Interviews with Music Fans (Part 3 of 3)

3 Hour Tour Group - Interviews with Music Fans

Interviews with Music Fans (photo by Sereyna Avila)

PARTS 1 and 2 of the Series
Interviews with Music Fans-Part I of 3
Interviews with Music Fans-Part 2 of 3

Music brings people together. The photo above is a group shot of musicians and music fans from The 3 Hour Tour.  I’ve interviewed, or will interview soon, many of the musicians above. We were all brought together by Erin who’s included in the interviews today. Music is a very personal and subjective topic to all of us.  It has a deep, powerful and individualized effect on us.  Yet, I believe, the best musical moments are shared musical experiences.  Magical performances that you share with friends or strangers (that may even become friends). I started this series because my experience and perception of musical performances is so different than someone who doesn’t play an instrument.  I, in most cases, know exactly what notes they’re playing, what the chords are and why those chose them, what the rhyme scheme is maybe even what lyric is probably coming up next, why the instruments vary what they play on each section….. maybe even what they could do to make it better.  I have to make myself pull out of and turn off that analytic side and just enjoy and experience the moment.  There’s magic that can happen on stages, in coffeehouses and even on Yachts and you don’t want to miss those moments.  Just last night I was playing with an incredible singer as a duo.  We’ve never played as a duo, never rehearsed and decided what songs to do right on stage.  But something happened and we just locked in together and went to the same places, made the same choices.  It was magical and having played gigs for almost 40 years I know that does not happen every night.  The small but engaged crowd knew and were silent for the set.  We heard from so many people afterwards that they knew something special had just happened.  We all need more magical times in our life and music is a pretty good place to find magic and share it with your friends.

These last 3 people are special to me.  2 of them are at almost every gig I play and sometimes even the rehearsals.  The third organized one of the most memorable music afternoons of my life.  Hope you enjoy this final, for now, episode.  Thanks for being part of this.

Erin (Nashville, TN)


Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Erin: I took piano lessons for a number of years, but can’t play much more than Mary Had A Little Lamb, Heart & Soul, When You Wish Upon A Star and Penquins at Play from my Primary lesson book.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Erin: Back in my mid-20’s (the wild days) I went to 2-3 shows a week.  I think I saw more than 200 performances in a single year at my pinnacle. These days, with life demands getting in the way and less energy in my 30’s I probably get out to 2-3 shows a month if I’m lucky.  Having just moved to Nashville I have a feeling that number is going to spike a bit more again this year!

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Erin: It takes me back to places and times.  I can remember the day some songs were debuted on stage (i.e. were born).  I can remember where I was when I first heard them on the radio.  Sometimes the lyrics hit me in such powerful ways I just break down (especially worship music) and sometimes when a day is rough I just need to crank up a song with a good beat (preferably old school rap/hip hop) and listen on repeat til my stress goes away.  Music is a very emotional experience for me, and having the opportunity to me and be friends (albeit distant for many) with the people who write and sing them only add to the depth it can tie me to songs emotionally.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Erin: I rarely listen to instrumental music unless it’s something I’m playing in the background to help concentrate (i.e. classical).  I connect much more with music that has lyrics, and moreso lyrics that speak to me.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Erin: To some extent yes, a song can hit home just as much live as it does when I hear it in my car on the drive home, or when it comes up on my iPod or through Spotify as I’m getting ready in the morning.  However, the experience of live music always adds another dimension to music that can’t be captured in a recording.  The energy of the fans taking in the live music, seeing the performer deliver the song, watching the background music come to life through keys and strings and hits on drums all adds a much fuller sensory experience to listening to music.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Erin: Absolutely.  Each and every playlist I have takes me to one place or another.  My past, my present, this experience, that memory, those people, this roadtrip, that time in my life.  I even have songs that I imagine dancing to at my wedding (despite the fact that I haven’t even met my husband yet).  Music being able to bind itself to key moments in my life is one of my favorite attributes about it.  Putting the iPod on shuffle is like taking a walk down memory lane.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Erin: I don’t use the term “friends” as loosely as Facebook.  I tend to call them “musician friends” if they are artists that I like to support that I have come to know in going to their shows over the years who know me. If we don’t typically share meals together when we get together, chat on the phone or talk about subjects other than music – I don’t usually define them as a friend.  A handful have definitely become close personal friends, and I’m very blessed to have found them through music.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Erin: The best musicians know their fans, cater to their fans, appreciate their fans, and tailor their sets to what makes it the most enjoyable experience.  It really doesn’t matter if they forget lyrics, have a mishap on stage, it’s the realness and vulnerability they bring to their set that makes it fun to be a part of.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Erin: How great of a connection it can be between people, you and your emotions, experiences that will be the most memorable in your life and so much more.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Erin: It’s the cheapest therapy you can ever buy!

