Story-Songs; Love ’em or hate ’em?
M U S I C M O N D A Y
When I was growing up there seemed to be an inordinate amount of songs that were written as stories and set to music. They were always fun to sing along to, although on close examination many were corny. I don’t think there are too many story-songs being written anymore? (Michael Cargill just thought to himself, “Yes, for good reason.”) Anyway, here’s my list of catchy songs from the past that tell a story.
As usual, feel free to add to the list if I forgot something.
- Cat’s in the Cradle – Harry Chapin
- The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Gordon Lightfoot
- Alone Again – Gilbert O’Sullivan
- Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves – Cher
- Ode to Billy Joe– Bobbie Gentry
- Bobby McGee – Janice Joplin
- Brandy – Looking Glass
- Lola – The Kinks
- She’s Leaving Home – The Beatles
- Hotel California– The Eagles
- Mr. Bo Jangles – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
- Bad Bad Leroy Brown – Jim Croce
- One Tin Soldier – Coven
- Hurricane – Bob Dylan
- Fancy – Bobbie Gentry
Hmm…I’d have to go back to listen to lyrics, but I think there are still a whole bunch of musicians that still tell stories – Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Florence Welsh…
Haha! Yes and no. I’m not sure about Jimmy Buffett? Give me a James Taylor example. The ones I mentioned, and I’m older than you, have a real story, a beginning, middle and ending with characters, etc.
I know there are some modern day examples but it was MUCH more prevalent in the late 60’s and 70’s.
Jimmy Buffett – Woman Going Crazy on Caroline Street is an older one. Jamaica Mistake-a is more recent.
James Taylor – Copperline
Florence and the Machine – maybe not a full fledged story, but Dog Days comes close, I think (though I’d have to go back and listen again.
Also, some of Bruce Springsteens best songs are stories.
Definitely Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. One of my favorite Springsteen songs, Thunderroad.
I don’t believe dog days is the same type of thing. Listen to the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or Ode to Billy Joe. There’s a different quality – maybe more folksy?
Lots of songs tell a story of sorts but I think the classic story-song is a different breed.
I think I may have added some on my list that don’t make my point perfectly.
Just listened to Copperline and it’s definitely NOT a story. He’s just remembering random things from his childhood on Copperline.
Compare that to Dan Fogelberg’s Auld Lang Syne which is a story. The guy meets his ex girlfriend in the grocery store and tells what happens point by point.
Saw Gordon Lightfoot once. Slept through it. Comfortable seats though!
I always thought of Copperline as vignettes.
As far as albums, I would throw Styx Paradise Theater and Iron Maiden Seventh Son of a Seventh Son as telling a story through the whole album.
I ghink you nailed it above. Folk, and also country are used much more as story vehicles then I think any other genre, except maybe blues…
Oh, and Auld Lang Syne is a great example.
Btw, Gordon Lightfoot would’ve put me to sleep, too. ha!
I think a good blog topic could be “concept albums” – the ones you mentioned, also, Genesis, Pink Floyd, The Kinks, maybe Jethro Tull’s, A Passion Play?
Are there any Disney films made before Toy Story that didn’t have a song in the middle of it?
It’s why I can’t be arsed watching The Lion King again.
No, I can’t think of any that don’t have a song or two.
My favorite Disney period was between Little Mermaid and before Lion King – The soundtracks on those were really brilliant. Then I think their prolific song writer died and everything started to get boring. For example… Phil Collins doing, Tarzan. The songs weren’t very catchy.
Anyway, I feel your pain. You either love musicals or you hate them.
These are all really good examples! I personally liked my idea of Fancy and Hurricane, but they didn’t make the list! I like both of those Cher songs and definitely Alone Again Naturally. That’s probably my favorite. So depressing!
Yeah, as it was, I had 15… which two would you eliminate?