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djberg96 (2603)

djberg96
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Journal of djberg96 (2603)

Tuesday November 16, 2004
12:16 PM

Storytellers

[ #21880 ]
I find that I tend to really songs that tell some sort of story, usually from a first person point of view. For example, Kate Bush's Experiment IV tells the story of the construction of a sound based weapon that goes awry. One of my favorite Genesis tunes is Home by the Sea, the story of a thief who breaks into a house, only to discover too late that it's haunted and that he will now be a permanent member. Genesis tends to have many 'storyteller' style songs. From the Rolling Stones we get Sympathy for the Devil.

Are there any good ones out there I'm missing?

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  • These aren't first-person, but they rule: "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol" by Bob Dylan, and "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon.
    --
    rjbs
  • Most of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska [allmusic.com] would qualify, as would lots of his other work.
  • I was listening to the radio [indie1031.fm] last Saturday when Stan Ridgway [stanridgway.com] was on talking about how listening to some songs is like watching a movie. They played El Paso by Marty Robbins [twin-music.com], and stuff from Luke the Drifter (aka Hank Williams' darker side). Some of my favorites are Fairport Convention's many versions of Matty Groves, Johnny Come Lately by Steve Earle, and 1952 Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson.
  • by Tom Waits, from _Nighthawks at the Diner_ is probably my favorite story that fits the bill.

    -- Douglas Hutner
  • there's always The Eagles' Hotel California
    • there's always The Eagles' Hotel California

      Auugggghhhh, nooooo!!!! Let me out! Let me out!

      • You can check out any time you like runrig, but you can never leave. >:)
      • Many of the songs written by Don Henley have very political themes. Boys of Summer is about the lost ideals of the 60s, the 'Deadhead stick on a cadillac' line is a reference to the city slick, who still believes he's a rebel. I wouldn't necessarily say they were story songs though. Even Hotel California is written about a time in the 60s/70s when it was easy to get sucked into the drugs and fame of the LA scene.
        • Nitpick: that's "deadhead stickER on a cadillac" -- those dancing bears [liquidblue.com] or the red, white and blue skull with a lightning bolt [liquidblue.com] used to be on all sorts of cars in the US. Does anyplace else in the world consume as many car stickers as we do?
          • Ooops! Sometimes I think faster than I can type.

            In the UK we tend to have car stickers that are stuck on windows. Mostly flags, places where people have been or groan-worthy ones that say things like 'Programmers do it with software'.

    • Subterranea by IQ (or The Wake)
    • Every song on Marillion's first three albums, plus their epic Grendel.
    • Then Came The Last Days Of May by Blue Öyster Cult
    • Operation:Mindcrime by Queensrÿche
    • A Campfire Song by 10,000 Maniacs (in fact the complete album, In My Tribe)
    • Karn Evil 9 by Emerson Lake & Palmer (okay thats stretching it a bit ;))
    • The Wall by Pink Floyd (someone had to mention it!)
    • ... And of course American Pie [faqs.org] by Don McLean :)
  • You (and by you, I mean us yanks) can't forget the traditional Thanksgiving song, Alice's Restaurant :-)

    Though it's really more of a story than a song, that is, a story with background music, kind of like (and now for something completely different) The Gift [lyricscafe.com]

  • You mentioned McLean's "American Pie", but left out "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo Guthrie. :D

    I might also make mention of :

    Spocks Beard's album _Snow_ is in and of itself an entire story.
    Ayreon's _Universal Migrator_ albums (there's two)
    Charlie Daniels Band "Devil went down to Georgia"
    Styx _Paradise Theater_
    Jethro Tull _Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, Too Young to Die_ album is another classic.
    The Flower Kings _Unfold the Future_ while not necessarily telling a story in a single song, does a good job of conveying
  • For storytelling songs, I've always liked Stan Rogers. http://stevebriggs.superb.net/stanrogers/main.html [superb.net]

    He died in a plane crash in the early 80's, but his music is still popular - go into any pub in the Maritimes and start singing "Barrett's Privateers" and you'll instantly get drowned out by better voices. (That plane crash was the "spark" that got airlines to put smoke detectors in the washrooms to follow up on the "no smoking" regulations that had just started to come in for many flights.) I've alwa