It All Begins With A Song–Our Review of the Documentary

“It All Begins With A Song” is a documentary released to digital platforms by TriCoast Entertainment on March 3, 2020. The documentary tells the story of the Nashville songwriter. The film was released digitally to Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, FlixFling, Vimeo on Demand, and Vudu. Undiscovered Nashville was excited for the opportunity to review this film because it captures what our mission was when we launched our website.

Brett James has written twenty-four number 1 songs.
Brett James has written several #1 songs

“It All Begins With a Song” and the Songwriting Community

Nashville is a community of songwriters from all genres. The film includes country songwriting legends such as Rodney Crowell, Bill Anderson, Tony Arata, Bob DiPiero, and many more. Other hit writers featured in the documentary were Brett James, Brandy Clark, Jessi Alexander, and Shane McAnally. Also, Pop and R&B writers Claude Kelly, Busbee, and Mikky Ekko, were also featured. 

The film captures the cooperative nature of the Nashville songwriting community. One common theme emerges when you talk to songwriters who are new to town. They are genuinely surprised at how helpful other writers were. Also, it is not uncommon for hit songwriters to help those new to town. 

Brad Paisley discuss Whiskey Lullaby in It All Begins with a Song
Brad Paisley discussing “Whiskey Lullaby”

The Story Behind Some of the Biggest Hits

My favorite part of “It All Begins with a Song” are the stories behind the music. The film showcases the stories behind “The Dance,” “Whiskey Lullaby,” “Don’t Stop Believing, ” and “I Drive Your Truck.” I think it is fascinating how many songs come from a conversation. Someone says something, and the songwriter’s brain thinks, that’s a song.  

Jonathan Cain recounted how a conversation with his dad gave him the idea for “Don’t Stop Believing.” Garth Brooks tells the story of hearing Tony Arata playing “The Dance” at the Bluebird Cafe. The scenes that hit me the hardest were with Connie Harrington and Jessi Alexander. They tell the story behind “I Drive Your Truck.” Those scenes brought tears to my eyes, just like the first time I heard that song on the radio.

Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves in It All Begins with a Song
Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves talking about what inspires them.

The Struggle to Keep Writing

“It All Begins with a Song” also captures the struggle that so many songwriters in Nashville face. Tony Arata recounts how he used to load trucks at UPS, and how Mark Irwin used to bartend at the Bluebird. So many songwriters in Nashville are not making money writing songs, but without the writers, Nashville is not the same. Every day new people move to town, but others are considering leaving town because of the financial strain to chase this dream in Nashville. The film captures the essence of that internal battle of he need to feed your family and write songs. 

Every night in Nashville, at venues across the city, you will hear what is likely a hit song. The Bluebird has had its share of hit writers play in the round. However, I would argue you will find talented songwriters in other venues as well. Songwriters put the Bluebird Cafe on their bucket list of venues to play in Nashville. It is a balance to work a job to pay the bills, have time to write, and also play writer’s rounds.

Claude Kelly from It All Begins with a song
Claude Kelly shows us more than country music is written in Nashville

“It All Begins With a Song” is a must watch

If you love music, this film is a must-watch. If you are a songwriter in Nashville or one thinking of moving to Music City, this film is also for you. Hit songwriters share their experiences in Nashville and also give some sage advice. I consider myself knowledgeable about Nashville music scene and its history, however I learned a lot from watching this film. Undiscovered Nashville ranks this documentary a 9/10. In our opinion, if the film had interviewed more songwriters new to town, it would have captured entirely “the story of the Nashville songwriter.”

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