Using REALITY, writing "Life's Little Twists and Turns" with Artist Breanna Faith

  USING REALITY 
by MARC-ALAN BARNETTE 

Hello folks, hope everyone is weathering the ongoing challenges of life. Between Covid, snowstorms, lockdowns, and even in Nashville, a Christmas day bombing, there has been a lot going on, and not a lot of it good. But like always, life goes on. For me, it is the opportunities to work with younger artists and writers, who are trying to find their way on their musical journey. Above I explained my approach and how it worked with one person, Frankie Ballard, to help him achieve his goal of National success. That was a while back, and I recently started working with a new 19 year-old female, and since she was just here the past two days from her home in Indiana, I thought I would relay something we just did that might illustrate how I try to utilize the reality of a situation, add some personal experiences, and also MAKE STUFF UP! Never let the facts stop a good story. If you don't mind, I'll go through the process we went through to get to the point. Hopefully it might help you in your own efforts. 

The artist, is a 19 year old female from Indianapolis. Her name is Breanna Faith, I have worked with her three times before, but mostly critiquing songs she has had. This is the third song we have written together. She comes to Nashville about every 5 weeks along with her father, a construction supervisor for a multi-National company. He does business while coming to Nashville with his daughter. They are both very nice, intelligent, inquisitive and are far from the "stars in their eyes" effect that most of the people who come to this town have. Her father, John, is also a coach of a travel baseball team of 17-19 year old's trying to make stabs at college and the pros. So he see's many of the parallels between sports and music. They are very similar. 

In this occasion, I had gone through several songs of Breanna's which are very much what you would expect from a 19 year old girl, BOYS, BOYS, BOYS, as most of her age group does. A problem with younger people is the lack of life experiences and with women selling less product, merchandise and income as male artists, it is always a challenge of finding "something else: to write about. That was the point of this day's exercise. How do you identify subject matter, how do you find hooks, include details, avoid second verse hell, and find a way to wrap  a story up where the listener can see it in their mind's eye, feel a front row seat to the action and get the entire story in around three and a half minutes. In it I am always trying to achieve two responses from listeners: 
  
#1.YOU ARE WRITING MY LIFE! (SOMETHING THEY THEMSELVES ARE GOING THROUGH PERSONALLY OR HAVE GONE THROUGH OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS) 
#2. YOU ARE WRITING MY LIFE AND I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT LIKE THAT! (Using a "twist on a tale, and describing a story they might not have seen coming) 

I generally will have the participant give me some details about what they are going through in their life. Many times these are just random thoughts, emotions, or things they don't realize could be a song, they are just life from their point of view. On a previous trip, I had instructed her to write down details of her life, things she was going through, things she saw, experienced, etc. She had done this and gave a nice start. 

On this day, she started out with how they had begun their trip to Nashville. It is a little over four hours down here from Indy, and this particular day had started out with road construction, traffic, detours, and some really challenging events that held them up on their time, She had written down ideas about the detours, road signs, having to go ways they had not gone before, and trying to find the best way to stay on a time frame. She also mentioned about her week last week. She works at a Cheesecake factory restaurant and last week as you might know, the Midwest South, southeast were paralyzed by huge snow storms, which shut down most of our worlds. Her restaurant actually had stayed open, and she was one of the few employees that could make it to work. They actually did pretty good business,  as all other restaurants and bars, they were THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN.  

So it was from here that I started. When I write with these people, I take notes on things they say, experiences they have and write from the first line down. I shoot for a verse and chorus, with a defined hook, which describes and encapsulates what the song is actually about. It is the most important thought, and is the singalong hook that hopefully audiences will remember. I don't touch my guitar at this point and write from the first line down. I usually have a bit of a feel or melody going on in my head that I try to find a pattern on, and most of the time it works. I gather this from listening to their other songs and attempt to find things they have not done yet in order to give them a different feel and type of a song. I felt she needed a mid-tempo story song, something you might hear a James Taylor, or today's artists like Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, or Kacey Musgraves might do. This is the story I constructed. 

