Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 month ago

WB S1E28: Songwriting as Storytelling, Part 2


WRITERS' BLOCK: Esteemed Nashville singer/songwriters, Kim Richey and Gretchen Peters continue their convesation with Ron Block and perform songs bothe written by them and by each other.

Welcome to the part two of my amazingconversation with Kim Richie and Gretchen Peters. If you missed thefirst one, jump back to the November 26th episode and do yourself a favorand ketchup. MM. Back then, I heard this song, which, like the other songsthat we were talking about, just made me weep every time I heard it, whichwas called A Place Called Home, and It just and actually I put it on aplaylist before my husband. When we were just getting together, I was justlike, I know he's gonna relate to this song. It's because it's really aboutWanderers. Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast, fourNew York Times Bestselling authors, one rock star Librarian and endless storiesjoin Mary Kay Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey and PattiCallahan. Henry along with Ron Block as novelists, we are four long timefriends with 70 books between us and I am Ron Block. Please join us forfascinating author interviews and insider talk about publishing andwriting. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, youare in the right place. Yeah, so one of the things that I have readabout both of you is that you are so good at collaborating and supportingeach other. So one of the things I was hoping that you would do for us todayis kind of shine a light on one of each other's songs that you really have alot and we'll play them for people. Yes, I'd love to go first. Um, uncle first.Okay. Before I knew Kim as well as I do now, before we knew each other back inthe day. But we were also, you know, like event friends. You never saw eachother unless we were playing a show. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. We're eitherplaying a show together or at some stupid music business thing. So, um,before back then I heard this song which, like the other songs that wewere talking about, just made me weep every time I heard it, which was calleda place called home, huh? And it just and actually I put it on a playlistbefore my husband when we were just getting together, I was just like, Iknow he's gonna relate to this song. It's because it's really aboutwanderers. You know, and I think all of us, to some extent, Kim to a greaterextent than a lot of us. But all of us who do this thing are kind of we'rekind of wanderers and travelers and restless a little bit. And and there'sa kind of wonderful, uh, happy, sad feeling when you're out on that. You'vebeen out on the road a long time, and you're homesick. But you're also kindof, I don't know. I remember there were times when I was out by myself back inthe early days. I didn't have a band or driver or anything. I was all by myself,and I would have this thought. Not one soul on this planet knows where I amright now, and it kind of gave me this happiness and sadness all at the sametime. And that's what Kim Song does for me. It's that feeling of, you know, I'mjust I'm out here. Here I am. It's a little voice like a little light, youknow, like a little light that's shining in the night. Um, that that thelyrics to that song, it's just not to mention the melody is so wistful Icouldn't agree more. Do you have a favorite line from the song? I guessthe thing that the thing that turns the tears on, uh, is that is that it's theI guess it's in the chorus because you...

