Think about your favorite songs. What excites you most: the melodies, the lyrics, or the choruses perhaps? How often do you listen to them? Can remember lyrics from said faves, but may not remember for what or why you entered the last room? Lol, if you’re anything like me, you can remember verses easily from childhood through adulthood, and can rattle off the singers’ names with as much ease. But how many of you can readily name the writers of your favorite songs, especially if they’re not the same as the person singing?
The recently released, Chusy (Anywhere USA) directed documentary IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER explores the journeys and backstories of several famed and accomplished songwriters – some whose names you may not know, but you definitely know the hits they’ve written.
It also gives the audience insight into the supportive Nashville community that nurtures musicians/artists and highlights local spots like The Bluebird Cafe – one of the first places to give many artists their break and serve as a launching pad for their careers.
Filled with candid interviews – including Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks, Kacey Musgraves, and Kelsea Ballerini – intimate performances and entertaining anecdotes, the documentary is not only entertaining, but a highly encouraging piece for creatives seeking first-hand advice.
One highlight is a story shared by Jonathan Cain, legendary writer, singer, musician from the band Journey, in which he describes the band’s hit song Don’t Stop Believing being inspired by a moment he shared with his father – who said the famous title while encouraging his son to continue working towards his dream.
Others include the original writing session for “Try” by Pink, songwriter Busbee woke up with the chorus in his head, and watching singer/songwriter Andrew Combs create a beautiful song draft in 10 and 1/2 minutes after selecting five random lyrics during an impromptu exercise.
I also enjoyed listening to several of my favorite writers/producers – including Claude Kelly whose hits include personal faves Tears of Joy by Faith Evans, Blame It On Me by Chrisette Michelle and Bittersweet by Fantasia, as well as Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus and For Your Entertainment by Adam Lambert.
And it was nice watching noted producer/songwriter Shannon Sanders share his experiences in the film. Sidenote: Sanders and I share a close mutual friend, who introduced us while he was on tour as musical director with India.Arie. We all had dinner and he revealed that during the studio session for the tune Good Mourning, which opens with the sound of someone writing, Ms. Arie had recently ended a relationship and wasn’t fully herself. Sanders suggested she write down her thoughts to get things off of her chest, he recorded her writing, and the rest is musical history!
The film’s icing on the cake was one of its final segments where songwriter Connie Hampton (Lee Brice, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire) shared how one of her most famous songs, I Drove Your Truck by Lee Brice, was inspired by a caller from a talk radio program. She and and co-writer Jessi Alexander then visit the caller – whose son was killed in service and whose truck he still drives – and Alexander gives an a cappella performance, an emotional highlight.
“It All Begins With A Song” is an enjoyable snapshot of several artists and writers who’ve created joy and timeless memories globally through one of the most treasured art forms – music. In the words of singer/songwriter Brad Paisley, “We’re more connected than we all think.” A wonderful sentiment in this current state of global uncertainty.
I rate it 4.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER is out now on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, FlixFling, Vimeo on Demand, and Vudu. Get additional information at the official website here.
Until next thought, Thomasena