I decided to create a scene where it is a huge snowstorm, closing roads and many businesses. (again, not much of a stretch as we just went through that.) I put her as she was, as a waitress in the only place open. But I put her in the place alone with one customer, a weather-beaten man, who seemed to like to talk. The idea was to present this as a guy you might think could be homeless or just someone who is getting in this place to keep warm. I wanted him to be non-threatening, and to describe the experience as one of learning life lessons. For some reason I seized upon a thought for a hook, "LIFE'S LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS." This was to incorporate the experience she had that day, roads being closed, finding a different way to work, and the possibilities she might encounter. Here was the first verse and chorus: 
  
                              LIFES LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS 
                              MAB/BREANNA FAITH 
                                                  2-24-21 
  
3 feet of snow outside, couldn’t miss those road signs 
Had to take a different route than usual 
Every other store was closed, but we were open through the storm 
So I had to work even though I didn’t want to 
        Only people in the place were me and him 
        Warmed up his second cup of coffee said here’s a little tip 
  
                       CHORUS 
        LIFE’S LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS 
        NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU WILL LEARN 
        CAN’T TELL WHERE YOU’LL END UP NEXT 
        THE THING THAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR 
        YOU NEVER DID EXPECT 
        IT’S THE LESSONS OF LIFE YOU GOTTA LEARN 
        THAT COMES WITH LIFES LITTLE TWIST TURNS 

That was the first verse and chorus. I wanted to describe the details of HOW they both got there, and his comments over coffee in the form of "giving advice" to this young girl, who was obviously upset having to come in when it was so bad outside. The "Little Twists and Turns" are meant to describe both the physical challenges of getting to work, but also the "twists and turns" that life gives you that you never know where they end up. Something that most of us experience in one way or another most of our lives. Now for the second verse, l wanted to hone in on describing the man, and some details that might explain who these characters are: 
  
He had a weathered face, clothes had seen their better days 
Wondered how long since he’d had his last meal 
Told stories of his history, He kept talking I kept listening. 
Seems he’d had millions of miles beneath his heels 
        Said I’ve seen life, from the bottom looking up 
        Never know who you will meet over the next coffee cup 
  
                                      Chorus 

So now, I had reached a place which had gotten us into the scene, described the weather the two characters, the winding way that they have ended up together on a very dismal day. Now was time for the "twist on the tale" which is taking the story to a conclusion most people might have not seen coming: 
                                                  Bridge 
  
        Then like a wisp of smoke, he disappeared into the night 
        For a twenty dollar meal, He’d left a thousand bucks behind 

This was something I took directly from real life that we have seen happening all through the COVID-19 shut downs. There are tons of stories of someone coming to a restaurant, convenience store, feeling a "pay it forward" effect, and leaving a large tip, paying someone else's bills, groceries, gas, etc, or doing some random act of kindness that helps someone they don't know.  

So that was the song. I played the first verse and chorus for Breanna, and she really liked it. So I went on to the second verse also including some of the details she had given me from her own experiences. The twist was something that just occurred to me that I've read about, and actually have seen happen and done myself on occasion. So it all seemed to fit. She liked it very much, as did her Father, and after a while of testing it out, finding a key that worked for her vocal range, she sat about bringing it to life in her voice. In a couple of hours, we had a new song that she is planning on performing on an upcoming FACEBOOK LIVE show she will be doing in the not-too-distant future. As we write more songs we'll continue to review it and others and at some point, probably go into the studio to record the best of them. As she gets comfortable and makes it her own, I think it will be song that serves her well. At least I hope.  

So, that is a way that I personally attempt to demonstrate my own writing style and process. I hope you might find it interesting. As it progresses, and if and when we get a recording, I will probably post it in some format.  
Thanks for letting me post. Good luck to you all and stay safe. 