...repeat it someday. Someday I'll go,well, there ain't no rain and snow. And I'm just like, yeah, but that's nevergoing to you know, it's like that. It's almost the diluted narrator saying,Yeah, someday, but you just kind of No, no, no, you're never gonna find thatway. It's not gonna happen. Yeah, it's a great song. And for those of youlistening, here's a little sample of the song. Someday I'll go where there ain't norain or snow. Until then I traveled along and I make my bed when the starsabove my head dream of a place call. So Kim talked to us about a song ofGretchen's that means a lot to you. Okay, I love arguing with ghosts, and,uh, what? There are so many things I love about the song, The economy of it,like, Look, there's Kevin Walz said this to me one time at a songwritingcircle when I just moved to town and I played a song and he came up to me andsaid afterwards, He said, There's no fat on that song And I was like, What agreat complement, you know. And I think the I love how this this song ismelodically really simple and beautiful, like in the chorus. Chuck Prophetalways says It's the Dylan thing where you say the 1st 1st line, then thesecond line is different than the third line is different and you repeat thefirst line for the fourth for the fourth line first. And so it's got thatgoing on. So there are so many things about this song that just draw likethis is master class What I would play, too, if I were doing a songwritingworkshop. Because this song has has all the elements and elements that drawpeople into the song and don't make them feel included rather than like,Well, this is This is too hard for you to understand, probably, or it's likethe first line. Okay, here's it starts out. Um, I don't know why I'm lookingat my thing because I know it. It's I get lost in my hometown. So just thatamount of words. I mean, you can really relate to it in Nashville, for sure,but But people are like, you know, immediately. You know, this person getslost even in some place where they were raised, and they've been there forever.And then since they tore the driving down, it's like, Oh, now that puts youin a time frame as well without you know, this song is so great in sayingall these things without actually saying it's showing him The song isreally visual, and I think the melody is beautiful And, um, like when you goto the course, usually you're supposed to let go Oh, you know and everythingjust lifts up. And I think the corn starts on a minor tour. Yeah, it justgoes down to the relatively. Yeah, but but it's still whips. But so I I lovethis song, and it's This is one of those songs that I never, ever, everget tired here. Oh, I have to shout out to my co writers on that song. Uh,Teresa Berg and Ben Glover, not too shabby. The three of us sat down. Thatwas the first time we wrote anything first and only time the three of uswrote anything together and wrote it in an afternoon, which is completely nottypical for me. That's kind of nuts. But it's, you know, it just kind offell out, and sometimes those are the Those are the ones. It's a beautifulsong. It's really, really a great song to you. So I want to say You said theeconomy of lyric or something earlier that it's like Boom! And put a lightbulb in my head because both of your... So I go like, how can they sayso much with so few lyrics? And that's so true for thing and give us earwormsin my house because we are. Your songs are always on repeat in our heads. Youknow, the song form is tiny, it's It's tiny, it's it's 3-5 minutes. You havethis little frame to tell a whole story, and so every word counts. And if youcan draw a picture, you've you've saved 1000 words to use the cliche or torephrase the cliche, Um, and that's why I think pictures are so important insongwriting because you can. You know, I think my my classic example isKristofferson's Sunday morning coming down. It's a whole the first versus anentire character sketch. You know, everything about that guy in four lines.Um, you know, the beer I had for breakfast that tells you a lot, right?So, you know, that's to me. That's, uh that's really if you can If you canshow me pictures in a song, I can get so much deeper, so much faster. And,you know, most songs have, what, 16, 24 lines. You know, not not a whole lot ofroom to move. Say a lot more by showing it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's so true.So on that note, let's take a listen to argument with ghosts. A little bit of a mm. At the same old kitchen table in thesame old buster check. I'm drinking coffee, arguing with closed, arguingwith goal. Okay, I have a couple more questions for you, if you don't mind.Um, I'm wondering how when you put so much of yourself into some of thesesongs, how it is when you let them go when you record them, and then they'reout in the world like Do you? Does it stay with you or do you Do you have theability to just let it go and let people interpret it the way thatthey're hearing it? That's a great question. Um, well, you have to letthem interpret. It's the way they hear it. You have. You don't have a choice.Paul Simon said that he feels like in some ways the audience is the final cowriter on a song which I kind of love. It's brilliant, I know. For my part, um,I've had a couple songs rather famously interpreted in ways that they werenever meant to be interpreted like Independence Day. Yeah, and that was ahard one for me because it was used as a much like born in the USA. It wasused as a some kind of a jingoistic, you know, Roger Roth patriotic anthemwhen it's actually