Story of a Song

Every song tells its own story, of course. But admit it: Sometimes you wonder what the songwriter was really thinking.  Why that particular turn of phrase, why those exact chords and beats? 

Across genres from metal to hip hop, writing a song involves a special alchemy of the elements of melody, rhythm, words and feeling. 

On KCUR's Story of a Song series, we ask Kansas City songwriters to tell the stories behind their compositions.

Courtesy of Gracie Schram

The artist: Gracie Schram

The song: Under The Sun

Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas, has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The artist: Calvin Arsenia

The song: "Kansas City, Baby"

The album: Catastrophe

The accompaniment: Jessica Paige (vocals), Coleen Dieker (violin), Joe Donley (upright bass)

The story: Calvin Arsenia calls his music neo-classical urban folk. His signature instrument is pretty unusual – it's a harp.

Jason Dailey / www.daileyimages.com/

The band: Heidi Gluck

The song: Sadness Is Psychedelic

The story: Singer-songwriter Heidi Gluck is originally from Canada; she now lives in Lawrence, Kansas. But before she settled there, she lived in Indiana where she was involved in a tight-knit musical scene. 

"We've gone through some life stuff together," says Gluck. "And we still make music together. So they've just been my musical family."

Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

The band: Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

The song: "Destination Revolution"

Brian Chan

The band: Jorge Arana Trio

The songs: "Mammoth," "Speak Beast"

The story: "It started with a very simple riff," says Jorge Arana, of his latest album "Mammoth."

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The band: Rachel Mallin and The Wild Type

The song: "White Girls"

Courtesy of Bummer

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The Band: Bummer

The Song: "Bad News"

The Songwriters: Matt Perrin and Mike Gustafson

Courtesy of Bruno Bessa

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The Song: "Sabiá"

The Songwriters: Chico Buarque and Antônio Carlos Jobim

Interpreted by: Vocalist Bruno Bessa and guitarist Beau Bledsoe with Ensemble Ibérica

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The musicianKristie Stremel, singer-songwriter

The song: "Orlando (Keep Dancing)"

The story: Just two days after a gunman left 49 dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Lawrence, Kansas-based singer-songwriter Stremel wrote a song to honor the victims.

Courtesy of The Grisly Hand

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which Kansas City area musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The Composer: Jimmy Fitzner, singer and guitarist

The Band: The Grisly Hand

The Song: “The Picture I Keep,” to be released on the forthcoming album Hearts and Stars

Brian Rogers

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The Musicians: Emcee Morgan Cooper (aka Barrel Maker) and producer Brian Rogers (aka Lion)

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically. 

The project: Igor Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du Soldat," or "A Soldier's Tale."

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The Musician: Julian Davis

The Song: “Maybelline”

Alison Claire Peck / alisonclairepeck.com

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Artists: Hermon Mehari, Julia Haile, Brad Williams, Anthony Saunders of The Buhs

The Song: "Can't Let Go"

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Artist: Johnny Hamil of Mr. Marco's V7

Local musicians tell the story behind a song and explain how it was constructed musically in The Story of a Song, a monthly segment from KCUR's Central Standard.

Artist: Shy Boys

The Song: Trim

Kansas City Band HMPH! Shares Recipe For 'Sghetti Sauce'

Oct 22, 2015

Local musicians tell the story behind a recent song and explain how it was constructed musically in The Story of a Song, a monthly segment from  KCUR's Central Standard.

Artist: HMPH!

The Song: Sghetti Sauce

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

"The Story of a Song" is monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Artist: The Popper aka Walter Lee Edwin

The Song: I'm KC

Music Career: The Popper’s been rapping in Kansas City since 1996, straddling some of Kansas City’s different hip-hop scenes.

The Story: After a few days in jail early this summer, Edwin was on house arrest and wrote and recorded a whole album, Write (Right) Thru The Pain, about that experience. With that out of the way, he wrote, recorded and released the summer anthem "I’m KC" in a matter of days. 

Story Of A Song: Nuwayv's "We Shinin'"

Mar 12, 2015
Courtesy Nuwayv

Earlier this year when the Folk Alliance International conference was underway in Kansas City, Central Standard interviewed local musicians from different genres about how they write songs. That inspired us to launch a new series: "Story of a Song."

For this installment, Hannah Copeland spoke with members of the Kansas City band, Nuwayv, which defines its music as "rugged soul." Hannah explains how the four artists collaborated to write their new album’s final track, “We Shinin.”

Making Movies Frontman On 'Chase Your Tail'

Feb 19, 2015

“Have you ever had a conversation that’s just inspired and it feels like it just rolls back and forth?" asks Enrique Chi, lead singer and founder of the Latin-influenced rock band Making Movies, based in Kansas City, Mo.

"I think that’s a really beautiful human thing, and that’s kind of what songwriting feels like.”

Central Standard caught up with Chi during a recent rehearsal to ask him about his songwriting process and the inspiration behind the song Chase Your Tail.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

One of the youngest performers who will be showcased at this week’s Folk Alliance International conference here in Kansas City is a teenager from Overland Park.

Kate Rose is a 15-year-old singer-songwriter and student at Olathe East High School. She recently shared the process by which she wrote the song, And The People Will Remember.