MAB

  USING REALITY 
by MARC-ALAN BARNETTE 

Hello folks, hope everyone is weathering the ongoing challenges of life. Between Covid, snowstorms, lockdowns, and even in Nashville, a Christmas day bombing, there has been a lot going on, and not a lot of it good. But like always, life goes on. For me, it is the opportunities to work with younger artists and writers, who are trying to find their way on their musical journey. Above I explained my approach and how it worked with one person, Frankie Ballard, to help him achieve his goal of National success. That was a while back, and I recently started working with a new 19 year-old female, and since she was just here the past two days from her home in Indiana, I thought I would relay something we just did that might illustrate how I try to utilize the reality of a situation, add some personal experiences, and also MAKE STUFF UP! Never let the facts stop a good story. If you don't mind, I'll go through the process we went through to get to the point. Hopefully it might help you in your own efforts. 

The artist, is a 19 year old female from Indianapolis. Her name is Breanna Faith, I have worked with her three times before, but mostly critiquing songs she has had. This is the third song we have written together. She comes to Nashville about every 5 weeks along with her father, a construction supervisor for a multi-National company. He does business while coming to Nashville with his daughter. They are both very nice, intelligent, inquisitive and are far from the "stars in their eyes" effect that most of the people who come to this town have. Her father, John, is also a coach of a travel baseball team of 17-19 year old's trying to make stabs at college and the pros. So he see's many of the parallels between sports and music. They are very similar. 

In this occasion, I had gone through several songs of Breanna's which are very much what you would expect from a 19 year old girl, BOYS, BOYS, BOYS, as most of her age group does. A problem with younger people is the lack of life experiences and with women selling less product, merchandise and income as male artists, it is always a challenge of finding "something else: to write about. That was the point of this day's exercise. How do you identify subject matter, how do you find hooks, include details, avoid second verse hell, and find a way to wrap  a story up where the listener can see it in their mind's eye, feel a front row seat to the action and get the entire story in around three and a half minutes. In it I am always trying to achieve two responses from listeners: 
  
#1.YOU ARE WRITING MY LIFE! (SOMETHING THEY THEMSELVES ARE GOING THROUGH PERSONALLY OR HAVE GONE THROUGH OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS) 
#2. YOU ARE WRITING MY LIFE AND I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT LIKE THAT! (Using a "twist on a tale, and describing a story they might not have seen coming) 

I generally will have the participant give me some details about what they are going through in their life. Many times these are just random thoughts, emotions, or things they don't realize could be a song, they are just life from their point of view. On a previous trip, I had instructed her to write down details of her life, things she was going through, things she saw, experienced, etc. She had done this and gave a nice start. 

On this day, she started out with how they had begun their trip to Nashville. It is a little over four hours down here from Indy, and this particular day had started out with road construction, traffic, detours, and some really challenging events that held them up on their time, She had written down ideas about the detours, road signs, having to go ways they had not gone before, and trying to find the best way to stay on a time frame. She also mentioned about her week last week. She works at a Cheesecake factory restaurant and last week as you might know, the Midwest South, southeast were paralyzed by huge snow storms, which shut down most of our worlds. Her restaurant actually had stayed open, and she was one of the few employees that could make it to work. They actually did pretty good business,  as all other restaurants and bars, they were THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN.  

So it was from here that I started. When I write with these people, I take notes on things they say, experiences they have and write from the first line down. I shoot for a verse and chorus, with a defined hook, which describes and encapsulates what the song is actually about. It is the most important thought, and is the singalong hook that hopefully audiences will remember. I don't touch my guitar at this point and write from the first line down. I usually have a bit of a feel or melody going on in my head that I try to find a pattern on, and most of the time it works. I gather this from listening to their other songs and attempt to find things they have not done yet in order to give them a different feel and type of a song. I felt she needed a mid-tempo story song, something you might hear a James Taylor, or today's artists like Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, or Kacey Musgraves might do. This is the story I constructed. 

