Story Songs: Tell a story from someone else's perspective in song.

How to Respond

Using a title from the 'What's in a Title?' activity, write a new song that tells a story from someone else's perspective. The title you choose can be yours or one that was suggested by another member. Post your song in the comments below to receive feedback from Deidre, Mike, and your fellow songwriters.


  • Do a free write about a character from a local hang in your neighborhood. Describe the setting, the person, and how that person might see other characters.
  • Find a poetry collection and read one poem to get you in the mood to write.
  • Look up the lyrics of a favorite song of yours. Which phrases jump out at you as being particularly poetic? Which ones help move the story along?
  • Don't worry about how long your song is - focus on telling the story.


"Luka" by Suzanne Vega

"Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin


  • Choose a fellow Musical Exchange participant and ask them to tell you about themselves. Then try writing a story or song from their perspective.

 Click here for more Songwriting Exchange activities.

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Comment by Joseph Makoviecki on September 26, 2014 at 3:41pm

Mike Viola,

Thanks so much! I am out in the world singing this to new ears as often as I can. Just got back from a trip to Ohio and Michigan to play some gigs. Georgia next month. I'm thinking of recording this song soon. Any ideas? Keep it acoustic or try to add a band? What would you do?


Comment by Janet Noh on June 4, 2014 at 11:31pm

how i feel sometimes..


Girl leaves town. There’s no one to hold her back. No one to miss. No one to come with her. She keeps no friends so she can keep floating. But the detachment makes her feel empty. Instead of floating, she’s drowning in loneliness. 

Comment by Erica Lashley on June 4, 2014 at 10:30pm

this story doesn't really have an ending...but I wanted to leave something unknown for the listener, and I wanted the listener to imply things about the characters so that people would have different interpretations of what happened. I can't remember who came up with the "a long way home" title in the other activity, but it made me think of people running away physically or mentally. Here it is:

Comment by Anna Pearl Roseberry Belinda on June 4, 2014 at 8:53pm

Very personal song, but what's music if you can't share it?

Comment by Kaloni Baylor on June 3, 2014 at 11:14pm

@Hannah Larson That voice and those lyrics! I really like "On top of the World". I feel like it could be about anyone.

Comment by Megan Doyle on June 3, 2014 at 10:55pm

Hannah Larson I love this song! It reminded me about my own innocence and how the world changes and influences one's perspective. Also thought the melody had a great vibe!  

Comment by Deidre Rodman Struck on June 3, 2014 at 9:37pm

Zandi Holup, thanks for posting! I thought Kaitlyn's comment was well made regarding the name. Also thinking a bit of space after the first chorus would help.

The lyrics are so compelling! "Don't make an ass out of you and me" is such a fun line, maybe giving the word "me" an entire bar before going on to the next line would allow the listener to soak it in, otherwise it kind of flies by. Then the "reality" line could also be twice as long. Just little moments where we can take it all in.

Comment by Deidre Rodman Struck on June 3, 2014 at 9:24pm

Hannah Larson I have nothing to say about this song, except for it touched me, made me think of my own kids, and had me singing the hook after the song was done. Hope you can play this live somewhere!

Comment by Kaloni Baylor on June 3, 2014 at 7:17pm
Comment by Zandi Holup on June 3, 2014 at 5:37pm

Hannah Larson Hey Love! On Top of the World was my favorite song out of the two I have heard from you! This song made me want to smile and cry. When I read what you wrote about, I wasn't sure how it was going to work, I absolutely loved it! This pleasantly surprised me! This was truly touching and made me think of my little brother. xoxo


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