One of my current favorite songs is “The Mute” by Radical Face.

It’s worth a listen and in it you’ll hear some amazing story telling.

Here are 5 story telling techniques I love:

1. Keep it simple. Don’t confuse big words with big heart. Small words can hold big emotion.

2. Have a progression. The story needs to move if you want the audience to.

3. Be honest. I don’t know the artist, but this song about feeling distant from his parents feels double dipped in honesty. Check out this verse:

“And through them days, I was a ghost atop my chair,
my dad considered me a cross he had to bear.
And in my head I’d sing apologies and stare.
As my mom would hang the clothes across the line
And she would try to keep the empty… from her eyes”

4. Make the words obey the art in unexpected ways. The songwriter could have said “She would try to keep the emptiness from her eyes,” but by personifying the empty as a thing the line grows in weight.

5. Not everything in life will resolve the way we want it to. There is art hidden in that tension.

Whether you’re a blogger, author, speaker, or parent with a kid who wants to hear a good story, there’s much to be learned from good music.

What have you learned from songs?