“SongWriter” weaves storytelling and songwriting together to inspire uniquely collaborative works of art. In episodes, writers like Joyce Carol Oates share a story or poem, and they are paired with musicians like Katie Melua. Musicians are up for the challenge and interact with each writer’s work, crafting a song in response. What results is a fascinating cross-pollination of disciplines, talents, and idea interpretations.
Past seasons’ guests have included folks like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Roxane Gay, Amanda Shires of the Highwomen, Susan Orlean, Cheryl Strayed, and Katie Melua. In addition to sharing work from bestselling writers, episodes also share stories from everyday people. In a recent episode, using a pseudonym, a social worker shared a story from her stripper days. Then, Carsie Blanton played her new song, “Into the Light.”
“SongWriter” has been jammin’ since 2019 and just started its 4th season. Stay tuned for upcoming featured stories from Questlove, Mary Gauthier, Anthony Doerr, and George Saunders, and songs from Carrie Brownstein, Drew Holcomb, and Steve Earle. Start the episodes in any order, running less than 30 minutes on average.
Author Jonathan Lethem read an excerpt from his “dystopian pastoral” novel, The Arrest. Songwriter Tift Merritt reacted to the passage by writing the song “Asylum in a Mad, Mad World.”
Roxane Gay joined a few episodes. Last year, Roxane read her short story about love, friendship, and a women’s fight club, “Baby Arm.” Playwright and songwriter Aya Aziz performed “Push,” written in response to Roxane’s story and shared her songwriting process. In another episode, Roxane read one of her essays about love in times of COVID-19. Celisse Henderson and Toshi Reagon shared the songs they wrote after reading her essay.
This podcast hits all the right notes for literary appreciators, music connoisseurs, or anyone who likes to hear great stories from brilliant minds and how music and stories are interconnected – a fascinating kind of collaboration. Check out new, biweekly episodes wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.