Posted in Featured Songs, Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

How to Write a Song

How to write a song? I wish I had the definitive answer. A song begins with nothing and becomes something. How? I am a professional Muscle Shoals songwriter with years of songwriting in Nashville as well and am often asked how I write songs. That is a slightly different question that where do songs come from. Let me go from the nothingnesss of my song One Moment All Time through the process to completion. Listen to the completed, as of now, song.

One Moment All Time – Stephanie C Brown (River and Stones Music) Mark Narmore (Nobel Vision)

One Moment All Time – written by Stephanie C Brown and Michael A Curtis

This song began with a spark of memory and longing. I did not have any of the words. I did not have any of the melody. I am evading the question of where the song came from and moving on to the process of writing it. No matter the song my songwriting process with my cowriters is basically the same once we have distilled the emotion or idea into one phrase or melody line. Normally that phrase is the hook or title of the song.

Not all of my songs began with an emotion. The ones that do like this one are not necessarily better songs than the ones that began with ideas, lines, melody or a combination. I strongly suggested they were in another post, but once we dig in and begin, craft is everything. I have seen songs that began with great ideas and hooks get lost because the songwriters were not skilled enough in the craft of songwriting. A great melody is not so easily lost.

I am not skilled in the craft of songwriting, by my cowriters are. Once we are together the process begins. Mark Narmore and I cowrite One Moment All Time. Before we got to together, I wrote five phrases with a note above each syllable all around that memory, a moment that comes back to me time and time again with all the emotions. That is not normally my process. The only way I play the piano is one note at a time with one finger. I can sometimes group the notes into chords with out knowing the name of the chord or what key.

I began with this.

to show where my song began
First words and notes of One Moment All Time

The true process began with Mark Narmore and my cowriting session. We crafted the song from my lines and bit of a melody. Mark is a keyboardist. Once he sat down at the piano with my lines and notes, he heard the melody. Again, where did that melody come from? I have no answer. Once we had the melody, our words had to flow perfectly with it. They had to meter and rhyme flawlessly. That is crafting. The arrangement – again crafting. In a future post, I will delve further into how to write a song, the process and craft.

I want to jump into what happened with One Moment All Time after that first session. We followed through with a studio demo. in a future post, I will delve into the demo process, too. As a trailer for that, here’s the Muscle Shoals chord chart written by Clayton Ivy. Amazing to me that a group of Muscle Shoals musicians can listen to a piano and vocal demo and write a chart to this detail, go out onto the floor and each follow the chart. I promise more about that later.

Muscle Shoals Chord Chart
Muscle Shoals Chord Chart written by Clayton Ivey for One Moment All Time

Of all the songs I have written A Moment All Time and Betty Jean are my two favorites.

Betty Jean – written by Stephanie C Brown and Michael A Curtis

This is my sharing space. Sharing takes at least two. Please, talk to me. Leave comments or questions. Subscribe to my blog.

Posted in Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Songwriting – Craft or Art?

(August 23, 2021 disclaiimer : I do not stand behind this except as what seemed true on that day)

All songs are not created equal. I should know. I have been writing songs more years than some of my cowriters are old. I am seventy five. I started writing in my mid-thirties. Do that math! I know the rules well enough to follow them or break them. Like carpenters who can make square boxes after learning to make one square box, songwriters can write songs once they learn the basics of combining words and melodies. According to Harlan Howard, country music’s songwriting legend, three chords and the truth is all you need to write a great song. For a blues song, you need less than that. I cowrite as many as four songs a week in different genres with songwriters much more skilled than I in structure. I regularly write with seven different co-writers: Mark Narmore, Sandy Carroll, CoCo O’Conner, Will McFarlane, ElizaBeth Hill, Taylor Grace, and Mitch Mann in varying combinations. We write many genres, some simple and some complex. I am confident in saying we are not going to write a bad song – unless we want to. That is the only claim I will make. We control craft but not art.

I have songwriting questions for which I have no answers. What makes one song better than another? Why can not all my songs be either beautifully artistic or commercially successful? Why do listeners love one more than another? I wish I had the answers to mine and the ones others ask. The one question I am often asked, I can answer. What happens in a songwriting session? The answer? It depends. There is no typical or normal cowriting session for us. We set appointments. We show up. We write. None of the songs are the same. Some are better than others. I go into every session hoping for a song to come shining through with that intangible magic that comes from somewhere other than the songwriters.