Cathy (Dallas, TX)

Interviews with music fans


Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Cathy: When I was about 6 years old, my mom was a big Broadway musical fan. Talent shows and music on the record player filled many days. Then came the Beatles, need I say more?

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Cathy: I tried the piano but just did not work..could play a bit by ear, but reading music and making my hands do what the sheet music said was just too frustrating. I resigned myself long ago to let others play the instruments the way they were intended..

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Cathy: I used to do at least 5 or 6 big concerts a year, along with some smaller local ones. The cost of those big shows, a desire to invest my hard-earned dollars where I think they can do the most good, and a desire to have a more personal experience, has me focusing my attention on local talent and smaller venues. I go to quite a few shows doing that!

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Cathy:  Music speaks to my heart and soul. It revs me up and slows me down, it makes me cry and makes me laugh. It makes me think.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Cathy: Humm, yes I listen to instrumental music almost as much as a song with lyrics. The instrumentals fill your senses with the unspoken passions of the musician(s) and give the music a freedom that reaches beyond words. It amazes me the way some instruments, such as the guitar, sound as if they are speaking words to me, or burrowing the notes in my head and heart.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Cathy: Depends on my mood, and who I am watching. For the most part, live music is the most fulfilling because I can actually watch it being created, the improvisations, the attachment between the artists and audience. But I love rocking, dancing and singing in the living room too!

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Cathy: Sure, many. Most of the important moments somehow connect to a song, since music is so important in my life.  “All My Lovin’” by the Beatles takes me back to the real beginning, “So Low” by Linda Ronstadt still brings out the tears, and “Dancin’ in the Dark” by Springsteen, well, I will keep that to myself!

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Cathy: Yes, I feel a real connection to musicians/artists. Perhaps because I connect to music so strongly, not to mention musicians tend to be more expressive, creative and connected to what life is. I love to watch the creative process. Through these wonderful friendships, I feel the music on an even more personal level than I thought was possible.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Cathy: Play your music from that place way down deep in your soul – believe in yourself!

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Cathy: I wish more music fans would be appreciative of the time and energy it takes for an artist to create and perform. Music is a gift from, musicians are sharing a part, a moment of their life with us. While not all music appeals to everyone, music is hard work, it has meaning, and importance to the artist that created it.  Respect that if nothing else.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Cathy: Music is life.

Netty (Fort Worth, TX)

Interviews with Music Fans


Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Netty: We did not have a tv in our home when I grew up.  We did however have a radio which was almost always turned on to jazz and classical music.  When I was about 5 I asked for my own radio and cassette recorder.  When I moved from The Netherlands to the US I had 2 suitcases with me.  One was filled with cassettes containing music, the other was filled with “stuff.”

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Netty: Music may give me energy, help me focus, allow me to easily connect to feelings of happiness.  As a child I always listened to music while doing homework.  It was almost always instrumental music, most of the time jazz, sometimes classical.  During difficult times, it helps take the edge off pain, both physically and emotionally.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Netty: Stronger actually. For me it is easier to experience instrumental music.

Our Scattered Words: What do you hear in the instrumental music that draws you in?
Netty:  Brass instruments; phrasing.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Netty: Live music is what I prefer.  Live music allows for a very different connection to the music, including a physical connection.  I find myself hearing the music differently and believe that’s impacted by the visual experience.  With live music you never know what to expect, especially in jazz.  There is a different level of excitement, in part because of others in the crowd.  There is nothing like being in a room of music lovers and great musicians.  The energy that is created can result is the most amazing musical moments that will last a life time.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Netty: Absolutely.  Some are connected to travel, while others are directly connected to people, or periods of sadness or joy.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Netty: Yes.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Netty: Possibly share more of what is happening on stage for them.  It’s not about whether your performance is technically perfect, it’s about how your interpretation and presentation of the music makes us feel.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Netty:  That listening at a live performance will enhance the experience for everybody 🙂

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Netty: As a “foreigner” I can attest that music is truly a universal language.  While two people speaking a different language may not be able to “connect” emotionally, music can change that in an instant.  For me personally music has helped me learn, heal, feel at home anywhere, and imagine the impossible.

