Songwriting as storytelling

Shayne Kaye

cc: Shayne Kaye

Sound Opinions is my favorite music podcast – implicit in that is the fact that the range of shows I listen to is rather limited (On that note, let me know what you like). Not many places that would play 50 Cent, a review of Animal Collective’s new album, and an interview with The Hold Steady – the point of this post – all in one show.

The point of this post is Craig Finn, The Hold Steady’s Springsteen-Dylan-Reed-esque storyteller/songwriter. Every songwriter would probably tell you their songs are telling a story, but Finn’s stories hit you over the head without being inane. On Boys and Girls In America – note the literary reference in the title – Finn tells stories of meeting a girl in the ‘Chill Out Tent’ at a rock concert, meeting girls at the South Town Mall, and a girl with a gambling problem. So, lots of girls, and lots of stories.

The interesting part of the interview for me was that Finn writes his lyrics separately, and then when his bandmates come with riffs and hooks and melodies, he picks which lyrics can apply to which set of sounds. And it works.

Check out the interview.

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