a song about domestic abuse, and and that that didnot go down well with me. Um, but you you know, you don't have control overthat. And I think what the beautiful thing that happened with that song isthat it came around full circle. Um I remember reading A an essay that waswritten by a gay man in his thirties living in New York. So, you know, hegrew up in the Midwest and he always thought that song was schlocky andawful because he thought country music was schlocky and awful when he was, hewas trying to get as far away from it as he could, you know, as a kid. Andthen, you know, sometime in his thirties, he actually listen to it andlisten to the lyrics and just reclaimed..., you know? And I I loved it becausesomehow when he wrote and he wrote this beautiful essay about that, Um, andwhen when I read that, I thought, that is what a song, If you're if you'relucky, that's what a song that's got staying power will do. It willeventually just kind of it will just come around on its own, and people will.People will get it, you know. But I mean, at some level, you know, like wewere saying before you, it's not our job to figure out where they go in theworld. It's it's just our job to put them out there So you have to. And Ialso think I think different interpretations are fascinating. I mean,I I rode on a bus to ST Cloud, and in my mind, that was about suicide. Butwhen I talk to Trisha Yearwood, who was the first one to record it, and I toldher that she was shocked, I never thought that from your notice a lot ofpeople don't. And I think the thing is, I needed it to be about that in orderto get, like, emotionally into the place where I needed to get to write it.But I didn't need for the world to think that I think it. I think itactually is. A, um it's a strength of the song that other people can puttheir own right story into it. Do you know what I mean? Right? Yeah, a littlebit of ambiguity and mystery is not a bad thing, right? I Yeah, I agree. Idon't write like, um I mean, probably, especially from coming up Songwriting,like learning a lot about songwriting in Nashville here is like my lyricsaren't that obtuse. I don't think they're They're, like, fairlystraightforward, But there's so many little different nuances. Like like thesong we're talking about a place called home like, someday I'll go where thereain't no rain or snow like to me, that's what I'm dead That's what thatmeans. It's not like I'm going to find a place that's, you know, really, theweather is nice, but that wasn't what I was thinking. And I only have oneperson ever asked me, Is that Is that what you were thinking when you wrote Itook that lines? Means someday these these this sadness will I won't havethis burden. I won't be carrying this sadness. That's the That's the beautyof being able to interpret. And I would actually argue that your lyrics arethere, not there, not obscure in any way. But they leave lots of room for meto to put put your put yourself if you don't do this, Yeah, I mean, you don'tdo the thing, which really, frankly drives me crazy that a lot ofsongwriters in Nashville do, which is take every single, you know, color in and, you know, likefill in all the blanks so that you could never, ever, ever, you know,mistake this for that, or, I mean, I always I always quote the I mean to me.The greatest ambiguous and mysterious song of all is famous blue raincoat.Find Leonard Cohen. And, like I can still listen to that song ago. What thehell happened there? You know, and I love this, but your your songs arethere's loads of room to get in there and drift around and put yourself that'sthat's nice to hear into them. It's kind of where you are, too, because Ican listen to a song of either of yours like today and then next week I'm goingto listen, and it's going to be a whole different take on it for me. It reallydepends on where I meet the song. I've had that happen to me when I when I'vebeen singing a song like an older song I had I remember one specifically onenight singing a song on stage, a song I wrote called Like Water Into Wine and Aline came by and hit me. And there was a double meaning that for literally 20years I had completely missed. I wrote... so I mean, if that can happen to thewriter. It can certainly happen to the listener if the song is well, you do.You do well, like I have a song called I'm All Right. And that's the That'sthe course of it. And and I know I sing it differently depending on how I feel.Like sometimes it could be like, Okay, I'm not really all right. But if I keepsaying I'm all right at some point in theory, I will be. And then there'sother times, like, you know, I'm all right, you know, I'm doing great.That's the great thing about that song, actually is because that it does. I'veseen you do it a lot. And it it really works when you're not over. I'm alright.I'm alright. I'm I'm gonna be all right. I'm kind of I'm okay. Maybe not. Maybenot. Um, So talk to me a little bit about going in and being in the musicindustry and being in Nashville through the pandemic. You feel this one firstthrough the band. I was I was with you. The first part would put some musicbusiness like and I said to Gretchen today when I got here it's like deathby 1000 cuts. But the during the pandemic thing, I mean, everybody just dealt with itdifferently. You know, there are some people that were like, you know, thereI heard interviews where people are like, Well, I recorded an entire albumand I wrote a book and, you know, and I have three Children all this kind ofstuff because like, and I'm thinking, well, I