PARTS 1 and 2 of the Series
Interviews with Music Fans-Part I of 3
Interviews with Music Fans-Part 2 of 3

Thank for for supporting music, creating music, reading about music how ever it is that you’re involved! Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Now go out and listen to some live music with your friends.

Thanks also for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words


Mercy Bell Songwriting Interview


Mercy Bell

Happy 2014!  Sorry I dropped off the map there for a bit. Work was really busy the last couple of months with a new exciting projects, lots of gigs, a music consulting project with Disney and just some needed family time.

There’s some great interviews coming up this year, that I’m excited to share with you.  Mercy Bell is a great one to start the year with.  My first introduction to Mercy was a Gummy Bear playing her, since she was sick, in a promo video for friends show at the Living Room about 3-4 years ago.  How many times have we all met someone in that same exact way?!

I found Mercy to be someone who loves music and songwriting.  She searches out people to talk about songwriting. She proudly shares her love of musicals.  She’s a kind and compassionate person who sincerely likes people and looks for the good in all people. We all need more Mercy Bells in our lives.

Current city- Nashville
Most Current Release- “All Good Cowboys” – too long ago, 2011

Brief introduction
Born in Boston, lived in San Francisco briefly as a kid, moved to San Diego and lived there for a decade, then moved to New Bedford, MA and lived there for 11 years until I moved to Brooklyn, NYC after college. Spent time in Arkansas, and now live in Nashville with my beautiful girlfriend. I’ve been singing in choirs, theater, or as a musician since I was 8 years old. I studied history at UMass Dartmouth. I’m part Filipino! I’ve had a lot of weird jobs to support my music career. Worked in corporate and non-profit offices, written textbooks, walked dogs, have been in a dunk tank, sold hot dogs, watched chickens, cleaned houses, fed cows, counted foot traffic, handed out snacks at concerts.

What is your songwriting/composing process?
Usually starts with either a hook or a sentence and then blossoms from there. It’s pretty organic.

What are you most proud of?
Probably my song “Black Dress”, it’s the most personal for sure.

You have a great love for musicals. Have you ever considered writing one?
Only every year since I was 8. The first song I ever wrote was for a Civil War musical when I was 10. I made my brother sing it. I also wrote a short film musical with my siblings and cousins one summer, it’s on YouTube somewhere. It was based on a found note on the ground that literally had the line “Armpits, stop the madness!”.

You spent time in several great musical cities (San Diego, Boston, New York and Nashville). How would you compare them as musical environments?
I can really only speak about New York and Nashville, as my time in San Diego and Boston I wasn’t focused on music yet. New York really taught me how to be an artist and how to hustle, you sing at dive bars with nobody there and you learn not to care, just sing anyway, learn how to do it for the love of it. In Nashville, in the indie/Americana scene at least, it’s easy to make a big splash fast. They’re so music hungry here and it’s easy to access the movers and shakers since the industry is here. You never know who will be in the audience. That was true in NYC to an extent, but Nashville is so much smaller.

Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Both! I usually have to play it out a few times. I can’t remember lyrics to save my life. I change them often because I forget them! If it sticks and flows, I use it.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Just off the top of my head

Patty Griffin’s “Top of the World”:

“But I’d pretend to be sleeping
When you’d come in in the morning
To whisper goodbye
Go work in the rain
I don’t know why”

Also Johnny Cash in Folsom Prison Blues,

“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.”

Pretty much anything Jenny Lewis or Sufjan Stevens writes (particularly “Casimir Pulaski Day”).

Music Reality shows have become very popular. maybe too popular. You’re a strong believer in musicians supporting each other rather than competing. Talk about your views on that.
I don’t see anything wrong with those shows. I know people who’ve gone on The Voice, AI, and America’s Got Talent, and they put everything they’ve got into it and deserve the exposure. I don’t do it because a) I don’t like signing contracts unless I really have to and b) I am not competitive. I’d be a really bad athlete. I can’t even sit through a board game without wanting to quit.

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Just do it. Show don’t tell.

If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Probably sing back up on one of Sufjan Steven’s albums. I’d say Patty Griffin but she doesn’t need any help.

