels when that reaction washes over you.

And so I felt a little bit better.

Earlier in the week (it might have been Tuesday), I woke up and did what I usually do every morning: pop open the browser on my phone to read the latest entry at Jeph Jacques’ Questionable Content. You might think that a web comic is a sort of low-brow way to start the day but, aside from the fact that on most days it’s funnier than hell, I find Jacques’ story inspiring. The guy did the comic as a kind of hobby until it became big enough for him to quit his day job. I had left GMail up the previous evening, so I scanned the emails before switching over to QC. There was a story in the No Depression newsletter about the latest Greg Brown album, due to released next month. A little Internet digging, and a couple of emails later I have a download link sent to me from a publicist at Yep Roc.

Brown’s Freak Flag blows me away…and I feel better still.

The next morning I decide to grab a few CDs from my review shelf, listening fodder for the drive to work. I had listened to Shanna Zell‘s EP once or twice after receiving it, but then circumstances intervened. I get to “When Will They Meet” and it’s immediately obvious that I have to give myself over to this song. It’s one of those star-crossed lovers, will they/won’t they pop songs that reminds me of a more rockin’ inversion of Dar Williams’ “Miss You ‘Til I Meet You.” I might have been more open to it because of the week’s earlier events, but for a few minutes flying down that country road, I’m listening to the perfect pop song. I’m at once grinning and nearly overwhelmed with emotion, grateful that I can feel something again.

How does this happen? How did those chords break open my heart?


When Will They Meet?


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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski
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