kept some sour dough starteralive for a year. I'm pretty proud of myself for that. But like my duringthat time for me, I mean, I couldn't I didn't feel like great anything. Myhead was full of other stuff, and, uh, and I wrote a couple. I wrote maybe twosongs and that was it, the whole the whole time. But there were just so manythings that that were going on in my head that I'm not excuse me really good.I don't feel like I'm good writing about those things, like politicalsongs like I don't I don't have any political well and you have to, even ifyou are going to write about, like what was going on politically or with thepandemic and you've got to like that stuff has to suggest that you have tobe able to step back a bit. I mean, you were right in the middle of it. Exactly.It's like you. You can't you know, you can't just immediately write about itwithout some gestation And some, you know, um, yeah, I was I was like himonly maybe even more so. I didn't write anything. I didn't. I felt like we wereIn a slow motion emergency for 18 months. And, um, I was also reallyexhausted from so much touring and especially so much going back and forthbetween here in Europe. We were doing that to three times a year. Um, for along time. And honestly, when the lockdown happened, I was relieved thatthere was a There was part of me, of course, that was terrified and all theother things and it was awful. But there was also a little bit of relief.There was a snow day thing. It's like, you know, when I said we're gonna haveto cancel this, you know, next this month, the shows and I was like, Oh,okay. Well, I'm gonna I'm gonna plant some flowers, you know, And the flowerswon't run screaming from me when I try to pick them and the thing because theyknow I'm going to let them die. So I you know, I planted a garden and I waslike, you know, and I actually got to know my neighbors and all of this stuff.So at first, at first it was it just felt like a nice breather. I had abedtime for the first time in my entire... life. Like I went to bed at thesame time every night and it was awesome. My sleep. I have to say it wasa lot better than being on the road because there's basically, you know,whatever. Your schedule is different every day. Um, but they got less fun.Is it progressed? And the other thing was, some people like like you said,some people reacted by being super productive and doing live streams threetimes a week, and and I honestly, I did a few, but I am. You know, I would findmyself, you know, three or four songs into a live stream. And as much as Iloved seeing all those people come you know, online and everything. I wouldfind myself really tired, and I for a while couldn't figure out why. And thenI realized you're not getting any energy back from your singing to acamera. Yeah, that's the great thing about performing live. And I've beendoing, you know, done some shows Now, since we're kind of getting back outand there's just nothing like it, I mean, just a bunch of hearts floatingup on your screen doesn't get it, you know, not compared to you know, it. Itreally makes you realize what what a transaction happens in a in a room withreal human beings when you're playing music and they're giving you love andyou're giving them love and it's just like it's energy and you know anybodythat's done, it knows you can go out on a stage feeling exhausted and tired and,yeah, an hour and a half later, you feel great, you know, and that'sbecause of the energy you get back. But you don't get that in front of acomputer screen. Also like to be able to write with people you know, theywere to play music with people. You know that was taken off the table for awhile, you know, I know some people did the zoom, you know. Right. But I can'tdo that at all. So So, yeah, I'm not I'm not big on the screen thing. So itwasn't It wasn't that great for me musically, really? I think it reallythe other thing that the pandemic did is it really laid bare the fact that,you know, independent musicians are living on the edge already? They werealready really kind of scrapping by and and, uh, you know, Streaming is a jokein terms of, you know, the income stream from that. And, um, but thepandemic, I think, just kind of revealed that and made it a lot worse.And honestly, my my real empathy right now is for young musicians that werejust getting their wheels under them. And then this thing happened and it putwhat a two year delay in their in their career? Probably. And you know, I mean,I'm fine. I've had my fun. Anything I get is extra Jerry, and you know, atthis point, but for somebody who's like in their twenties or early thirties orsomething that's just getting started. I just I felt for them because what ahard thing to have your life in your career put on hold like that. You know,hopefully they were more adapt at the streaming thing, not streaming music,but like performance, you know, live like YouTube things and all of thatkind of Florida. But it's just, you know, it's, you know, there's there,most of them at a subsistence level, anyway. And it's just it's it's beenreally, really hard And, you know, and you hate to see great favorite venuesgo away that that of our favorite venues shut down. You know that a lotof time, you know, So OK, enough bringing everybody down just did myfault. Yeah, it's true. Um, so are there. Are there any people out therethat are up and coming that you you think that we ought to be payingattention to? I think Courtney Marie Andrews is just brilliant. What? She'sjust like a gorgeous voice, and she's...

