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From Song to Cinema: How Cary Brothers Writes With His Eyes and Ears

From Song to Cinema: How Cary Brothers Writes With His Eyes and Ears

The accomplished songwriter demonstrates his visual approach to songwriting while creating a barroom ballad.

Ever wondered how songwriters capture scenery and stories so vivid that they seem to jump out of the song and into real life? Cary Brothers can offer some insight. In addition to releasing three full-length solo albums, the Los Angeles-based musician’s songs have been featured in dozens of film and TV productions, including Grey’s Anatomy, ER, Scrubs, One Tree Hill, Smallville, 90210, Garden State, and more.

Brothers moved to Los Angeles to work in film, but eventually turned to focus on writing music. His experiences in Hollywood gave Brothers a keen visual sense in music—and a deep appreciation for how sounds and visuals can augment one another. This time out on Before Your Very Ears, Brothers joins hosts Sean Watkins and Peter Harper to talk about how to balance the desires of both our eyes and ears while arranging tunes.

The end result is a deliciously striking last-call serenade. It starts with a Pogues-esque keys motif, then blossoms into a Waits-meets-Springsteen, back-of-the-bar heartbreaker. The details get filled in as the writing session goes on—the local watering hole with its broken jukebox and laissez-faire doorman—and before long, the cinematic, lonesome ballad takes shape.

Visit for a free sample lesson, or use code “Song” for a 10% discount on your first non-degree course.

On her new record with her trio, Molly Miller executes a live-feeling work of structural harmony that mirrors her busy life.

Photo by Anna Azarov

The accomplished guitarist and teacher’s new record, like her lifestyle, is taut and exciting—no more, and certainly no less, than is needed.

Molly Miller, a self-described “high-energy person,” is fully charged by the crack of dawn. When Ischeduled our interview, she opted for the very first slot available—8:30 a.m.—just before her 10 a.m. tennis match!

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On this season finale episode, the actor and musician leads a Prine-inspired songwriting session about how few tools we have in our collective toolbox.

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Featuring enhanced amp models, a built-in creative looper, AI-powered tone exploration, and smart jam features.

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Donner andThird Man Hardware’s $99, three-in-one analog distortion, phaser, and delay honors Jack White’s budget gear roots.

Compact. Light. Fun. Dirt cheap. Many cool sounds that make this pedal a viable option for traveling pros.

Phaser level control not much use below 1 o’clock. Repeats are bright for an analog delay. Greater range of low-gain sounds would be nice.


Donner X Third Man Triple Threat


A huge part of the early White Stripes mystique, sound, ethos, and identity was tied to guitars and amps that, at the time, you could luck into for cheap at a garage sale. These days, it’s harder to score a Crestwood Astral II, or Silvertone Twin Twelve with a part-time job in the ice cream shop. Back in the late ’90s, though, they were a source of raw, nasty sounds for less than a new, more generic guitar or amp.

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