Six Tips to Convert Oral History into Lyrics


We all have a story. Some are more interesting than others, yes. But we all have our own story. It’s cool to think about just how many stories each person actually has. I’ve listened to a lot of people tell their stories over the years and they all have one thing in common, they are uniquely your own. No one else has the same life story as you or I. Parts can be similar, but none are the same. It’s pretty amazing.

There are many ways to tell your oral history. You could write a book, create a memoir or diary, film your own documentary, etc. But there’s also another way that’s short and to the point… a very fun way… it’s writing a song.

When you tell your story in a song, it’s different than a book or a documentary because it’s short, poignant, and often times contains only the most emotional, important, and impactful parts. It’s not as hard as you think to create a song from your own life story.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Figure out a time frame or specific life event you want to talk about.

  2. Write it or type it out in a paragraph form-just like you would if you were sending it to someone to read.

  3. Highlight the best sentences that describe what you want to convey when you read it back to yourself.

  4. Put the sentences in lines. One after the other. They don’t need to be long, as a matter of fact, they shouldn’t be long. 4 – 10 words is a good starting point.

  5. Start rhyming those lines with the end word of every two lines. See Rhyming the Words

  6. When you are done, bounce it off of someone – a friend, family member, co-worker – to get some feedback to see if they understand what you are trying to convey.

Once you have about a half a page of lines (typed) you’ll be on your way to having lyrics to a song. Keep in mind that it shouldn’t be too long because whatever you come up with is going to have to fit a two to four-minute-long song. It can be longer of course, but it’s better to have a shorter song a lot of times. Music listeners (like most of us) have a short attention span.

Tell your story! Let it out for the world to see! What’s your story?

David Hawkins