...very much her own. Uh, she's very muchher own artist. She doesn't sound like anybody else. I also heard a song byanother young woman who's on Oh, boy Records and Emily Scott Robinson. Sheshe on Oh, boy, she's on Oh, boy Records And she I just I don't know howI even heard her album is called American Siren, but I heard I think Isaw a video like a live video of her during, um, Americana week. I think ofa song that I'm assuming is from that album. That was just It just floored me.Um, and I'm going to try and look for the title right now. Oh, it's, um yeah,the song that that I heard her do lives called Let Him Burn and I I just I wasknocked out by her and by the song. So both of those young women, I think arereally worth paying attention to. Good, Good. I want to mention CharlotteCornfield, and she's a Canadian artist, and I met her through, uh, I think forthe past four years I've been part of a songwriting, uh, workshop. That's up inthe vamp center for the arts. Um, and Charlotte was there one year andactually over. You know, when we were in lockdown, I had a couple a couple ofwomen from that class that I met with mentoring, you know, during thepandemic as it's over. But during the lockdown part. But when it was, it wasshe just has a new album that just came out yesterday, I think. And it's justbrilliant. And, um, she just has a great way with words of these tinyphrases. A lot of her lyrics are repeated kind of phrases over and overagain. And you just there so visual her lyrics are. And, um, yeah, thatCharlotte would be somebody that that that I would say for people to have alisten. So I was hoping that maybe I could coax the two of you into maybegiving us a little live music. Certainly. I think you have coaxed.Yeah, I'll go first, if that's okay, because I want you to sing on this withme, So Mm hmm. Uh huh. Our lady on the bus people is holdingforth tonight. Her body it is waste, but her eyes areshining And our father, who art slightly drunk, is warding off theshakes and he staggers underneath awake. Other promises he made Say grace, Saygrace. Forgive yourself for all your mistakes. So you can start over if that's what ittakes. Just come inside and set yourself a plane and say grades. We are gathered here together to praisehis holy name In a sheltered by the...

...greyhound station down on 5th and mainand as to who were praying to their own two schools of thought, a never loudprovided or an unforgiving God say grace, Say grace. Forgive yourselffor all your mistakes. You might find salvation in yourneighbor's face. Just come inside and set yourself a place and say grace. Yeah, now the Bible on the table saying, Feelgood she But the T V and of course, screen You're not welcome. And on aposter in the waiting room, she greets the Tyron Poole. Our Lady of the Harborstands beside the golden door. Say grace, Say grace. Forgive yourselffor all your mistakes. You are not a loser. You are not a hopeless cakes. Just come inside and set yourself place. Say grace. Come inside and set yourself a place. Say grace. Oh my God, Thank you, God, I love that song. Ilove hearing Kim sing on it. We did this tour in the U k a couple of yearsa few years ago, a few years ago, I guess, and every night she came out andsang. God sang on that and I think you sang on the record. She sang on Sing onthe on the Record for My Records, too. So Kim is like the background singerseverybody wants on their records. Everybody. And that's very obvious. WhyI love That's my favorite thing. That's my favorite thing. Is singing withpeople. Yeah, I'd much rather be. I mean, what is that? What is that movie?The so many feet from 20 ft from stardom? I was just like I want to bethat I don't want to be what I would...

