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Story Behind The Song: Original

Story Behind The Song: Original


“Before I Fall Silent”

This one was demoed at Beaird Music Group in Nashville. I felt a little bad for the musicians because I brought two ballads in to start their day!

But – they were OK with starting out their morning in a more mellow frame of mind.


Story Behind The Song:  “Before I Fall Silent”


The song idea started from newspaper interview with Jimmy Webb written by someone I work with, Andrew Dansby.  Andrew is a great song historian not only for Houston, but for the craft before  i fall silentof songwriting.

He appreciates the creation of a song, songwriters who live their lives dedicated to bringing us lyrics and music, and he’s a great story teller.  He also knows Jimmy Webb – one of my favorite songwriters and writer of one of the best songs of all time “Wichita Lineman.”

During an interview, when asked about his father and issues surrounding their relationship, he responded “It’s surely one of the things I need to address before I fall silent” – that was where the idea started.

I’d fallen out of touch with my youngest niece – not having seen her for almost 15 years. For whatever reason, when she was very small – maybe 3 – I just felt a connection with her. I started thinking about what I probably needed to address and would time outpace my ability to do so.

You’ll note the date on the first draft of the song – 11/24/13. In January of 2014 my father passed away and my niece showed up at his funeral. We reconnected and I’m happy to say – she likes the song.

Life, and songwriting, work in strange ways.


The Feedback Process


I originally sent this song for feedback to the NSAI song evaluation service.  I didn’t explain anything, I just asked that they give feedback on making it the best song possible.

One of the things you might find when using the service is the tendency to focus on a “story” being told.  While spot on in country songs, it’s not necessarily the norm for pop, blues, jazz . . . OK . . . most genres don’t insist on such a linear approach to what’s going on – but you know that going in!

So use the service to your advantage but skipping past that part if it’s not relevant for your genre or purpose, and focus on the feedback that helps move your song forward.


Work Tape: “Before I Fall Silent”



For example, for this particular song the three verse structure was a big topic – as it should be. There is the tendency for these types of structures to sound repetitive. A live version of this song would likely include a bit more presence for the musical break after the second verse and the demo could have, had I paid for it. I chose not to and just leave the break with subtle pedal steel.

In this version the demo singer, Tania Hancheroff, did a nice job of creating some variation with her interpretation of the first phrase of the second verse.


Yes – I Chose To Ignore Some Feedback!  Why?


There were also numerous suggestions to add in details versus keeping the phrase “how our lives unfurl”. These included: speaker crashed their car, lost their job, won the lottery, etc.. Yes I chose to ignore these suggestions. Why?

To me, this song is direct address to another person and should be treated that way, not a story to follow for outside observers.  It’s a very intimate conversation.  An apology really. And when individuals have those types of conversations, and are apologizing, they don’t “add details”.  They just start by saying, “sometimes our lives unfurl”.

You know from the tone it’s the start of an apology.  In my view, adding details would only end up sounding like an excuse.  After all, isn’t that how excuses start: well, I was in a car crash, then I lost my job, which sent me into a hole, so didn’t get back to you for 15 years. Excuses. Entirely different tone, and idea, for the song.

Having said that, I did change a few lines because the reviewer had difficulty following the idea of what was trying to be imparted. Since there are no details related to a “story” I did need to pay attention to those comments and made changes to the lyric.

While this is a highly personal song, and some of my decisions to change or not change were driven by that, in the end, I still wanted a good song others could listen and relate to when they heard it.

So I didn’t turn a blind ear to the feedback – I made conscious decisions about edits.


The Final Song


We did eventually change the word “pause” in V3 to “stop” which I think works better (make sure your lyrics are exact when you give them to the studio!) – but have the original here.

Songwriters:  Linda A. Schaible / Kristen Hart

Demo Singer:  Tania Hancheroff (who did a fantastic job on bringing an awesome mood to the song)



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