Gedeon Maheux suggested a group blog for today. It sounded fun, so here’s my contribution.
What are some of your favorite “story songs”? Everyone loves music, but often times songs that tell a story stand head and shoulders above the rest. The musical tales these songs tell turn them into either one hit wonders, or classic generational hits. Which artists write the most loved story songs and is there a consensus on the best one of all time? We just may find out.
I thought this would be difficult, but it was surprisingly easy!
“And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle. Quite a graphic and hard-hitting sung tale of the ANZAC soldiers at Gallipoli. It’s been covered almost as many times as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, and a couple of those covers (The Pogues’, for example) are great, but I’d recommend hitting up iTunes for Eric Bogle’s recording on At This Stage.
“Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel. An admission to having some Billy Joel in my record collection will probably banish what little credibility I’ve managed to accrue over the years, but there you go. This is a song that I remember enjoying every time it came on the tape player in my dad’s car, and having dug it out again I still appreciate it — although I’m no wiser as to what on earth is going on in the prologue or epilogue. The Stranger is an album that really deserves to be given a chance.
“White Collar Boy” by Belle & Sebastian. The Life Pursuit is a great wee album, and this tune is my standout track from it. A gaolbreak tale told with fantastic humour:
You were chained to a girl that would kill you with a look.
It’s a nice way to die, she’s so easy on the eye.
Belle & Sebastian tend towards the slightly kooky, but this is probably one of the most accessible tracks of what I think is their most accessible album.
“Dic Penderyn (The Ballad Of Richard Lewis)” by Martyn Joseph. Martyn Joseph is the Welsh singer-songwriter with a tendency towards protest and a voice that knows how to make a point. “Dic Penderyn” is his telling of the hanging of an innocent man after the 1831 Merthyr Rising. This is a song that gives me shivers every time I listen to it.
“I Hung My Head”, a Sting song as recorded by the great Johnny Cash. Cash’s vocal drives home the sorrow and resignation of this bleak song’s protagonist. If you happen to lay your hands on the album, American IV, don’t let it go. The whole disc is fantastic.
For more sung tales check out the other participants of this group blog: