I, you, he, she, us, them...
Deciding which point of view to write your song from will fundamentally change the relationship between the characters in your song and the people listening to them. It’s the difference between, “I will always love you,” “she will always love you,” “Barbara will always love you,” and “We will always love you.”
Put simply, point of view in songwriting is the perspective through which the song is sung.
Let’s take a look at first-person narrative, second-person narrative, third-person narrative, as well as direct address, exploring how each point of view shifts the lens and feeling of a song.
Each point of view creates its own amount of closeness or proximity to a listener. Hearing a sad lyric or story about someone you don’t actually know personally is one thing, but having that same lyric sung about you, or even too you, is entirely different.
To quote Pat Pattison of Writing Better Lyrics, “Point of view controls our distance from the world of the song. Think of it as a movie camera, allowing the audience to look at the song’s world from various distances, from long shots to close-ups.”
From the most intimate to arm's length, they go as follows: