Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stories in Song

Steve Almond talks about song and how it's a great way to study concise storytelling. When you think about it, it makes sense; songwriters have to do it in three minutes.

Because I can, I want to share my top five* storytelling songs. As always, this isn't in any particular order and subjected to change at my discretion.

No Surprize by Aerosmith
Technically, this is an autobiography in song, but still damn impressive to encapsulate their rise to fame in such a short amount of time. I'm pretty sure there was a line in my long-deceased contract that said "learn this song by heart."

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul, and Mary
Everyone had an imaginary friend growing up, and the protagonist of this song is no different. We learn about their relationship and what happens when you give up your imaginary friend.

The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
Some guy gets advice from a wizened gambler on how to handle life.

A Boy Named Sue by Johnny CashPretty good parable about what happens when you name your boy after a girl. (Okay, so there *might* be more, but you can figure it out.) Bonus: written by Shel Silverstein

Tribute by Tenacious D
Two guys are challenged to a musical duel with the Devil.

Bonus Song!
American Pie by Don McLean
It's technically nonfiction, but still. Don McLean conveyed the aftermath of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens.

What songs tell you great stories? Share below!

* Originally this was supposed to be the top ten, but I'm tired so you only get half.
Last.fm hit of the day: Raining When I Go by Spyder Baby


  1. Great list!

    Isis by Bob Dylan.

    My all-time favorite story song.

  2. Ooh, great list! Okay, confession--I think Eminem is a great storyteller. Both "Stan" and "Kim" are creepy, but reach a climax and eerie resolution.

  3. I agree w/ Pam about Eminem...he does tell some good stories with his songs. Also Incubus "Warning" tells a pretty good story about a girl who is out of her element and trying to come to terms with finding out who she really is... and believe it or not Lil' Wayne tells a good story every now and then, too. He has a song called "Let the Beat Build" on The Carter III and he uses music and beats to tell the story of how he came from nothing to being the rap star he is :)

  4. This is so true. Adele or Sara Bareilles are great story tellers. Their songs tell such deep and sometimes dark stories.

  5. Puff the Magic Dragon was my favorite song when I was little! My dad used to play his guitar and sing it for me in the evenings before I went to bed. I'm sure he got totally sick of it after the first two dozen times, but he never said no when I kept asking for it. :)

  6. Pam is totally right about Eminem. Stan tells such a scary story. I'll have to check out these other mentions.

    Thanks for stopping by ladies!


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