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Song of the Month

“LWC Favorites” CD


Songwriting Coaching

Songwriting Workshop

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LWC song samples
Listen to 90-second streaming
clips of the following songs:

I Wanna Live Like That
lo-fi mp3
singer Cathy-Anne Whitworth from the movie A Little Inside

Between A Rock And
A Heartache
lo-fi mp3
singer Lee Greenwood
Capitol Nashville single

Heaven Only Knows
lo-fi mp3
singer Lisa Brokop
Brainchild demo

Mail Myself To Mexico
lo-fi mp3
singer Buddy Jewell
Buddy Jewell album cut

Destitute Heart
lo-fi mp3
singer Shelly Rann
Brainchild demo

Jesus Christ, JC Penney
& Johnny Cash
Clark/Jeff Walter
lo-fi mp3
singer Ray Herndon
Brainchild demo

Tennessee Rain
lo-fi mp3
singer Halie Loren
Brainchild demo

I Miss The Way We
Never Were
Clark/Tom Cunningham
lo-fi mp3
singer Dave Brooks
Brainchild demo

Lonely Texas Night
Clark/David Lloyd
lo-fi mp3
singer Paul Pace
Brainchild demo

Nothin’ Says Goodbye
Like A Train
Clark/Lauren Lucas
lo-fi mp3
singer Lauren Lucas
Brainchild acoustic demo
© 2003
All rights reserved


Thomas Edison ad
"I want to see a Phonograph in
every American Home!"
Songs. I’ve been fascinated with them as long as I can recall, their structure and variety and almost supernatural ability to electrify the senses. Top 40 hit parade songs heard on the radio; movie ballads; the themes to my favorite weekly TV westerns. Great songs and mediocre ones, and some so bad I cringe to remember them now; it really didn’t matter. All I know is that, as a kid, I always had a song going through my head — one that might unconsciously quicken my footsteps as I walked down the sidewalk or make it almost impossible for me to concentrate in class. After all, what fifth grade teacher’s pontifications could compete with the epic sweep of Marty Robbins’s “El Paso” or Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John,” the bittersweet pathos of Bobby Vee’s “Take Good Care Of My Baby” or, later on, the pulse-revving harmony magic of The Beatles singing . . . well, anything? I was hooked, badly, and I still don’t truly understand why.

Frank Sinatra
Sometime in my teens it occurred to me that somebody actually wrote these songs and, if that were so, then why couldn’t I? I filled pages with lyrics, sometimes even making up my own (rather lame) melodies, and finally learned to play a little guitar. Suddenly the rich, mysterious world of chords was opened up to me as well. In my early 20s I took some piano lessons and even taught myself enough notation to create my own painstaking leadsheets (I’m still a plodding reader at best). I loved the ’60s sounds of Phil Spector, Motown, the Mersey Beat and the Beach Boys sun-and-surf harmonies; tolerated the drug-drenched, all-day-guitar-solo excesses of acid rock; fell in love with John Prine’s cracker barrel drollness and Bruce Springsteen’s ferocious rock angst in the ’70s, and hopped eagerly aboard the New Country train of the ’80s . . . The Judds, Randy Travis, John Anderson and Dwight Yoakam. Along the way I also acquired a taste for Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby’s ’30s recordings and the suave, timeless allure of Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle’s Capitol albums of the ’50s. All this and much more.

It was in the country field, while living in Vancouver, Canada in the ’80s, that I made my first forays into “professional” songwriting, finally getting the notion out of my head that I, an inept, uncomfortable performer, was meant to sing my own songs. Why should I? The Judds weren’t writing their own songs; neither was Crystal Gayle or, for the most part, Don Williams, and that meant somebody else was. Somebody like me. A lifelong student of the Tin Pan Alley song wizards, I saw that here was a chance to follow — wobbly but determined — in their footsteps, to become a craftsman, a chameleonic tunesmith, a behind-the-scenes forger of hits for other people to sing. It was a role I relished and still do. Now I had the very thing I’d been lacking all along: now I had a target for my songs and demos — a host of them in fact and almost all dwelling in an enchanted kingdom called Nashville. My demo tapes began heading south (years before I ever did) and the rejection letters piled up, although I did receive occasional single song offers from publishing companies. Was I perhaps doing something right?