CoCo O’Conner, ElizaBeth Hill, and I had such a session yesterday. We showed up for our 10:00 Zoom session. (All the things said about showing up are true.) CoCo and i have written many songs together with many different cowriters but not with ElizaBeth. I would like to think the combination of the writers gave the song the intangible quality, but from my experience with cowriting I know more than the combination of writers was involved. The song has more than three chords, but it does have the truth. That is true of many of my songs, but not all of them are inspired. Inspiration does not always show up, but when it does we can feel it in the room – even a Zoom one. We began by talking about what was going on in our lives. As professional writers, we try to come into sessons with something, maybe a title, an idea, some lines, a bit of melody. The three of us have lived long enough and have gone through enough to write about and for women. We talked about the ideas and lines we came in with and about what we wanted to say to other women. I can over-dramatically say, the song wrote itself – or maybe inspiration wrote it. Our song, “She Never Got to Memphis” says a lot about women and life.

When we have demoed it, I will share on the Songs page. I hope you feel the intangible. I would love to say this song will surely surface and be heard by the masses. I would love to say all who hear it will love it. Unfortunately, that is unlikely. All I can say is we three women songwriters love the song and are thankful to have written it.

Posted in Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Speeding the Tempo Up

I do not always write up-tempo songs, but when I do they are good ones. At least I think so. Today I am sharing seven with you. You decide.

All are published by River and Stones Music (ASCAP) and cowriters’ publishing companies.

I Call It Love – writtten by Mitch Mann, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown
Mercy Mae – written by Sandty Carroll, CoCo O’Conner, and Stephanie C Brown
Me or the Dress -written by Will McFarlane and Stephanie C Brown
Inside Your Crazy – written by Mitch Mann, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown
Heartbreak Speed – written by Jami Grooms, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown
Surprise Me – written by Mark Narmore and Stephanie C Brown
Lumber of the Beast – written by Mitch Mann, Mark Narmore, and Stephanie C Brown

And now – one bonus to slow the tempo down a bit

Betty Jean – written by Michael A. Curtis and Stephanie C Brown
Posted in Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

A Ballad Kind of Day

Seven ballads for you. All songs written by me with cowriters in various combinations and published by each writer’s publishing company. River and Stones Music has all of my publishing except Love is Everything which is in Golden Ladder publishing company.

Betty Jean – cowriters Michael A. Curtis and Stephanie C Brown
Love Is Everything – this one goes back to my Nashville days. Written with Marc Rossi (Marc My Words – Ascap)
One Moment All Time – written by Mark Narmore and Stephanie C Brown
What About My Heart – written by Will McFarlane and Stephanie C Brown
I Know Where It Ends – written by Sandy Carroll and Stephanie C Brown
This Is My Brave – written by Mark Narmore and Stephanie C Brown (There is a wrong pronoun shift. All choruses should be My Brave not Your Brave)
You’re Breaking My Broken – written by Mark Narmore, Cindy Richardson Walker, and Stephanie C Brown
Posted in Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

My Songs

I have updated – Stephanie C Brown Songs – I hope you enjoy some of the songs.

Through it all, I write. Through songs, I process the world as I see it and feel it. I believe in the power of words and that that power is amplified with music. Sometimes I am given words. That is hard to explain. We call it writing the song in the room. My hope is always that we write a song that is true and universal. There does not have to be a lesson or even a comment. If our words and melodies move you in body or soul or both, as songwriters we have done our job. Writing a song that expresses for someone who does not have the words for what they feel is the ultimate for me.

I am still feeling the unrest in my country and have no words about that. For tonight’s post, I took songs off the song page and added more. They are all demos, rough takes, or a simple songwriters’ demos. All are published in River and Stones Music (ASCAP) and my cowriters’ publishing companies.

Please, go to the song page. You can find it on the menu. I hope one or more of the songs moves you in some way.

Posted in Backyard Birds, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Some Days – for the Birds

I am thankful all my days are not the same. Mark Narmore and I wrote a song around that idea. It is not about birds, but this entry is. Thanks to Mark for his great demo of Most Days. I hope you enjoy the song and the photos of today’s birds.

Most Days – Are Not -written by Mark Narmore (Nobel Vision ) and Stephanie C Brown (River and Stones Music _Ascap)

I am feeling the unrest in my country so am having a difficult time settling down to do anything productive. Thank heavens, today was a day for the birds. I put out black-oil sunflower seeds on my deck every morning for the birds. My camera stays on the coffee table right in front of an easy chair. Today some came. I have chosen to post only the ones of Red-brested Woodpecker and American Goldfinch

The day could have been for many things. Today it was for the birds.

