Hello, I recently read your memoir, Diamond in the Rough. I am writing to share my thoughts and opinions about your book. I looked forward to reading your memoir as I am a fan of your songs "Every Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic" and "Sunny Came Home." Shawn, you are a musically-creative soul.
While enjoying your stories, I realized we share many of the same experiences. My older sister also has an affinity for pyromania. While you set a Vermillion, South Dakota grass field ablaze, my sister set a Howard, South Dakota class room on fire in 2002. Luckily, like you my sister only caused minimal damages. It saddened me to learn that you moved away from the Midwest at a young age with your parents and little brother. I currently live in Vermillion and enjoy many of the experiences you write about, like road trips to see the United States's largest bird house - the Corn Palace. While I wish you still lived here, moving away from the Great Plains may have been for the best as I worry you might have burned down half of my state if you stayed.
I appreciate your decision to begin every chapter of your memoir with some of your song lyrics. Chapter six’s lyrics from the song "Trouble" ("I go to the trouble like a magnet. That’s where I’ll be. Trouble is just a place to sing. It’s what you need.") perfectly introduced the tales that follow. By far your strongest chapter, it detailed your battle with anorexia and struggle with depression while touring with The Dixie Diesels across Texas. Your open discussion of your issues shows the reader that it was best for you to move home.
I must agree that James Taylor’s music is the best thing since sliced buffalo! I skipped my 4-H Graduation to see him in concert without my mother’s permission. Despite her ensuing rage (and a healthy dose of Catholic guilt), I could never regret the choice to see JT in concert. It made me jealous to read that you met, sang on stage, and created music with Sweet Baby James. I will forgive you, however, because of your influence on the new folk music movement and for telling me who Sunny is in your famous song 'Sunny Came Home.' Allowing me to call dibs on some of your extensive clothes collection - after your daughter’s selection, of course - would also go a long way toward healing our relationship.
Overall, I give your book two buffalos because reading it became a bit of a chore. Your memoir skips ahead in time and then comes back again a great deal while staying on similar subject matters. I found your style confusing as the majority of your story unfolds chronologically. I often felt lost in the timeline. Perhaps your writing style reflects your musical background and the free-flowing structure of song writing. I wish you and your family all the best as you continue to create lovely music. Anyone looking for a grassroots perspective on making folk music since the '60s will find your book to be a "diamond in the rough."
All the best,