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5 Personification Songs You Need To Know

5 Personification Songs You Need To Know

What is personification?

Personification is a form of figurative language.

It’s the act of giving inanimate objects or abstract concepts 
animate or living qualities.  You know, trees laughing, sun kneeling, guitars crying, watches grinning, etc.

“I’m A Little Teapot” is a great example. The teapot is talking, describing itself and giving itself human qualities.

It’s actually one of the hardest types of songs to write well, even for advanced songwriters.

When done correctly, it can create some great imagery and symbolism. It’s a way to take the familiar for someone and transform the scene so they feel an emotional connection to it or what’s going on.

So why do some songs that are supposed to be serious make you laugh when they use personification?

There are HUGE dangers associated with personification!

Think about it – trees laughing?  Who ever sees that – you’re asking your listener to imagine it and tie it to what you’re talking about in your lyrics.  So if you’re talking about an intimate moment between two people and the trees are laughing in unison with their happiness . . .

#1 Danger – Comic images in your listener’s head.

One of the hardest things to do is a whole song that personifies something.

The analogies become more strained – often because the comparisons are limited – but it can be done!


5 Personification Songs Done Well


George Harrison’s  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”  (India Ari & Santana)

In its simplest form, this is a song about a guitar crying, but, it’s really being used as a metaphor for the songwriting process and how the events in the world are tied to everything – even a guitar.

Story Behind The Song



David Wilcox  “Rusty Old American Dream”

Is a song written from the perspective of a rusted out Oldsmobile.  Note the mid-song capo change if you’re a guitar player (it’s in Open C tuning).

The song’s a metaphor for the progression of life and a life cyle we can all relate to on a couple levels.  Great object to select for the metaphor and the personification!


Mary Chapin Carpenter  “I Am A Town”

This is one of the best personification songs ever written.  It’s from the town’s perspective, and every single image, analogy and emotional tie to a small town is spot on.  This is one of my favorite songs.

And if I’m being totally honest, ahead of “The House That Built Me” in terms of imagery and song craft in my book.  A great song to study.

Song Analysis


Tim McGraw “Highway Don’t Care”

The highway is used as a contrast to the speaker in the song.  Can a highway have feelings?  No.

So the personification of the  highway using “the highway don’t care” is actually a true statement that helps make the contrast stronger.

The highway is also being used as a metaphor for running away – another great device in the song.


Jim Lauderdale  “I’m A Song”

Jim Lauderdale talks you through the creation of the song at the beginning of the video – so who needs me yacking about it!?

Note the pronoun switches and how the song’s speaker changes.  Pretty clever.


More Articles On Personification:


Best Personification Song “I Am A Town”

Figurative Language And More Songwriting Terms Explained

Personification In Songs

Pat Pattison: The Making Of Metaphors


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