An epistolary song is one where the lyrics are the words to a letter or written communique. The form dictates that it be told as a first-person narrative. The impact of an epistolary song is that it can place the listener into the role of voyeur. This is particularly true in cases where the "letter" is one written from one character to another, rather than to an unfocused "to whom it may concern" group.
Epistolary songs also tend to give the immediate sense that the singer is playing a character, rather than representing themselves. First-person TMBG songs tend towards leaving this distinction unclear, though Flans has said that he tends to write songs that are not autobiographical even though the lyrics say "I".
Most first-person songs are not epistolary. As examples, Lie Still, Little Bottle gives the impression of someone relating a conversation rather than reading someone's words; Four of Two is a straight-ahead first person narrative; I'm All You Can Think About explicitly conveys being spoken instead of written ("I pronounce these words...").
- I'm Your Boyfriend Now
- John Postal - The song quotes and references comments posted by the song's rather epistolary subject
- Memo To Human Resources - An epistolary song if one takes the title literally, though one might not get this sense just from the lyrics.
- Mr. Mischief Night
- My Brother The Ape
- Renew My Subscription
- By The Time You Get This
- You'll Miss Me - isn't explicitly a letter, but definitely could be.