If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Does Leonard Bernstein count?  I’d probably just want to hang out while he was writing West Side Story or On The Waterfront or Candide. I wouldn’t say a word, just watch. Can you imagine? Max Martin or Carole King. Those two can write pop hits and I love pop. I’d say Patty Griffin or Sufjan Stevens but I’d rather just sing karaoke with them and hear them talk about life.

Mercy Bell on the Web

Twitter @mercybell

All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Mercy Bell, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

Bonus materials for Mercy Bell include; 2 videos of Mercy and 3 music videos of songs she’s been enjoying lately.

Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words


Brent Baxter Songwriting Interview


Brent Baxter Songwriting Interview

When I started this blog, I had a couple of things that I wanted to do.  I was very interested in interviewing people outside of my pretty wide circle of musical friends and outside of my “comfortable” styles of music.  I also wanted to interview people that did only lyrics. I’ve played Keyboard on sessions with Lee Greenwood, Richie McDonald (Lonestar), Brooks and Dunn, Delbert McClinton and Red Steagall yet my connection to Country music is pretty minimal.  This really is my loss.  A lot of the great story tellers have, are and will be writing stories in Nashville.  I was really happy when Brent Baxter agreed to an interview. He’s an established Nashville lyricist and has a great blog on songwriting.

Brent Baxter

Current City or Home Town: From Batesville, Arkansas, now in Nashville, TN
Publishing Company: Cowboy Chords Music (ASCAP) (self-published)
Most recent release/songs placed:

“Crickets” on Joe Nichols (RedBow Records)

“When Your Lips Are So Close” on Gord Bamford (Sony Canada)

“Nights Like You” on Gord Bamford (Sony Canada)

Brent Baxter grew up writing short stories in his small hometown of Batesville, Arkansas.  However, it wasn’t until his sophomore year at Arkansas State University that he first discovered songwriting.  Back home over Christmas break, a friend put a melody to a poem Brent had written, and he was hooked.

Brent sharpened his songwriting skills while earning both a bachelor and masters degree in business (MBA).  During that time, he was also active in his local NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) chapter.  Following college, he joined the local songwriting community while working his day job in Little Rock, Arkansas.  In March of 2002, Brent traded his cubicle for a rented room in Nashville.  When he wasn’t waiting tables or working in the royalty/administration department of Bluewater Music, he was writing songs and meeting with publishers.

Brent’s first cut came in early 2004, as “Monday Morning Church” was recorded by Alan Jackson.  The song went on to become a top five hit, honored as one of NSAI’s ten “Songs I Wish I’d Written.”  In early 2005, Brent signed his first publishing deal, becoming a staff songwriter for Major Bob Music.  That deal yielded cuts by Lady Antebellum, Randy Travis, and Lonestar, among others.

In 2009 and 2010, Brent wrote for a joint venture of Peer Music and RPM Music.  That deal yielded cuts by Joe Nichols, Ray Stevens, Charles Billingsley, Randy Kohrs and others.

From 2010 through 2012, Brent was the flagship writer for Infinity Music Group.  This deal yielded cuts by Canadian star Gord Bamford, as well as comedy legend Ray Stevens, blues guitar legend Steve Cropper, Andy Griggs, Buddy Jewell, and new Curb artist, Ruth Collins, among others.

Brent currently writes for his own publishing company, Cowboy Chords Music, and is active writing and pitching his songs.  His music and his blog, “Man vs. Row” can be found at

OSW: “Monday Morning Church” was your first hit.  Tell us how that story came about and how it got to Alan Jackson.
Brent Baxter: I got the phrase “as empty as a Monday Morning Church” from a poem my mom wrote.  She was an English teacher and wrote a poem as an example for her class.  It mentions an empty school parking lot, and that’s where the line came from.  I took that nugget and constructed a different story around it.  Eventually, I got the lyric to Erin Enderlin, who was also from Arkansas but was going to school outside of Nashville (I was still living in Arkansas at the time).  She wrote a great melody and we polished the lyric.  She got it to a publisher who played it for Alan Jackson’s producer.  It happened kinda the way you think it should, but rarely does.