I decided to create a scene where it is a huge snowstorm, closing roads and many businesses. (again, not much of a stretch as we just went through that.) I put her as she was, as a waitress in the only place open. But I put her in the place alone with one customer, a weather-beaten man, who seemed to like to talk. The idea was to present this as a guy you might think could be homeless or just someone who is getting in this place to keep warm. I wanted him to be non-threatening, and to describe the experience as one of learning life lessons. For some reason I seized upon a thought for a hook, "LIFE'S LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS." This was to incorporate the experience she had that day, roads being closed, finding a different way to work, and the possibilities she might encounter. Here was the first verse and chorus: 
  
                              LIFES LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS 
                              MAB/BREANNA FAITH 
                                                  2-24-21 
  
3 feet of snow outside, couldn’t miss those road signs 
Had to take a different route than usual 
Every other store was closed, but we were open through the storm 
So I had to work even though I didn’t want to 
        Only people in the place were me and him 
        Warmed up his second cup of coffee said here’s a little tip 
  
                       CHORUS 
        LIFE’S LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS 
        NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU WILL LEARN 
        CAN’T TELL WHERE YOU’LL END UP NEXT 
        THE THING THAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR 
        YOU NEVER DID EXPECT 
        IT’S THE LESSONS OF LIFE YOU GOTTA LEARN 
        THAT COMES WITH LIFES LITTLE TWIST TURNS 

That was the first verse and chorus. I wanted to describe the details of HOW they both got there, and his comments over coffee in the form of "giving advice" to this young girl, who was obviously upset having to come in when it was so bad outside. The "Little Twists and Turns" are meant to describe both the physical challenges of getting to work, but also the "twists and turns" that life gives you that you never know where they end up. Something that most of us experience in one way or another most of our lives. Now for the second verse, l wanted to hone in on describing the man, and some details that might explain who these characters are: 
  
He had a weathered face, clothes had seen their better days 
Wondered how long since he’d had his last meal 
Told stories of his history, He kept talking I kept listening. 
Seems he’d had millions of miles beneath his heels 
        Said I’ve seen life, from the bottom looking up 
        Never know who you will meet over the next coffee cup 
  
                                      Chorus 

So now, I had reached a place which had gotten us into the scene, described the weather the two characters, the winding way that they have ended up together on a very dismal day. Now was time for the "twist on the tale" which is taking the story to a conclusion most people might have not seen coming: 
                                                  Bridge 
  
        Then like a wisp of smoke, he disappeared into the night 
        For a twenty dollar meal, He’d left a thousand bucks behind 

This was something I took directly from real life that we have seen happening all through the COVID-19 shut downs. There are tons of stories of someone coming to a restaurant, convenience store, feeling a "pay it forward" effect, and leaving a large tip, paying someone else's bills, groceries, gas, etc, or doing some random act of kindness that helps someone they don't know.  

So that was the song. I played the first verse and chorus for Breanna, and she really liked it. So I went on to the second verse also including some of the details she had given me from her own experiences. The twist was something that just occurred to me that I've read about, and actually have seen happen and done myself on occasion. So it all seemed to fit. She liked it very much, as did her Father, and after a while of testing it out, finding a key that worked for her vocal range, she sat about bringing it to life in her voice. In a couple of hours, we had a new song that she is planning on performing on an upcoming FACEBOOK LIVE show she will be doing in the not-too-distant future. As we write more songs we'll continue to review it and others and at some point, probably go into the studio to record the best of them. As she gets comfortable and makes it her own, I think it will be song that serves her well. At least I hope.  

So, that is a way that I personally attempt to demonstrate my own writing style and process. I hope you might find it interesting. As it progresses, and if and when we get a recording, I will probably post it in some format.  
Thanks for letting me post. Good luck to you all and stay safe. 

