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

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

Stephanie C Brown Songs

I updated my song page – 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.