OSW: For those musicians who may not be familiar with the role.  How does the position of “Staff Writer” work as far as work assignments and how you get compensated?
Brent Baxter: In the simplest terms, a staffwriting deal is when a publisher says to a writer, “I’ll advance you “X” dollars per month in exchange for the copyright on everything you write during our deal.”  The deal will last for 1 year plus 1 or 2 more, at the publisher’s discretion.  In exchange, the publisher will pitch the writer’s songs and cover their demo expenses.  The publisher often provides a writing room.  If they get cuts, the publisher gets his money back first.  Afterwards, they split the money with the writer.  Whew!  More specifically to your question, the writer assigns the copyright over to the publisher, so the publisher owns all of the writer’s share of the publishing (unless you have enough negotiating power to get co-publishing).  The writer is compensated by an advance, or draw, then by any royalties due him outside of the publisher’s recoupment.

OSW: You moved to Nashville with no job and no friends that were staff writers, right? Would you recommend that approach to young writers?
Brent Baxter: Well, I never recommend that anyone move to Nashville, and I never recommend that anyone move home.  I can’t see into their future.  Everyone has his or her own journey.  But the move worked well for me.  I had some family I could stay with cheap and I got a couple part-time jobs.  Of course, I would have loved to have had several contacts in the biz when I moved here (I knew one publisher).  But you don’t get to chose where you start.  You can only choose when to begin.  I recommend getting started now, with whatever the next step is for you.

OSW: Do you sing or play an instrument? If not, do you think it would change your writing if you did?
Brent Baxter: No, I don’t sing, and I haven’t strummed a guitar in years.  I’m strictly a lyricist.  Having those other skills surely would’ve changed how I write and what I write.  I’ve heard it said that your limitations define your style, and that’s sure true of me.  I’m sure I wouldn’t be as good of a lyricist if I could write strong melodies.  But what would that trade-off be?  It’s better to be great at one thing than to be mediocre at several- at least if you want to monetize your songwriting.

OSW: What are you able to see in storylines/lyrics that a writer who focuses on the music side might miss?
Brent Baxter: Well, there are a bunch of writers in town that are great at both- I wish I were one.  But being a lyricist can work to the song’s advantage because I don’t get distracted by how well a bad line sings.  Being a lyricist, I take ownership and focus on the lyric.  While my cowriter might be working on a chord change, I’m afforded the opportunity to really think about the idea/lyric.

OSW: Do you read a lot? If so, which books have really connected with you?
Brent Baxter: I read as much as I have time, which isn’t much, unfortunately.  I mostly read nonfiction.  Christian books, political / economic stuff like Thomas Sowell, or business / entrepreneurship books.  So, a lot of stuff that feeds the other parts of my brain.  I high recommend “The Power Of Less” by Leo Babauta and “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss for writers trying to use their time as effectively as possible.

OSW: Do you ever write lyrics with a specific singer in mind?
Brent Baxter: Sure, I do.  I’m blessed to write with some artists with record deals, so I certainly have their voices in mind.  Other times, I might be writing specifically for an artist’s project, though not WITH the artist.  For example, my brother-in-law used to write at Ray Stevens Music.  Ray is a comedy legend and was working on a record, so we wrote some songs specifically for him.  Some, he cut, some he didn’t.  But usually, if I’m writing with another writer outside of a specific camp, we try to aim at the market in general.

OSW:  I see on your blog that you do songwriting mentorship sessions. What does that involve and how would an interested writer go about setting that up with you?
Brent Baxter: It’s easy.  There’s a link on my blog that says, “Schedule A Mentoring Session,” and it gives you all the relevant info.  I do phone, Skype, or in-person.  I enjoy it, but I keep the spots very limited because my mentoring comes out of my family time- nights and weekends.  So I only do two or so a month.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Brent Baxter: My son, Ozark.  Musically, “Monday Morning Church” has been my biggest success.  Can I use the word “thankful” instead?  I’m thankful for “Monday Morning Church.”  And I’m very thankful that I’ve somehow (praise God) been able to get cuts and get a publishing deal or three.  And I got to write a song with Randy Travis once.  That was amazing.

OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Brent Baxter: Man, there are so many lyrics and lines I love for different reasons.  Check out Chris Knight- great storyteller.  Bob McDill for “Good ‘Ol Boys Like Me.”  I love storytelling stuff, though I don’t write it much these days- ‘cuz they don’t cut ‘em very often.

OSW: What advice would you give to a young lyricist?
Brent Baxter: Read my blog!  Other than that… Do not sacrifice melody for your lyric.  Your lyrics MUST sing well.  Don’t get stuck writing the stuff you loved on the radio 10 years ago- the market shifts.  Be bold.  Better to be too real and go too far than to be too vanilla.  If all you ever bring is vanilla, why should they want yours?