Lee Greenwood
Lee Greenwood
Early successes:
In the late ’80s and into the ’90s I became somewhat well known as a Vancouver songwriter and producer. My songs were heard frequently on Canadian country radio; artists sought me out when they needed material; I was even interviewed several times in print and on the air. It was heady stuff for a while but I wanted more. When Nashville singer Lee Greenwood recorded “Between A Rock And A Heartache,” releasing it as a Capitol single in 1991, I was thrilled. And when the legendary Statler Brothers recorded “To Make A Long Story Short” in ’92, I felt even more vindicated. By now I had started making annual pilgrimages to Nashville to co-write and to pitch my growing Brainchild Music catalogue. I met A&R people at labels, publishers, producers, and artist relations reps at ASCAP and BMI (being a Canadian I’m registered with SOCAN, Canada’s merged version of the two major PROs). I loved the buzz of Nashville, the sheer talent on constant display and the ever-present
LWC and Maggie Ross
BCCMA Award winner,
with Maggie Ross
sense that the person you heard performing with just a guitar at any writer’s night could well be the next George Strait or Reba. Nashville represented the big leagues and I was itching to test myself. In 1995 my partner Maggie Ross and I said goodbye to Vancouver. We moved Brainchild Music’s Canadian operation to Barrie, Ontario and also bought a house in Nashville. We now divide our time between the two locations in an effort to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Nashville co-writing:
In Nashville I’m writing songs regularly, usually with co-writers and on an appointment basis. That’s the method here. You don’t just call yourself a songwriter, you behave like one, even on days when you don’t feel like it — just like the actor who goes on stage in spite of being sick or after receiving devastating news, or even a soldier being called to battle. You do it because it’s what you are, what you’ve trained for and committed yourself to. “Writer’s block” isn’t much talked about here. Sure, everyone has a bad day or two but why give it a fancy name? Tomorrow will be better. My co-writers and I collect potential titles in notebooks or on scraps of paper, and capture snatches of melody on portable tape recorders. We get together and talk, trade ideas and stories, guitar licks, whatever . . . you hope something will ignite a spark and, more often than not, that’s just what happens. You get bogged down in one idea and take a radical detour into another. Someone plays a wordless melody that perfectly melds with that title you scribbled down two years ago and almost forgot about. Something, somehow, clicks. You and this other person, or persons, enter the “zone” together and begin to create.

Lauren Lucas
Lauren Lucas
Where do I find my co-writers? Everywhere. Or they find me. Like many non-performing songwriters I seek out co-writers who are also singers. I’ve written fine songs with beautiful Lauren Lucas, who records for Warner Bros, and a bunch with Lisa Brokop, an outstanding artist now signed to Curb
Buddy Jewell
Buddy Jewell
Records whom I’ve known for half her life, since we both lived in British Columbia. I’ve written with practically all the members of Bering Strait, a band of extraordinarily gifted young Russian singer-musicians with two CDs on Universal South. And I’m proud to call Buddy Jewell — who was the first winner of USA Network’s Nashville Star competition and went on to record two albums for Columbia Records  — a friend and frequent collaborator. Our “Addicted To The Rain” is on Buddy’s Times Like These CD.

Adam Gregory
Adam Gregory
In Canada I’ve written with recording artists Adam Gregory ("Walkin’ With The Man"), Colin Amey, J.R. Vautour, Rick Tippe and a terrific new trio called After Tuesday. The list changes daily as my body of work continues to expand, work I’m extremely proud of.

Chris Young
When Nashville Star 4 winner Chris Young played our co-write “Drinkin’ Me Lonely” on the Originals Night segment, engulfed in thundering applause, I had to agree with judge Anastasia Brown’s proclamation, “Nashville Star has just revealed a true artist.” How right she was. I’ve been writing songs with Chris since 2002 (when we discovered we were both fans of Buddy Jewell). He’s a true talent and it seems only fitting that it was Nashville Star — the vehicle that launched Buddy — that brought him the national attention he deserves.

Andrea Pearson
Andrea Pearson
And don’t even get me started on the subject of Andrea Pearson, a lovely and sublimely-talented Canadian singer-songwriter who signed a pop deal with Warner Bros in 2005. I’ve known Andrea since she was 10 years old and winning junior talent contests in British Columbia (I judged one of them). Now she’s writing outstanding songs and sings with one of the purest voices I’ve ever heard. I can’t wait till the whole world gets to hear Andrea!

A Little Inside poster
So now what?
While it’s true that blazing Nashville success has been evasive so far, there have been a bright glimmers since Brainchild set up its Music City operation. We landed a song on the debut CD by a group called South Sixty-Five. Our song “I Wanna Live Like That” (co-written with a friend from our Vancouver days, Cathy-Anne Whitworth) plays over the end credits of the 2002 independent film  A Little Inside . . . our first foray into motion picture syncronization. Several TV placements have occurred, including “Uncle Hickory’s General Store” being used in the opening scenes of a 2004 episode of Navy NCIS. Sure, It’s a little sobering at times to realize that I’m now in my 50s and still chasing that dream that stirred my adrenaline as a child in the ’50s and a teenager in tbe ’60s. Half-written songs still race through my head at night when I’m trying to drop off to sleep. Can this sort of stuff possibly be normal, grown-up behavior? Quite frankly, I hope not! Because if writing songs and all it entails — the expense of recording demos, the competitiveness, the constant sting of rejection (believe me, it never stops) — has so far failed to make me rich and famous, I’m also beginning to understand its truest reward: We songwriters have discovered a fountain of youth of sorts.

Almost daily, I sit with guitar in lap and pencil posed (I haven’t yet caught the laptop bug) across the room from songwriters and singers in the 20s, some even in their teens. And though I’m clearly old enough to be their father — and then some — there exists a bond between us known only to those who share a common creative goal. While we mutually pursue our ideas through the webs of ether we are more similar than different. I am, at that moment, still that beardless 18-year-old who used to stare back from my mirror . . .
Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin
decades ago, or was it only moments? That’s the beautiful secret, the payoff: songwriting keeps you young.
Irving Berlin died at 101 having spent his last decades in bitter frustration because there was no longer a market for his antiquated Tin Pan Alley-forged wizardry. Too bad Berlin didn’t move to Nashville and discover its unique brand of co-writing. I think he might have died smiling with dozens more hit songs under his belt.

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