We Create Music Blog
October 05, 2012

Tim Hosman & Randy Goodrum on Trade of Innocents

Timothy Hosman and Randy Goodrum

Randy Goodrum (l) and Timothy Hosman at the Trade of Innocents premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York on September 27th, 2012. Photo by Jean-Pierre VanHoegaerden.

The horrors of human trafficking are hard enough to talk about, let alone encapsulate in a song. Yet that was the task given to Emmy-winning ASCAP composer Timothy Hosman for his music to Trade of Innocents, a powerful thriller that sets a story of struggle, hope and redemption against the backdrop of the modern day slave trade. For help, Hosman turned to songwriting legend Randy Goodrum, a past ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee who was recently nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Together they crafted "Cracks in the Stone," an elegant ballad that captures the emotional complexity of its subject matter, and manages to be heartbreakingly beautiful at the same time. We asked Hosman and Goodrum how they did it.


What sort of guidance or direction did you receive from the Trade of Innocents creative team?

Timothy Hosman: After I had composed the bulk of the score, the conversation turned to how to handle the closing credits. I had the idea to write an end title song as a way for the audience to "come down" from this intensely emotional story. The team said "sounds great" and let us run with the idea. The moment the song idea was approved I picked up the phone and pitched the idea to Randy. His immediate response was "I'm in!"

Randy is honestly one of my songwriting heroes. It's no exaggeration to say hearing his great songs in my teens made me want to be a songwriter myself. We became pals through our mutual friend Jay Graydon. And while writing with someone of Randy's caliber could be very intimidating, his genuine humility and southern charm put any collaborator at ease.

Give us a window into the creative process for "Cracks in the Stone." Were you working together in the same room? Separate studios? Did it all come together smoothly, or did it take a bunch of revisions to get it right?

Randy Goodrum: We initially wrote together, in the same room. We wrote the bulk of the melody at first sitting, and then the lyrics were a back and forth process, in separate places.

TH: Randy lives in Tennessee and I'm in central California, but he often comes to the west coast to write. We sat down in my studio for a few hours and came up with the song musically. I suggested a lyric to open the chorus with but other than that we had only an overall concept. A "premise" as Randy calls it.

Randy flew home with a rough cut of the movie under his arm. Then he floored me a few days later by e-mailing over a heart-wrenching demo with the nearly completed first verse and chorus. There's a reason this guy is so revered among the songwriting elite (As a side note: Randy's poignant vocal on the demo was so good we feared it was unbeatable…which was a big problem because given the subject matter of the film we all agreed it would be best if the singer were a female).

Over the next week or so, we volleyed around the remaining lyrics, adjusted a few melodies and completed the song, but Randy really did the lyrical heavy lifting on this one.

The themes of human trafficking and sex slavery are of course incredibly serious ones, and difficult to talk about. How did you figure out how to address them lyrically?

RG: I have always liked the challenge of writing emotionally heavy subjects that other writers seem to want to avoid. This was one of those opportunities. Ultimately, it was about the power of hope and how it can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in one's life.

TH: Our intention was to write a song that could work outside of the film and not be too "on the nose" with the lyrical approach so as to relate to people within many different contexts. We felt strongly that we needed to make the lyric very personal, an intimate conversation. We are both fathers of daughters and we talked about what we would say to our own children if they themselves had been trafficked. It seems the only way forward would be to begin again.

There is a touching scene in the film with a kind grandfather reading a princess bedtime story to his young granddaughter. Combing the two thoughts we open the chorus with the lyric "A page is turned, the story begins…" Ultimately this is a song of hope, which is what I feel Randy's title captures so beautifully. In the harshest of climates, flowers can grow from "cracks in the stone."

The verse melody contains a theme from Timothy's score. Which came first? And did you always know that you wanted "Cracks in the Stone" to relate to the rest of the music that way?

RG: Personally, I was hoping that there was a musical section, motif, phrase in the score that we could build a song around so that the end song would be musically organically connected to the film. There indeed was such a melody, which ended up being the start of the verses.

TH: There were two melodies within the score that stood out as good candidates. I played both of them for Randy and he gravitated towards one more than the other. So we went with it. Next we said "Okay, let's make this theme the verse and write an original melody for the chorus." Within a moment Randy sat down and the piano and said "How about something like this?" and played verbatim the chorus melody that we ended up with.

Randy, you've commented that this is one of the best songs you've ever written. That means a lot coming from a Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee whose music has topped charts and earned Grammys! What is it about this song that you're so proud of?

RG: I'm proud of the song for many reasons. It's a very strong, memorable melody throughout. The lyrics are my favorite kind to write; concise, conversational and sincere. This could be a copyright, I hope, and have a life even beyond this picture, although I mainly want the song to be part of the strong underpinning of the total project.

Timothy, your daughter Hayley has done a remarkable job singing the song. How did you decide that she would be the vocalist, and what does it mean to you to have her singing the song?

TH: Finding the right vocalist took us on a bit of a wild ride. My first instinct was that my singer-songwriter daughter would do a great job, but I felt a bit awkward suggesting that to the team. Ultimately we had three different wonderful established singers record the song but the casting just wasn't feeling quite right somehow.

Running out of ideas, I finally went with my original thought and recorded Hayley on the sly. Then I submitted the demo giving her a pseudonym ("Elsie Jones") so that I could get honest reactions from everyone free of the "it's his daughter" conversation. We were overwhelmed with positive feedback and Hayley was unanimously chosen. It was a nice surprise for everyone to later learn that the singer was actually my daughter.

Given the subject matter of the film and how emotionally invested I became while composing over an hour of dramatic underscore, it is thrilling and profound to hear my own daughter's tender voice come in as the credits begin to roll. Her approach is so haunting and authentic.

What are your hopes for the song and the film?

TH: This is a small film that hopefully will start a large conversation and help to bring the suffering of so many into the public light. We are submitting "Cracks in the Stone" to be considered for a Best Original Song Academy Award, which would not only be personally gratifying but be a nice boost in getting the film wider attention.

RG: I hope the film opens people's eyes and hearts to the horrible truth about childhood kidnapping, abuse and the unimaginable horror of the child sex trade. I also hope people get the sense of how an ounce of risk, hope and effort can make a world of difference in someone's otherwise hopeless life.


Trade of Innocents opened in select theaters on October 5th, 2012. Find out more about the movie at www.tradeofinnocents.com.

Randy Goodrum on the web: www.randygoodrum.com

Timothy Hosman on the web: www.timhosman.com