Imagine that a total stranger walks up to you and immediately starts telling you how sad and depressed he feels. What would your first reaction be? For most of us, we’d be trying to figure out how to get away from that person. But a lot of songwriters do exactly the same thing to their audience. To someone who is listening to the radio, or who clicks play on a song, the character singing the song is a total stranger. Why should the listener care about that person’s feelings?
Imagine a different scenario in which someone you’ve never met tells you that his dog just died. Even if you’ve never had a dog, you probably understand how much people love their pets, and how painful their loss can be. Everyone has experienced loss, so you can relate to that person on an emotional level. If he went on to talk about things like taking long walks together, playing fetch, or how comforting the dog’s companionship was during lonely times, you might feel his sense of loss even more deeply.
The point I’m trying to make is if you want listeners to care how you feel, tell them what happened. Draw them into the story and they will automatically relate to you. Writing is a great way to deal with emotions and if you’re only writing for therapeutic reasons, then venting emotion is fine. But if you are writing to connect with other people, you need to be able to look at your song from an outsider’s point of view.