OSW: If you could have written a song for any album what would it have been?
Brent Baxter: Something on Garth Brook’s NEXT record.  Hey, you have to keep looking forward.  But if I have to reach back, how about something on Garth’s “Ropin’ The Wind” or Jimmy Buffett’s “Songs You Know By Heart.”  I’ve played those albums a bazillion times.

OSW: If you could go back and write a song to be sung by any singer, who would it be and why?
Brent Baxter: Elvis, ‘cuz he’s the king.  Or Johnny Cash ‘cuz he was the prophet.  Could they do a duet?  I’d have to write something gospel for that!

Brent Baxter on the Web
Songwriting Blog
Music Page
LinkedIn Group: Man vs. Row


“Monday Morning Church” by Alan Jackson

“When Pink Is Just A Color Again” by Kal Hourd.

Video that Brent Likes
Lane Turner “Where’s The Sunset” – Brent,  “‘Cuz I’m in it for about 3 seconds!”

Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words


Andrew Belle


Andrew Belle

It’s amazing to see musicians come together to support each other and create something. I’m so impressed with the people that developed and continued to support both The Hotel Cafe Tour and Ten Out Of Tenn.  They’ve both developed into recognizable brands that; bring people to shows, help to sell the artists music and merchandise, guarantee high quality and have inspired people to make films;

Map The Music
Any Day Now

My son and I saw Andrew Belle in the Fall of 2009 on one of his early shows with Ten Out Of Tenn. I know a lot of the musicians who were on the tour and we even hung out with KS Rhoads and Butterfly Boucher before the show. I knew Andrew was the new guy but had heard great things.  We were both blown away by Andrew’s voice and songs.  I’m thrilled to see the success he’s had since then and really look forward to his upcoming album. So, I’m happy to share this songwriting discussion with Andrew Belle.

Home Town/Current City: 
Chicago, IL/Nashville, TN
Record Label: 1L Music / Elm City Music
Recent Release: ‘Black Bear’ (August 20, 2013)

OSW; What is your songwriting/composing process?
Andrew Belle; My approach is a little different than most songwriters, I think. I don’t write very often. So far there have been 2-3 major seasons where I get really inspired, write 10-12 songs, and then exhaust myself so much in the process of making them meaningful and unique, that I don’t make another attempt for a year or two. It’s sort of sporadic and bizarre, so that’s typically why I am so bent on making the most of every syllable I write down. My process for this last record was: sit down at the keyboard, find some fun sounds on logic pro, play around until I have a cool chord progression, and then crank up the reverb on my mic and start mumbling crazy melodies until something sticks. I usually find my melodies in falsetto (because it’s easier for me to explore up there) and then I end up having to work them back down to my normal singing range. Although sometimes I leave them up there or find way to re-incorporate them in order to keep things interesting.

OSW; What are you most proud of?
Andrew Belle; I’m asked this now and again and I usually sit and try to think of all of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with over the past few years and really I’m just proud that I’m able to make music that I enjoy and support my family out of that. But even that I can’t take full credit for – any talent, opportunities, or even passion to create that I have, exists because God has allowed it to be set into motion.

OSW; Ten out of Tenn has developed into such a great musical movement. Such great musicians and the people I know personally are just wonderful. How did that develop and who started it?
Andrew Belle; TOT was started by Trent Dabbs and his wife Kristen some years back, as a way to showcase the young, up & coming talent that was being made in Nashville. I saw them on a whim in Chicago when they came through on their first big tour in 2008 and was totally blown away. I left the venue that night thinking that I would give anything to be a part of such a stellar lineup. The following year, I moved to Nashville to make my record ‘The Ladder’, and was soon after asked to be a part of a new TOT lineup that was being organized for a tour later that fall. We ended up doing two tours that year and a 3rd in 2011. It’s been such a privilege and an honor to be a part of such an accomplished and talented group of people.

OSW; What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Andrew Belle; I don’t know if I have a favorite – but this was one of the first lyrics that ever meant anything to me:

The smell of hospitals in winter

And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls

All at once you look across a crowded room

To see the way that light attaches to a girl

“A Long December” – Counting Crows

OSW; What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Andrew Belle; Find the first song that ever made you feel an emotion; the songs that led you to fall in love with music in the first place. Study it until you understand what it was that resonated with you; then chase that feeling in your own music, and don’t settle for anything less.

