SongWriter

SongWriter

SongWriter turns stories into songs, ft. Joyce Carol Oates, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Roxane Gay, Amanda Shires (The Highwomen), Susan Orlean, Steve Earle & Katie Melua

Episodes

June 14, 2022 41 min

Author and former longtime “lieutenant” for Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever, (@LaurieWoolever) tells an exclusive story about a day in Sri Lanka when she fears that she would get killed over a bucket of fried chicken and a bottle of whiskey. Composer and songwriter Mike Ruffino (@MRuffino), who also worked with Bourdain for more than a decade, performs a song he wrote using inspiration and actual audio recorded during the...

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Biographer and social historian Mark Harris (@MarkHarris) tells the life story of Mike Nichols, one of the most influential directors of the 20th century. Anna Kline of the band Swift Silver (@SwiftSilverBand) talks about her reaction to Mike’s story, and shares the genesis of her vintage-vibing song, “The Picture Show.” Anna also speaks about her mother’s dementia from Alzheimer’s, and connects her ongoing grief to Nichols...

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May 17, 2022 23 min

Author and journalist Wright Thompson reads a story about the death of his beloved uncle, and how time and place memorialize our lives. Songwriter Drew Holcomb (@DrewHolcomb) talks about the loss of his brother at a young age, and performs his brand new song, “Slower Than the Highway.”

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Ned Martel, a producer of the Netflix series Halston, tells the life story of the mononymous designer, who first came on the scene when he designed the iconic hat Jackie Kennedy wore to the inauguration of her husband. 

Composer, producer, and songwriter Stephan Moccio (@StephanMoccio) talks about his work with The Weeknd, Celine Dion, and Miley Cyrus, and about the genesis of the song he wrote in response to Halston’s triumphan...

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April 19, 2022 32 min

Hospice social worker Zelda (who asks that her given name not be used for privacy reasons) talks about her time working as a stripper. She recounts moments both horrifying and sweet, and describes the many ways that the two jobs overlap.

Songwriter Carsie Blanton (@CarsieBlanton) talks about how she incorporates political content within the emotional framework of her songs, and draws parallels between what audiences ask of strip...

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April 5, 2022 29 min

Playwrights Jessica Blank (@JessicaCBlank) and Erik Jensen (@ErikJensen123) describe the genesis of their musical, Coal Country, a collaboration with Steve Earle (@SteveEarle). Steve talks about the role of empathy in songwriting, and plays his song “It’s About Blood,” which lists the names of the 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch mining disaster.

The show runs at the Cherry Lane Theater in NYC until April 17, 202...

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March 22, 2022 2 min

Delighted to announce the fourth season of SongWriter, which will feature stories from Questlove, Mary Gauthier, Anthony Doerr, and George Saunders, and songs from Carrie Brownstein, Drew Holcomb, and Steve Earle

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October 19, 2021 23 min

Legendary author Joyce Carol Oates reads her poem “Too Young to Marry, but Not Too Young to Die” at a live performance in San Francisco organized by Poets and Writers Magazine. International pop star Katie Melua shares a studio recording of a song she wrote in response called "Forever Sunlit," and talks about her evolving creative process.

The poem is about how what seems romantic to a young person looks increasingly laughab...

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October 18, 2021 66 min

Basic Folk is one of my favorite podcasts, and in this episode host Cindy Howes talks to Wesley Schultz about the history of The Lumineers up to now and his solo debut album.

About Basic Folk:
Basic Folk is a podcast with honest conversations between musicians and Cindy Howes, a well-versed public radio host and music curator, and guest host Lizzie No, a talented singer/songwriter. Basic Folk approaches interviews with warmth, humor ...

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September 21, 2021 21 min

During a live online performance, bestselling author Jonathan Lethem reads from his recent “dystopian pastoral” novel, The Arrest, about a farming community dealing with the worldwide collapse of technology. Jonathan also speaks about his long history of writing lyrics for bands including They Might Be Giants and the Silos. Songwriter Tift Merritt shares a studio recording of a song called “Asylum in a Mad, Mad World” that she wrot...

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September 7, 2021 33 min

Author and artist Keith Rosson reads his story, "Forgive Me This," and songwriter Antje Duvekot shares a studio recording of her song written in response, "Lottery Ticket." Keith, who has illustrated covers for Green Day and the Goo Goo Dolls, talks about his design and art work, and how his partial blindness informs his approach. Antje talks about her strained relationship with her father, and describes the inspira...

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August 24, 2021 28 min

Veteran Jeremy Welch talks about his experience as a soldier, and his struggles with addiction, suicidality, and depression. Songwriter Maia Sharp talks about meeting Jeremy at a Songwriting With: retreat, and they describe the process of writing their song, "These Boots."

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August 10, 2021 44 min

Bestselling author and MacArthur genius George Saunders reads the first half of his story, "Tenth of December," about a man who wishes to spare his family from the suffering around his illness and impending death. George describes how he first thought of the story, and the several angles he tried before it came into focus. This is accompanied by a studio recording of a song written in response called "If You Need Me,...

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Bestselling author and MacArthur genius George Saunders reads the second half of his story, "Tenth of December." George and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and fiddle player Amanda Shires (of The Highwomen) discuss art, suffering, and love over a lifetime. Amanda talks about the process of writing a song in response to the story, and shares a studio recording of "You Don't Get to Go."

This is part 2 of the story....

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July 27, 2021 28 min

Bestselling author Polly Samson reads an excerpt from her novel, A Theater for Dreamers, about a young woman's time on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1960s. Polly and her husband David Gilmour, of the band Pink Floyd, discuss their long collaborative relationship, and describe writing the song "Yes, I Have Ghosts" in response to a passage in the book.  David also talks about the process of finding inspiration for new ...

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Lucia Berlin died years before her collection "A Manual for Cleaning Women" became an international bestseller. Berlin's friend and former student Elizabeth Geoghegan talks about her life, and reads her story, "Mama," and songwriter Rebecca Rego shares a studio recording of a song written in response.

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June 29, 2021 22 min

Author Nicholson Baker reads an excerpt of The Anthologist, and songwriter Rod Picott performs a song written in response called "Losing Faith." The two friends also discuss cross-arts explorations, self-doubt, and the importance of a good sandwich.

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June 15, 2021 31 min

Bestselling author Sarah Hepola reads an excerpt from her memoir "Blackout," and songwriter Matt the Electrician shares his own experiences with blackouts and studio recordings of TWO songs that he wrote in response.

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June 1, 2021 18 min

Author and veteran Odie Lindsey reads an excerpt from his novel, "Some Go Home." Odie's friend, Grammy Award-winning songwriter Mary Gauthier, talks about how she came to know him, and shares a studio recording of her song, "Then Go Home," written in response.

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Bestselling author Roxane Gay reads a piece called "Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You," about love in the pandemic, and making a home with her wife, Debbie Milman. Songwriter and actor Celisse Henderson talks about writing her song, and about properly understanding the work of rock pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharp. Songwriter, composer, and producer Toshi Reagon speaks about how she constructed her song, "Y...

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