SongWriter is a podcast of stories and answer songs, featuring performances from Roxane Gay, Joyce Carol Oates, Gary Shteyngart, Sarah Jaffe, Michael Ian Black, Ted Leo, Susan Orlean, and others.
Michael Ian Black + Victoria Jones
Actor, comedian, and bestselling author Michael Ian Black tells a true story about youth, privilege, and stealing, and songwriter Victoria Jones speaks on religious faith and on owning our mistakes.
Ben Sollee + James Lindsey
Environmental activist and cellist Ben Sollee tells a story about learning that his family sold their ancestral land to a coal company. Songwriter and rapper James Lindsey reflects on fatherhood and performs his song “Hoop Sessions.”
Joyce Carol Oates + Tony Trischka + Jennifer Marks
Bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates reads a haunting story, and banjo legend Tony Trischka and songwriter Jennifer Marks each play songs written in response. The show was recorded at a live performance in New York City, with Grammy-nominated musician Tracy Bonham performing with Tony Trischka, and comedy legend Steve Martin in the audience.
Alison Gaylin + Colin McGrath
Author Alison Gaylin reads an excerpt from "Never Look Back," a novel based loosely on the Starkweather murders. Gaylin discusses how Caril Ann Fugate was understood at the time to be a willing accomplice (she is portrayed that way in Springsteen's "Nebraska" and "Natural Born Killers," which were also based on the notorious murder spree), but points out that Fugate was just 14 years-old when she was kidnapped and raped by Starkweather.
Songwriter Colin McGrath discusses the book, and how hard it can be to tell his young daughter the sometimes-awful truth. He plays "Dear Aurora Grace," his musical response to Gaylin's book.
Lauren Morrill + Justin Cutway + Vinson Muhammad
Lauren Morrill, who writes young adult fiction, tells a true story about adolescent infatuation and the humiliations it can cause. Acoustic guitarist Justin Cutway performs a song that he says was NOT easy to write, and rapper Vinson Muhammad performs a spoken word piece inspired by both Lauren and Lil Wayne.
Mike Veve + Johnny Leitera
Poet Mike Veve reads a ghost story on themes of homelessness at a live performance in New York City, and Johnny Leitera of the band Tuff Sunshine talks about writing with an assist from technology, and performs “Middle Man.”