On the first glance, it’s perhaps a little too easy to feel initially disappointed by the collection of works that make up Motif: Writing by Ear. But, like most good things, it just requires a deeper look and a touch more patience.
While names like Buddy and Julie Miller, Scott Miller and Patty Griffin appear in the list of contributors, their pages are poems (read: lyrics). The real beauty of the work comes in the other stories – the ones we all can relate to in one way or another.
In the ambitious book, an anthology of writings about music, editor Marianne Worthington brings together essays, poems and short stories, both true and imagined.
There’s the story of a first autoharp, dubbed “June” (“Country Gold” by Jason Howard), being a tour guide in Nashville (Kathi Whitley’s “From the Jim Reeves Museum with Love), and of bars with bands called “Dallas Alice” and bartenders named “Gina” (“Air Devil’s Inn on a Saturday Night” by Beth Newberry).
Other pieces, Tiffany Williams’ “Feeling Sound” and the sense of accomplishment felt after covertly taping a forbidden radio show of Top 40 hits (Neela Vaswani’s “Feet on the Ground, Reaching for the Stars”) bring the same connectedness through shared experiences like a final encore when all the lighters (or cell phones) are whipped out.
The final product is an emotion filled book for lovers of music and songwriting. It’s not a generic “chicken soup for the soul” but instead it’s a big plate of fried chicken, coleslaw and peach cobbler for the heart.