Sunday, May 15, 2011


Justin Bieber. What a crazy phenomenon he has become. I have to say, I am always skeptical of these teen sensations that get launched to stardom. Usually, their fame is not fueled by talent.

But I have to hand it to Justin Bieber. I'm not a huge Bieber fan, by any means. But I've listened to his music and I've listened to him on live recordings, and the kid's got talent.

There's a chord progression that has been used FOREVER and it never fails: G-Em-C-D

Songs that use this chord progression include:

"Stand By Me" - Ben E. King
"This Magic Moment" - The Drifters
"Duke Of Earl" - Gene Chandler
"Earth Angel" - The Penguins
"Teenager In Love" - The Hit Crew
"Beautiful Girls" - Sean Kingston
"Canon in D" - Pachelbel


"Baby" - Justin Bieber

Millions of dollars and girls have been won through these four simple chords. So I decided to do my own acoustic version of Justin Bieber's "Baby". Here it is, hope you enjoy it:

You also might enjoy this:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Irish Tin Whistle

From a very young age, I have had a fascination with the Irish tin whistle. If you're wondering what that is, think Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On". That song is immediately recognized by almost anyone at the very beginning when the whistle comes in.

Why do I like this instrument so much? I honestly don't really know. I love the simplicity of it, I suppose. The tin whistle takes the melody of many Celtic classics and has a pure sound that I love. I was telling my friend, Nicole, about my love for the tin whistle as I showed her some of my favorite songs by Kate Rusby (a fantastic Celtic singer, if you're interested in finding some good stuff) and I said, "I've always wanted to learn to play that instrument."

That's when it occurred to me...what's stopping me??

"I'm going to order one online tonight," I said. And I did order one. And after a very short amount of practicing, I am proud to say that I have a few little songs in my repertoire. I have recorded two short videos of me playing "Concerning Hobbits", from Lord Of The Rings, and "Amazing Grace".

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Little Respect

I have always loved the song "Little Respect" by Erasure. Sure, they are a pretty weird 80's band, but I like a lot of their stuff. For those who aren't familiar with the song, here's a fairly recent remake of their video, I believe:

Anyway, I've kind of had this cover of this song in my pocket and hadn't recorded it or anything until NOW! I think this song takes on a whole new personality when played softer with an acoustic guitar. So here's my version:

Hope you like it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

El Hadj Kheznadji

I recently watched "The Kite Runner" for the first time. What a touching film. It's one of those stories that helps you gain perspective by reminding you how good your life is, and how much suffering happens while you are casually hanging out with your friends.

I think that whenever we are exposed to new things, we try and associate them with familiar things. In this case, I thought about someone I haven't thought much about for five years or so: a Muslim man named El Hadj Kheznadji. A mouthful, I know. Sympathizing with my inability to pronounce anything Arabic, he allowed me to call him "Hahs". He was a dear friend of mine and I regret to say that I have no idea where he is now or what he chose to do with his life after we lost contact.

I shared an apartment with Hahs during my mission in Spain. We shared many meals and evening chats on our balcony, looking up at the castle in Antequera. Hahs was a great friend to me in a town where nobody knew who I was. He was a genuinely kind person who valued honesty, integrity, and believing in something. Hahs had lead a difficult life, but never failed to make us laugh when we came home from a hard day of work.

Being a muslim, he did not see eye to eye with us when it came to religion, but we exchanged beliefs and passages of scriptures often. Hahs helped me understand the strong convictions of good, Muslim people. He shared with me stories and passages from the Quran. He read the Book of Mormon in Arabic, and held great respect for Joseph Smith, who Hahs believed to be one of many prophets.

I left Antequera and lost touch with Hahs. Seeing a film with so much Muslim culture reminded me of him. He was a blessing in my life, and helped open my eyes to the goodness in people in all parts of the world.

I hope he is well.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good Cop, Bad Cop

I got my first freeway ticket last night. I'm really not a freeway speeder. It's the 25 MPH signs I have a problem obeying. But last night, while driving between University Parkway in Orem, and Center Street in Provo, apparently I was going 72 MPH in a construction zone (55 MPH).

Now I admit that is a possibility. I did not look at my speedometer until I saw a sign just before Provo Center Street which indicated a sharp curve and that I should slow down to 45 MPH. I then realized I needed to slow down, and I did.

The lady cop came up to the window and I rolled it down and said hello. Now let me just say, I do not disrespect police officers and I had no intention of disrespecting this one. But for some reason, she came at me li
I was going to cause a problem. The dialogue went like this:

(I'm highlighted in blue, and the cop in red)
"We in a hurry this evening?"
"Do you have any clue how fast you were going? Before you saw me and slowed down, of course."
"Umm...I didn't see you actually. I slowed down when I saw a sign saying there was a curve sign."
"There was a what now?"
"A sign indicating a said 45."
"There was not 45 degree curve"
"Not a 45 degree curve. A 45 MPH curve."
"There's nowhere on the freeway with a 45 MPH speed limit."
".....ok." (There most certainly is. I drove past it on my way home.)
"You were going 72."
"Sorry. I didn't notice lots of construction until I saw that sign for--" I stopped, realizing that the sign I was about to mention "didn't exist".
"Are you trying to tell me that there's no construction over there?"
"No, I'm not. I...don't you want my license and stuff?"