...what I am. I want to be 20 ft fromstardom. I want to be like a background singer. That's the that's the gig of mydreams. Really. My my big ambition when I was 14 was to just sing, backgroundand play tambourine with Crosby, stills and nash. That was all I wanted. You'regoing to say the Archie's. No, it's going to be the Partridge Family. No,no. Oh, my God, I was cooler than that. The arches Okay, Kim. All right, yougot all right. Let's take it back. I didn't, uh I wrote this song with MikeHenderson I haven't written with. He's one of my most favorite writers toHenderson's. Uh, anyway, here we go. I used a while back on forever. I used to race my demons down along my best I a world I don't Well, name change faces.I've already tasted everything They got cell. I'm staying out there.

Mhm. Oh, oh, Blown away. Both of those songs arejust so so full of story and so full of just heart and emotion. And I thank youboth for doing that. I just I'm speechless. Thank you. Thank you. Thankyou. Thank you. In fact, in our home here last night, I asked my husband,Jeff, What song do you think Kim will pick to sing? He says, Oh, it's goingto be wild horses. I said no, I don't think so. I love that song. He won. Iwas going to pick something that I could sing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.That's not probably ideal conditions, but it's great. So I know that the twoof you are planning on touring again together overseas. Yes, We are going tobe good. We have such a ball. The last time we're doing all the dates that gotpostponed Twice and three times, all in one big lump. Starting in, what? Marchof 2020 to the middle of March. And it goes all the way through middle ofApril, kind of. And then we're going to end of April. Yeah, something May,because there's some Netherlands stuff coming over. Yeah, we're We're going tobe renting an apartment. We had a really great kim. One of the thingsthat Kim, when you're on the road with her, my tour manager is also this sameway. She makes you go on field trips like you. If you have a day off, you'renot lying around in the hotel, Like left to my own devices. I'd be like,I'm just going to be in my room and I'm gonna have room service. I'll see youin 24 hours. Let's go. Let's go. But she and also my tour manager, Rebecca,are just they found all kinds of amazing things for us to go. Do and see.You know, I might have grumbled a little bit at the beginning, but itreally we had a blast. We really did. We packed a lot of life into what couldhave just been, you know, Dr Sam Check Gig hotel. Dr Rinse. Repeat. You know,So it's such a good gang. And I love getting like, like, you know, I get todo my dream gig singing with you guys during your set. Yeah, we all do. Youknow, we collaborate and do you know, because you can't. Well, for one thing,I was not going to have her with us and not, like, make her sing with usbecause it's just so much fun that we have because the bands, the guys in theband, everyone sings with five singers on stage, which is such a luxury. Imean, you don't get you don't get to do that that often, So that was prettygreat. So, yeah, we were just talking about that before doing this podcast wewere talking about. We better start boot camp because we're gonna We'regonna have to Well, just so you know, I'm going to be on tour with you. I'llbe singing backup for you. All right? No, No, you don't want to hear that.I'm kidding. You do not want to hear that. Well, so I can't thank the two ofyou enough for being a part of this amazing episode. Your music has trulytouched so many lives. And I know that you're going to gain many more fans Now,from this episode, by writing is very profound and moving as a profession.And thank goodness you've shared your gifts with the world. So thank you forthat. And thank you for joining me today. Thank you. Thanks for having us,Ron. Your sweetheart. Great. We had fun.

Yeah. So much more. So much more for us to be in the same,I can tell. I can tell you just have such a synergy between Yeah, right. Andthank you all for listening to the podcast on behalf of the Fab Four atFriends and Fiction. If you have enjoyed this or any of our otherepisodes, please be sure to share with a friend. We treasure the support thatyou've all shown to us. See you next week. Mhm. Thank you for tuning in to the friendsand Fiction writer's block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate andreview on your favorite podcast platform. Tune in every Friday foranother episode, And you can also join us every week onFacebook or YouTube, where our live friends and fiction show airs at sevenp.m. eastern standard time. We are so glad you're here.

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