There are great characters who create great stories throughout history.

The best thing about those stories is that all you have to do is a little research, find the human side of all the facts, and bring it to life as a song.

OK, so maybe it sounds a little harder now that I’ve typed that out.

But, there are some great examples out there.

My favorites?

Richard Shindell’s “The Ballad of Mary Magdalen”

Ian Tyson’s “Bob Fudge”

Colter Wall’s version of “Bob Fudge”


Song Prompt:  Write A Song About A Real, Historic Person From Their Perspective
  • Write a song about a real, historic person from their perspective.
  • Avoid stating the facts, and try and turn it into their personal story from a first person point of view. Can you find the human element that turns the history lesson into an emotional ballad? In Shindell’s song, he’s telling a love story from the first person perspective of Mary Magdalen.
  • A few things to help get the song going:
    • What is the personal story in the history lesson?
    • How will the imagery and visuals you select tie to the historic facts? I.e., act as enhancements to the story – similar to how Shindell used the phrase “Jesus loves me, this I know” to highlight the song idea, and resonate with the hymn. Nice.  Can you find one or two in your lyric?
    • Why tell their story?  What’s your connection? Why this character?  Your connection may get you to the personal story!


How To Use The Prompt

Take fifteen minutes to “free style” on the song prompt topic.

We’ve also provided a chord progression to get you started.

If you haven’t done this before, we’ve provided a step-by-step to help you use the prompts in the creation of a song.

Chord Progression (if you need one):  Em   Am   D


What’s Next?

Step 1:  write for 15 minutes on one of the items (or similar) above

Step 2:  create a song idea from the above

Step 3: use the chord progression to write around

Step 4: use a song you like to write a ghost song off of if you’re having difficulty with a melody line