August 2019 assignment

Write a character-driven song

It’s not about the vibe or the production, not about the musicianship or even the story line. Character-driven songs take a deep dive into the central character’s personality. It’s not what happens, it’s how he or she reacts to what happens.

A good character song can describe an actual person, but from a perspective closer than any biography. It can create a fictional character who seems too real to be made up. The story can be told in the first-person or as the narrative of an observer close enough to understand the character’s motivation. The storytelling works because the character is convincing. 

You know a great character-driven song when you hear one. Now, write one.

The Song Journal: How To Be A Storyteller in Songwriting

The Guardian: Readers recommend character songs

“Eleanor Rigby” by Lennon/McCartney, performed by The Beatles

“She’s Leaving Home” by Lennon/McCartney, performed by The Beatles

“Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” by Kris Kristofferson

“Wichita Lineman” by Jimmy Webb, performed by Glen Campbell

“Lola” by Ray Davies, performed by The Kinks“Allison” by Elvis Costello

“Veronica” by Elvis Costello