Stories about music that changed people's lives

Edited by Kyle Bylin

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About the Book

Songs become a part of the story of our lives. Their lyrics linger inside of us. We recall those words, but what we remember isn't what they meant to the person who wrote them. It's what they mean to us. We relate their lyrics back to the events that have happened in our lives. 


What you will read in Song Stories are personal essays written by influential music professionals and independent artists about songs that impacted their lives.


Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars" set NYU professor Cortney Harding's romantic notions of adulthood, The Velvet Underground's "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" played one night at a friend's place and changed startup founder Marc Ruxin's musical tastes, and Coldplay's "Lovers in Japan" reminds music writer Caitlin Teibloom of a college breakup and who she became through that experience.


This book will deepen your understanding of music. It'll extend your interpretation of a song beyond what it means to you to how the song has been experienced by another and the meaning it has created in his or her life. Reading each story and playing the song will allow you to hear what music sounds like through ears other than your own.

Book Reviews

Aram Sinnreich

Author of Mashed Up and The Piracy Crusade


Song Stories focuses on what makes music actually matter in our lives: the intimate, personal memories that we often associate with our favorite songs and albums. Written authentically and often touchingly by a range of professional writers and executives, this book will strike any reader with a love of music as simultaneously strange and familiar.”

Portia Sabin

Kill Rock Stars and The Future of What


“Reading this book reminded me of the many songs that were instrumental to my becoming who I am today — the songs that made me cry and the songs that saved my life, to paraphrase one of those actual songs. A good read for music lovers!”

Andrew Dubber

Music Tech Fest and New Music Strategies


“Music makes meaning for people in ways nothing else can touch. The specifics of memory — the emotional grit of lives lived and hearts broken. Song Stories are human stories — and this collection will not only resonate, but bring up dozens of your own you might have thought you’d forgotten.”

About the Editor

KYLE BYLIN is the author of Promised Land: Youth Culture, Disruptive Startups, and the Social Music Revolution, an essay collection that chronicles how disruptive startups and digital youth reshaped the music industry.


He has conducted user research SoundHound Inc. and Live Nation Labs. He has also served as a chart manager at Billboard and as blog editor at Hypebot


He has been featured as a source in news stories by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Marketplace Money, and MTV

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