American Goldfinch – Florence, Alabama – my deck – January 9, 2021 (I can not travel in time so ignore the date on the photos. I need to reset my camera.)

Red-breasted Woodpecker – Florence, Alabama – my yard – January 9, 2012

Today has been a good day.

Posted in Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Blue Ocean Glass

I am sole owner and founder of Blue Ocean Glass which handles publishing, management, and promotion for songwriters and artists who need my help. The company will also do event planning for others. I needed a business structure around what I do anyway. I have a Nashville history as a publisher, a manager, and an advisor and early supporter. Garth Brooks credits me. When he came to Nashville, I believed in him and did everything I could to help him. I introduced him to his manager Bob Doyle. I read his first contracts. I told people he would be bigger than Elvis. I was laughed at, but no one is laughing now. I do not think I have found another Garth, but I am finding songwriters and artists who need guidance from someone who has their best interests at heart. Through the years, I have helped others. Blue Ocean Glass will do what I already do.

So far Taylor Grace Longcrier and Jeff Broadfoot are under Blue Ocean Glass’ wings. When it is safe to be out again, Blue Ocean Glass will host a live showcase or two. The first one will probably be a Soup and Song event at my house. The next will be in a listening room situation. First, I will introduce them with a online showcase hosted on stephaniecbrown.com.

This is Wednesday’s scheduled blog post, but Blue Ocean Glass deserves a well thought out and well written post with links to Taylor and Jeff. Stay tuned. Check back in. I will add to this post.

Posted in Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

A Christmas Song and More for You

Noel No You — (River and Stones Music, ASCAP and cowriters’ publishing) – I need to check writers in addtion to Sandy Carroll, Mitch Mann, Jim Gaines, and Stephanie C Brown)

Since I am in song mode, I will share three more. To listen to even more, go to Stephanie C Brown Songs (on the menu)

If Salvation Had a Color – ( Stephanie C Brown, Mark Narmore, Lillian Glanton – River and Stones, ASCAP and cowriters’ publishers)
Little Diamonds – (Stephanie C Brown, Sandy Carroll, Mark Narmore – River and Stones Music, ASCAP and cowrtiers’ – publishers)
We Will Dance (Stephanie C Brown, Mark Narmore, Sandy Carroll – River and Stones Music ASCAP and cowriters’ publishers) – I need to check for another cowriter)

I write a lot with six different cowriters in different combinations. I wrote ten songs in November. Someone has admin for River and Stones Music, so there is a record of cowriters. I could check but did not this morning.

I hope you enjoy listening. I am not always so melancholy. Just listen to Lumber of the Beast if you do not believe me!

Lumber of the Beast – Stephanie C Brown, Mark Narmore, Mitch Mann

Please leave a comment or email to let me know! If you liked one more than the rest, let me know that, too.

Posted in Cowriters, Featured Songs, Journal, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Stephanie C Brown Songs

I updated my song page – http://stephaniecbrown.com/stephanie-c-brown-songs. I took down songs that were there and added different ones.

Through all my ups and downs, changes and standstills, one thing I do remains constant. I write songs with my cowriters. We Zoom write anywhere from once to three times a week. Before Covid19, we wrote at my house two to four times a week. I have lost count of how many songs I have written since 1975. I started in Muscle Shoals, moved to Nashville, and then returned home. I had some success as a songwriter in Nashville including cowriting “Burning Bridges” which is on Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind album. The songs I love best are not necessary the most commercial ones. In fact, they seldom are. I jokingly say that a song is probably commercial because I do not particularly like it.

I cowrite with several cowriters regularly – Mark Narmore, CoCo O’Conner, Sandy Carroll, Will McFarlane, Mitch Mann, Cindy Richardson Walker, Grant Walden, Alecia Elliott Fisher, andTaylor Grace Longcrier. I am the pimp. I keep everyone booked in one combination. I get available dates from everyone to see who can write on the same days. Then I let everyone know who is writing with whom when. Sometimes I write with only one other person, but if more than one other is available, I might write with two or three others. I have written with as many as four! During Covid19, not only do I write simply because that is what I do but also because Zoom sessions with my cowriters are social interaction, too. We know each other so well, our sessions are personal. All of our songs are not all from my or my cowriters’ experiences, but they all were the song in the room.

Please, listen to some of the songs, and let me know if you have favorites. John Prine once told me I was the most important person sitting in a song circle because I was the audience. As a creative person, I need an audience. I may fear it, but I need it.

Listen to the last one for something totally different and probably unexpected. All of these songs are available with clearance.