Story Behind the Song: “I Don’t Pray Anymore”

My latest single, as of this writing (early May 2017), is a song I wrote over thirty years ago, in early 1987. That was before I was writing lyrics on the computer, and before I started keeping extensive notes of lyric drafts in progress, so it would be tough to recreate the history of the song in any detail. What I do remember, though, is that the idea for the song’s title came to me in the shower. Maybe you’d like to start playing the recording before reading the story? Here you go:

Let’s go back a bit. I was raised Roman Catholic — catechism, confession, first communion, confirmation, the whole nine yards. I was taught to say my prayers before bed, and there was a formal slate of prayers — “The Lord’s Prayer”, “Hail Mary”, “Glory Be”, “The Act of Contrition”, … — that I’d say, silently, each night after getting into bed. I got married in 1983, and some experiences my then future-, now ex-, wife and I had in trying to arrange a church for our wedding, which resulted in our “going church shopping”, and ending up getting married in a Methodist church neither of us had ever attend previously, soured me on the Catholic church to a degree. We did go to mass from time to time afterward, but not regularly, like I’d done prior to meeting her.

Somewhere during the not-quite-four years in between then and the time I wrote this song, I started to slack off on my nightly prayers routine. As best I can figure at this point, it was probably a combination of subconscious protest against the formalities (i.e. the set of rote prayers I’d been using) and laziness. Whatever the reason, though, I drifted away from that practice, without really noticing, until that one morning in the shower.

The realization that I wasn’t praying (at least regularly) directly led to the main part of the title, but it was sitting down at my kitchen table, and developing a story around that title that led to the second part of the original title (“But, Lord, I Need to Now”) which formed the rest of the hook. The story was one of someone whose life (or at least career) climbs to great heights, seemingly more or less on auto-pilot. But then the bottom falls out, and he realizes he’s taken a lot for granted on both the relationship and spiritual fronts. Having the bottom fall out is a wakeup call, though, and, though he hasn’t been praying, he needs to at this point.

So why did it take thirty plus years for the song to get out there? Well, it really didn’t. I recorded a demo of it, and even pitched it to some publishers. It got some positive comments, but no takers. I also played it live occasionally over the years, including this performance from 2011 in Aliso Viejo, California:

In fact, one of my earlier recordings was even played on an independent Christian music radio show out in Florida at one point. However, I didn’t actually start putting recordings out for public consumption myself until 2006, and I just never got around to bringing a recording of this song up to my current production standards until just recently. There were always other songs ahead of it in line.

Last month, though, I was really pinched for time, and the song I’d been intending to record would take a while, yet I was hoping to try and get something out on the roughly one-single-per-month schedule I’ve been on since October of last year. I was looking for some “low hanging fruit” (i.e. a recording I had that was at least somewhere in the ballpark, only needing remixing, not new recording), and this one felt like a the best candidate. So, thirty years later, here it is!