This post makes reference to this episode of the podcast Song Exploder.
One of my favorite albums of this year is “I’ll Be Your Girl” by the Decemberists. This week while I was driving in my car, I caught an episode of the podcast Song Exploder which features Colin Meloy breaking down how the song came to be. The album is a shift for the Decemberists into a kind of nostalgic, synth 80s pop. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but it’s since become something I listen to over and over again, particularly the song “Once in My Life.”
It struck me as I was listening to Meloy explain his process for putting the song together just how much different forms of writing are similar. Songwriting, like writing a short story, is a kind of amalgamation and alchemy. You start with a bit of melody and riff off of that. The melody is a theme, a tone, a voice that propels a story forward. There are backbeats and drums that keep the rhythm of the language moving. Characters provide...