OSW; If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Andrew Belle; Jesse Lacey. His approach to lyrics and melodies were what drove me to songwriting for myself.

OSW; Do you have anything new releasing soon?
Andrew Belle; My new album, Black Bear, releases on August 20th, 2013.

Andrew Belle On The Web

Bonus Materials

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Come back on Wednesday for an interview with Peter Broderick and on Friday when we share the interview with Sharon Van Etten.  Thanks for reading to the end!! You rock.

Golden Youth


Golden Youth

A great song works in any setting, even with just a singer and some strummed Guitar chords. This has come up in several of the interviews already and, no doubt, will come up again.  It is true.  Even in the most simplest setting, a great song will communicate and connect with listeners.  Now having said that, there is something magical about finding the right sonic landscape for a song to live in. The right singer telling the story with a great orchestration is magical.  It doesn’t have to be a lot of instruments.  But, it has to be the right instruments playing the right parts to push that story ahead, to emphasize the correct places.  While every song works in a simple setting, each song also has a sonic soundscape (or maybe a couple, check out the cover tune series at ). The first song my son and I heard by Golden Youth was “Brother In The Morning Light”.  It’s a magical sound that instantly transports you somewhere.  We both immediately wanted to know who this group was. I immediately requested an interview, which I’m thrilled to share with all of you.

Names: Kyle Monroe & Stephanie Lauren
Current City: Just moved to Nashville, TN
Record Label: Slospeak Records
Most recent release: Quiet Frame ; Wild Light”
Band line-up:
Kyle – Guitar, Vocals, many other instruments
Steph – Vocals, Piano, many other instruments

Brief Intro/Bio:
Kyle: Sometimes it can be so strange just to talk a bit about yourself. I am 26. I’ve played
a lot of music with different people over the years and can honestly say this venture has
been the most rewarding. After college, I started engineering/producing bands and I’m
glad I did, because that’s how i came in contact with Stephanie again. She came to my studio and we hit off.

What is your songwriting/composing process?
Kyle: I am not sure exactly what it is. I generally go by the thought of… If it’s working, go with it.  Sometimes, it is in a room by yourself with one instrument. Sometimes, it is with the whole band just brainstorming together. Recently it has been sitting in college lecture halls (where I won’t be noticed) and writing lyrics. Something about a monotone teacher keeps me focused on writing.

What are you most proud of?
Kyle: I would have to say my bandmates. Steph, Jesse and Steven are such talented musicians. Its really been great to just enjoy their playing and their personalities. If I’ve learned one thing from playing in bands, it is the importance of playing music with friends and being happy with what you are doing. I don’t think I’ve had a bad experience with our little group…. bunch of nerds. haha.

Musically, I would have to say the orchestral arrangements on our little record. It was so fun to be able to use my education (in composing/conducting) on music that i had been a part of. Writing sheet music and making sense of the songs instead of just guessing is my favorite part of writing.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Of my own… I like it just because it sums up what i like to write about.
Life is often sad, and I think those are the best subjects because we all go through it.

“I know that you feel the same way sometimes.The idea of me seems better than i really am”

In general…
“Why don’t we stop fooling ourselves? The game is over, Over, Over.  No good times, no bad times, There’s no times at all, Just The New York Times”
-Paul Simon

If you could sit down and talk songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
I think sitting down with Sam Beam of Iron and Wine would be such an interesting conversation. He is one of those artist that has really reached a lot of people through so many windows of his writing.

From the first album being a hissy, lower quality recording, yet being able to create something so original  and groundbreaking. And now being able to do the same thing with his large band, big studio recordings.

It just proves that a good songwriter can connect with a listener no matter how the song is presented. I’ve always thought that a great song is great whether its played with a full band, symphony, acoustic or even a Capella. I think he has captured that and i would love to pick his band on how he approaches each song. whether it is deliberate or its just something that comes out of him without control.

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Be inspired. Don’t replicate.

Music is inspiring. There is no doubt about it. I can’t help but want to song write after listening to Simon and Garfunkel. There maybe a hint of inspiration from them, but it doesn’t mean I am trying to create songs that could have been theirs. Let other artists write their music and you write yours.

If it’s honest, people will be on board.

Golden Youth on the Web

Bonus Materials
To view Golden Youth’s selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

All interviews and Bonus Materials will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

I truly appreciate everyone that has stopped by, talked about this blog and/or shared with friends. Please continue to share this page and site with fellow music lovers. Next time you’re out at a venue watching music, ask the performer(s) about songwriting, music, lyrics etc. You’ll enjoy it.





