Jace Carlton
Performing Songwriter - Freelance Writer / Photojournalist - Poet - Author

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Soul of a Writer
The Soul of a Writer
Intimate Interviews with Successful Songwriters

Susan Tucker
with Linda Lee Strother
Reviewed by Jace Carlton
Originally published in
The Songwriter's Connection  -  June  2000

Susan Tucker has done a great service for songwriters everywhere by creating an excellent resource of information that is especially helpful to the aspiring songwriter.  I refer to Susan "creating" the book, instead of "writing" it because she’s created a refreshing approach that has raised the standard on books about songwriting "tips".

I've read a variety of books on songwriting, (including Paul Zollo's excellent book "Songwriter's On Songwriting", devoting individual chapters to each songwriter), and "The Soul of a Writer" stands above them all.  Susan's not just offering tips based on her own experience and knowledge of the craft and the industry, but rather she's gone right to some of the top songwriters in the industry who were all enthusiastic about assisting her with her book.  The format is set up with Susan asking the questions, and then the collective responses all gathered together, with each of the songwriters given the opportunity to give an opinion or share an experience.

C'mon in and sit down!

When I began reading "The Soul of a Writer", I found myself constantly flipping back and forth between the bios / photos at the end of the book and the main Q & A section, trying to picture in my mind who said what.  Finally I spent a day or two just reading the bios over and over, and memorizing the photos.  After becoming familiar with my new songwriting "friends", I went back and started the book again.  What a BIG difference!  It truly became an intimate session, as if these writers were actually in my living room, chatting comfortably and answering all of my (well, Susan's) questions that could help me continue to improve my craft and my understanding of the business.

Chapter 1 covers Inspiration, Influences and Encouragement (e.g. "Are there specific places or things that inspire you", "What or who have been your biggest influences").  Chapter 2 looks at Creativity (e.g. "Do you have a writing room or special place where you feel the creativity flows more easily?", "Have you ever experienced a period when the flow of your creativity seemed endless?").

Chapter 3 takes you through The Process  (e.g. "You have an idea for something you want to say in a song.  What process do you go through to develop the story?" etc.), and Chapter 4 deals with the structure of The Song (e.g. "How important is the first line?", "What is the hardest part of writing a song?").

Often asked questions on Co-Writing are found in Chapter 5 (e.g. "How do you choose a co-writer?", "What are the advantages / disadvantages to co-writing?").  Chapter 6 deals with that "editor" that exists within the writer that interrupts the flow all too soon and also gives suggestions about dealing with "Writer's Block".  Writer Profiles (Chap. 7), General Advice (Chap. 8) and the aforementioned Writer Biographies round out this excellent, necessary addition to ANY songwriter’s library.

I can hardly wait for Susan to "create" Part 2!  I’ve already given her some suggestions on who I'd like her to "invite into my living room" next time.

The Who's Who and some of the hits they've written.  (How would you like to have THESE guests in your home for an evening of talking about music and listening as they shared their intimate stories!)  You may or may not be familiar with their names, but no doubt you know the songs they've written for top artists:

Tony Arata "The Dance" – Garth Brooks
Pam Belford
"If I Know Me" – George Strait
Kent Blazy "If Tomorrow Never Comes",
"Somewhere Other Than The Night", and
"Ain’t Going Down Till The Sun Comes Up"
all co-written with and for Garth Brooks
Steve Bogard "Hangin' In" – Tanya Tucker
"Jealous Bone" – Patty Loveless
Rory Bourke "Patch It Up" – Elvis
"You Look So Good In Love" – George Strait
Gary Burr "Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me" – Juice Newton
"To Be Loved By You" - Wynonna
Kim Carnes "Bette Davis Eyes" – Kim Carnes
"Don't Fall In Love With A Stranger" – Duet with Kenny Rogers
"The Heart Won't Lie" – Vince Gill and Reba
Debi Cochran "My Kind Of Girl" – Collin Raye
Jill Colucci "I'm Gonna Be Somebody" – Travis Tritt
"No One Else On Earth" - Wynonna
Kim Copeland "This Heart Is Fragile" – Kim Copeland, and used as the theme song for a Prevention of Child Abuse benefit program in 1993
Gary Earl Feature films, HBO, and Disney Channel movies
Robin Earl Feature films, HBO, Showtime and Disney Channel movies
Kye Fleming "Sleeping Single In A Double Bed" – Barbara Mandrell
"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" – Barbara Mandrell
"I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World" – Ronnie Milsap
"All Roads Lead To You" – Steve Wariner
Lindy Gravelle "Exit 99" – Lorrie Morgan
Janis Ian "Society's Child", "Jesse", and "At Seventeen" – Janis Ian
John Jarrard "Mirror, Mirror" – Diamond Rio
"What's In It For Me?" – John Berry
"We Can't Love Like This Anymore" - Alabama
Al Kasha  ... Just trust me ... he's done it ALL ...
Mary Ann Kennedy "Ring On Her Finger, Time On Her Hands" – Lee Greenwood and also Reba
    (co-written with Pam Rose)
"I’ll Still Be Loving You" – Restless Heart (w/ Pam Rose)
Sandy Knox "Does He Love You?" – Reba
"Why Haven't I Heard From You?" – Reba
"She Thinks His Name Was John" – Reba
Kostas "Timber, I'm Falling In Love" – Patty Loveless
"Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man" – Travis Tritt
Jess Leary "Mi Vida Loca" – Pam Tillis
Jim McBride "Chasing That Neon Rainbow" - Alan Jackson
"Someday" - Alan Jackson
"Chatahoochie" - Alan Jackson
"Who Says You Can't Have It All" – Alan Jackson
Wayland Patton "Something In My Heart" – Ricky Skaggs
"Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose" – Dwight Yoakam
Pam Rose "Ring On Her Finger, Time On Her Hands" – Lee Greenwood and also Reba
     (co-written with Mary Ann Kennedy)
"I'll Still Be Loving You" – Restless Heart (w/ Mary Ann Kennedy)
Joyce Rouse "We've Come A Long Way Ladies" – Joyce Rouse
Wayne Tester "Lifestyles Of The Not So Rich And Famous" – Tracy Byrd
"The Change" – Garth Brooks
Tricia Walker "Halfway Round The World" – Tricia Walker
Kate Wallace "Going Through The Emotions" – Kate Wallace
Marijohn Wilkin "Waterloo" Stonewall Jackson
"PT 109"
Jimmy Dean
Kim Williams "If The Devil Danced In Empty Pockets" – Joe Diffie
"The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" – Reba
"Overnight Male" – George Strait (and featured in the movie "Pure Country")

One Copy of "The Soul of a Writer" = $21.95
Time spent enjoying "Intimate Interviews" with successful songwriters   =   PRICELESS!

Copyright © 2000 by Jace Carlton

Order Here


Jace Carlton lives in the Nashville, TN area and is a member of NSAI.  A Freelance Writer / Photographer, Poet, Author, and former Radio DJ, he now enjoys a career as a Songwriter, and a collaborator much in demand predominantly in the Country genre, but also enjoys occasionally writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters and regularly contributed book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

Jace is also the creator of the Change Your Stars! website and its companion daily motivational / inspirational e-mail message that's read by over 14,000 people all over the world.  For a free subscription click here and you'll be added within 24 hours.  Privacy Statement

Comments regarding this review may be sent to Jace@jacecarlton.com

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