MAB

  USING REALITY 
by MARC-ALAN BARNETTE 

Hello folks, hope everyone is weathering the ongoing challenges of life. Between Covid, snowstorms, lockdowns, and even in Nashville, a Christmas day bombing, there has been a lot going on, and not a lot of it good. But like always, life goes on. For me, it is the opportunities to work with younger artists and writers, who are trying to find their way on their musical journey. Above I explained my approach and how it worked with one person, Frankie Ballard, to help him achieve his goal of National success. That was a while back, and I recently started working with a new 19 year-old female, and since she was just here the past two days from her home in Indiana, I thought I would relay something we just did that might illustrate how I try to utilize the reality of a situation, add some personal experiences, and also MAKE STUFF UP! Never let the facts stop a good story. If you don't mind, I'll go through the process we went through to get to the point. Hopefully it might help you in your own efforts. 

The artist, is a 19 year old female from Indianapolis. Her name is Breanna Faith, I have worked with her three times before, but mostly critiquing songs she has had. This is the third song we have written together. She comes to Nashville about every 5 weeks along with her father, a construction supervisor for a multi-National company. He does business while coming to Nashville with his daughter. They are both very nice, intelligent, inquisitive and are far from the "stars in their eyes" effect that most of the people who come to this town have. Her father, John, is also a coach of a travel baseball team of 17-19 year old's trying to make stabs at college and the pros. So he see's many of the parallels between sports and music. They are very similar. 

In this occasion, I had gone through several songs of Breanna's which are very much what you would expect from a 19 year old girl, BOYS, BOYS, BOYS, as most of her age group does. A problem with younger people is the lack of life experiences and with women selling less product, merchandise and income as male artists, it is always a challenge of finding "something else: to write about. That was the point of this day's exercise. How do you identify subject matter, how do you find hooks, include details, avoid second verse hell, and find a way to wrap  a story up where the listener can see it in their mind's eye, feel a front row seat to the action and get the entire story in around three and a half minutes. In it I am always trying to achieve two responses from listeners: 
  
#1.YOU ARE WRITING MY LIFE! (SOMETHING THEY THEMSELVES ARE GOING THROUGH PERSONALLY OR HAVE GONE THROUGH OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS) 
#2. YOU ARE WRITING MY LIFE AND I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT LIKE THAT! (Using a "twist on a tale, and describing a story they might not have seen coming) 

I generally will have the participant give me some details about what they are going through in their life. Many times these are just random thoughts, emotions, or things they don't realize could be a song, they are just life from their point of view. On a previous trip, I had instructed her to write down details of her life, things she was going through, things she saw, experienced, etc. She had done this and gave a nice start. 

On this day, she started out with how they had begun their trip to Nashville. It is a little over four hours down here from Indy, and this particular day had started out with road construction, traffic, detours, and some really challenging events that held them up on their time, She had written down ideas about the detours, road signs, having to go ways they had not gone before, and trying to find the best way to stay on a time frame. She also mentioned about her week last week. She works at a Cheesecake factory restaurant and last week as you might know, the Midwest South, southeast were paralyzed by huge snow storms, which shut down most of our worlds. Her restaurant actually had stayed open, and she was one of the few employees that could make it to work. They actually did pretty good business,  as all other restaurants and bars, they were THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN.  

So it was from here that I started. When I write with these people, I take notes on things they say, experiences they have and write from the first line down. I shoot for a verse and chorus, with a defined hook, which describes and encapsulates what the song is actually about. It is the most important thought, and is the singalong hook that hopefully audiences will remember. I don't touch my guitar at this point and write from the first line down. I usually have a bit of a feel or melody going on in my head that I try to find a pattern on, and most of the time it works. I gather this from listening to their other songs and attempt to find things they have not done yet in order to give them a different feel and type of a song. I felt she needed a mid-tempo story song, something you might hear a James Taylor, or today's artists like Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, or Kacey Musgraves might do. This is the story I constructed. 