Levi Weaver


Levi Weaver

I want to introduce you to Levi Weaver. Levi and I have several mutual friends.  I had heard about him for a while. I was so moved when I finally saw him at Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas that I wrote a song based around the layers of things he builds using the looping pedal at his live performances.  We will also be forever connected by a late night at SXSW involving a silent disco in an enchanted forest.  If you ever run into either of us, ask us about that story.

Name- Levi Weaver
Current City- Nashville, TN
Label- None yet
Most recent release- Last Official release was “I Am Only a Tiny Noise”, in Spring of 2012

Brief introduction
Hi, my name is Levi Weaver. I get uncomfortable in rooms with lots of people unless they’re all looking at me, and I don’t know the answer to “what kind of music do you make?” but I get asked that all the time. Someone once told me I should answer that I make soundtracks to existential crises, but I also like making friends, so I’ve kept that one mostly holstered.

What is your songwriting process?
Step one: get sad or think about eternity and space and what it means to be a self-aware being
Step two: songs

(This really is the only consistency in my method, everything else is kind of chaos)

What are you most proud of?
Today, my son was in the kitchen humming Daft Punk (WHERE DID HE HEAR THAT) and then sang these words: “We walk on accident sun, We walk on accident sun, We walk on accident sun, We walk on Mexican ducky”. I’ll never top that. He’s half me, and still manages to be awesome, so until three weeks ago, he was what I was most proud of, but UPDATE: it’s now a tie, though Holland(3 week old)’s stories mostly involve poop, and that’s not a good interview answer.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
*shuffles papers, spins chair, adjusts glasses, clears throat*

We walk on accident sun, We walk on accide

Kidding. Honestly, though – I could give you an entire book of lyrics that I love, but to pick one favorite is an impossible task, so I’ll give you two new ones I discovered within the last month:
1. David Ramirez, The Forgiven: “You’re just a songwriter, you ain’t a preacher. We came to mourn you, not to look in the mirror. Sing about those hard times, sing about those women. We love the broken, not the forgiven.”

2. Casey Black, Fire, Fire, Fire: “This all began when someone liked a piece of land and thought to make a border. This all began when someone said ‘Hey man, don’t blame me, I’m only following orders’. This all began when someone said ‘We are we, and they are they, and we are normal’. This all began when someone said ‘Hey, do you disagree?’ and someone else said ‘yeah… sorta’.”

What advice would you give to young songwriters?
The best advice I ever got about songwriting didn’t come from another songwriter, it came from a comedian (I wish I could remember who), who said (I’m paraphrasing), “it takes ten years to find your voice. You’ll struggle, and you’ll accidentally copy other people, and you’ll be really awful at first, and then somewhere around ten years, you’ll discover your voice, and by then – if you’ve been plugging away, and practicing, you’ll be ready.”

I don’t think it necessarily takes that long with songwriters, but it does take a long time. You really are going to be pretty awful for awhile, even if you have a great voice and even if you’re a good writer, unless you’re some kind of savant. Don’t get discouraged by that. I’ve never understood how in every other profession, you go to school and then do an internship, and then after years and years, you become an expert, but in the arts, people act like they should be Paul McCartney by the time they’re twenty. It’s a skill, just like anything else, albeit one that is intensely personal and vulnerable.

All (ALL. I am not exaggerating about this) all of my favorite singer-songwriters that I’ve ever talked to are absolutely riddled with self-doubt. Embrace that early. If you know ahead of time that you’re not going to be good and you have no choice but to play and write and sing anyway, in spite of the nerves, in spite of the discomfort and embarrassment and social anxiety, just because it’s just in you and HAS to get out, then you’re in the right game. Knowing it ahead of time sorta braces you against crushing disappointment right out of the gates, too.

Levi on the Web
and most importantly, Levi is nearing the end of a fan funded drive to complete his next album.  Please be a part of this process if you can and share with any other music loving friends. Here is the link:

Oh and….. there’s a lovely post about Levi that our friends at Music is My First Language did a couple of years back.  You should stop by and read that too, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Bonus Materials

To view Levi’s selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

All interviews and Bonus Materials will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

I truly appreciate everyone that has stopped by, talked about this blog and/or shared with friends. Please continue to share this page and site with fellow music lovers.

See you back soon,