She did her thing and went back to her car to write me my ticket and I'm thinking I'm going to get slammed with a double-fine construction zone ticket. On the contrary, she came back with a big smile, said she wasn't going to write it up for a construction zone. She said she was lowering it to 65 MPH and that she just hated making people pay the larger fines. She then told me about her husband and a ticket that he got in a construction zone. All the while I'm staring at her, nodding, trying to determine whether this is the same lady that just antagonized me to no end not two minutes ago. She laughed, made a few police jokes, and said, "You have a good evening, sir."

I stared at my ticket for a moment, so confused by this cop with split personalities. I shrugged it off, and pulled out, making an illegal U-turn. Luckily, she either didn't see it or she just let it slide.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dance, monkey! Dance!

I have this pet peeve that has followed me for some time. For as long as I can remember, I have been expected to perform on command for my friends and family. Whether it be singing, comedy, or impressions, it only takes one person who hasn't seen it and I have to do it for everyone in the room. It's flattering, don't get me wrong. It means they are entertained by me and that they think I'm talented. And if you have ever asked me to perform, please don't let this post make you feel bad. It's really fine. It's just that sometimes you just want to be with your loved ones and talk, and sometimes it just doesn't feel like the right setting to put on a show. Sometimes I feel a bit like this poor monkey...

I mean look at this monkey's face! Is he happy? No, he's not a happy monkey. Go ahead, look into his eyes for a few seconds. You know what that look is? Madness. Yep. He's gone insane because all anyone wants to do is wind him up and watch him dance around. Poor sap.

During my mission in Spain, I had a companion named Brad Kesler. Elder Kesler watched people wind me up over and over again....

"Do your President Monson impression, Johnson!"

"Sing like Michael Jackson!"

"Dance, monkey! Dance!"

Kesler used to step between me and the mob of missionaries starved for entertainment and yell, "Hey! If he wants to do it, he'll do it. He's not your monkey you can just snap your fingers at and have a show." Disappointment inevitably followed. They looked at me as if I had robbed them of something. Laughs and smiles they knew I could facilitate, and yet I was withholding them.

But why did it bother me so much to be asked to perform when I so often perform by choice? Something about being requested to perform soured the whole experience for me. Then I found some old home videos. Not the kind you've watched over and over growing up and the family has all of the funny parts memorized. These tapes were from my grandma's old camera. Unseen footage of my childhood before my family owned a camera. I watched a young, innocent, and quite honesty very cute Shaun Johnson, playing with his toys and enjoying his life. And that's when the voices from behind the camera started winding Little Shaun up.

"Hey Shaun, come over to the camera and sing that song you were singing earlier!"

"Shauny! Say that funny thing you said earlier so grandma and grandpa can hear it!" innocent, defenseless little

Little Shaun looked up from his play time. He looked past the camera toward the demanding voices. Sad frustration covered his face as he reluctantly obeyed. Sighing heavily in defeat, he stood up from his toys, walked over to the camera, and began to perform.

Suddenly, this deep resistance I had to performing all became clear. I turned to my parents and said, "This is it! This is why I have a thing about people demanding that I perform!" I was satisfied to have solved the mystery of this behavior developed from such a young age.

But what was this? We kept watching. I was performing. Little Shaun was performing....but he was loving it. All eyes were on him. They were laughing and cheering. If the camera moved away from him, he quickly moved back into frame. Now people were done watching him, having satisfied their need for entertainment. But he wanted more! He was just as attention hungry as the family was demanding!

I was forced to accept that, although I had grown to resist performing for people on command, performing was one of the things I loved doing most. Little Shaun understood that. And now, so do I...

...seriously though, if you ask me to perform I'll probably be bugged. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Did you know that starting a career is not as easy as it seems? Seriously though, I feel like a pretty capable, hard-working individual. But I'm coming to realize that none of these companies think it's cool that I have a Bachelor's Degree...

Since work is scarce and I have a summer commitment that prevents me from getting temporary work, I am in a state of "limbo" so to speak. Caught between two of life's many phases. Many of you are probably very accustomed to being asked, "So what are you up to these days?" Well when you're in limbo, this question becomes difficult or slightly embarrassing to answer. I find myself telling people what I was up to and what I hope to be up to in the near future, skipping over what I'm (not) up to these days. This seems to satisfy most people. There is the exception, of course, of the friend that keeps asking, "Seriously though, what do you do?" until you finally have to say, "Nothing! Ok? I do nothing. I have a Bachelor's Degree so please respect that."

Yes, I'm living every 15 year-old's dream. I guess you got what you always wanted, didn't you, 15 year-old Shaun? Zero responsibility and an Xbox 360 in your room. (These are the kinds of things I say to a picture of my 15 year-old self as I ponder my life.)

But it's really fine. I do not wish to give the impression that I'm unhappy. I am simply waiting for the wheels to start turning again.

Why am I telling you this? Well first of all, this is my blog so I can tell you whatever I want if you choose to read it. But I suppose my point is that if there has ever been a time when I've had time to type out the random thoughts that run through my mind and post them online, it's now. So I'm gonna do that...