I decided to create a scene where it is a huge snowstorm, closing roads and many businesses. (again, not much of a stretch as we just went through that.) I put her as she was, as a waitress in the only place open. But I put her in the place alone with one customer, a weather-beaten man, who seemed to like to talk. The idea was to present this as a guy you might think could be homeless or just someone who is getting in this place to keep warm. I wanted him to be non-threatening, and to describe the experience as one of learning life lessons. For some reason I seized upon a thought for a hook, "LIFE'S LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS." This was to incorporate the experience she had that day, roads being closed, finding a different way to work, and the possibilities she might encounter. Here was the first verse and chorus: 
  
                              LIFES LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS 
                              MAB/BREANNA FAITH 
                                                  2-24-21 
  
3 feet of snow outside, couldn’t miss those road signs 
Had to take a different route than usual 
Every other store was closed, but we were open through the storm 
So I had to work even though I didn’t want to 
        Only people in the place were me and him 
        Warmed up his second cup of coffee said here’s a little tip 
  
                       CHORUS 
        LIFE’S LITTLE TWISTS AND TURNS 
        NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU WILL LEARN 
        CAN’T TELL WHERE YOU’LL END UP NEXT 
        THE THING THAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR 
        YOU NEVER DID EXPECT 
        IT’S THE LESSONS OF LIFE YOU GOTTA LEARN 
        THAT COMES WITH LIFES LITTLE TWIST TURNS 

That was the first verse and chorus. I wanted to describe the details of HOW they both got there, and his comments over coffee in the form of "giving advice" to this young girl, who was obviously upset having to come in when it was so bad outside. The "Little Twists and Turns" are meant to describe both the physical challenges of getting to work, but also the "twists and turns" that life gives you that you never know where they end up. Something that most of us experience in one way or another most of our lives. Now for the second verse, l wanted to hone in on describing the man, and some details that might explain who these characters are: 
  
He had a weathered face, clothes had seen their better days 
Wondered how long since he’d had his last meal 
Told stories of his history, He kept talking I kept listening. 
Seems he’d had millions of miles beneath his heels 
        Said I’ve seen life, from the bottom looking up 
        Never know who you will meet over the next coffee cup 
  
                                      Chorus 

So now, I had reached a place which had gotten us into the scene, described the weather the two characters, the winding way that they have ended up together on a very dismal day. Now was time for the "twist on the tale" which is taking the story to a conclusion most people might have not seen coming: 
                                                  Bridge 
  
        Then like a wisp of smoke, he disappeared into the night 
        For a twenty dollar meal, He’d left a thousand bucks behind 

This was something I took directly from real life that we have seen happening all through the COVID-19 shut downs. There are tons of stories of someone coming to a restaurant, convenience store, feeling a "pay it forward" effect, and leaving a large tip, paying someone else's bills, groceries, gas, etc, or doing some random act of kindness that helps someone they don't know.  

So that was the song. I played the first verse and chorus for Breanna, and she really liked it. So I went on to the second verse also including some of the details she had given me from her own experiences. The twist was something that just occurred to me that I've read about, and actually have seen happen and done myself on occasion. So it all seemed to fit. She liked it very much, as did her Father, and after a while of testing it out, finding a key that worked for her vocal range, she sat about bringing it to life in her voice. In a couple of hours, we had a new song that she is planning on performing on an upcoming FACEBOOK LIVE show she will be doing in the not-too-distant future. As we write more songs we'll continue to review it and others and at some point, probably go into the studio to record the best of them. As she gets comfortable and makes it her own, I think it will be song that serves her well. At least I hope.  

So, that is a way that I personally attempt to demonstrate my own writing style and process. I hope you might find it interesting. As it progresses, and if and when we get a recording, I will probably post it in some format.  
Thanks for letting me post. Good luck to you all and stay safe. 

MAB

 

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