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Story songs

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2013

Miss me? I’m not even going to try to explain my long absence; it would sound like whiny, self-absorbed psychobabble. I’m just going to ease back into things with some weekend music.

Some time back, I heard Blake Shelton say what sets country music apart from other genres is that country songs tell stories. Of course, that’s an over-generalization. There are country songs whose “story” is something like “let’s go drinkin’, honey.” And there are plenty of rock songs that tell stories. Dylan, Seger, and Springsteen come immediately to mind. But it’s true that country music is more often story-based than other genres. Here are some examples I really like.

Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy” is, IMHO, the quintessential story song, complete with a wonderful twist at the end. The first time I heard it, I laughed out loud.

[YouTube link]

 Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” is way more serious, but another great story song.

[YouTube link]

Bob Dylan half-wrote “Wagon Wheel” (mostly just the chorus) back in the early 70s, but never finished it. Thirty years later, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show wrote some verses, and it became the folk/bluegrass/string band’s signature song. Last year, they invited Darius Rucker to perform it with them at the Grand Ole Opry, and he’s recorded a more country version (with Lady Antebellum) that’s become a huge hit. Here’s the music video — if you’re a Duck Dynasty fan, you’ll especially get a kick out of it.

[YouTube link]

(BTW, I saw Darius Rucker at Red Rocks a couple of weeks ago on a perfect June night. Imagine 9000 people singing the chorus of “Wagon Wheel.” Yeah, it was awesome. For more Darius Rucker, who I think is the finest singer and songwriter of any genre working today, see my earlier posts here and here.)

A popular theme for story songs is reminiscing about the old days, and at my age I can get into that. The Boss reportedly really likes this one by Eric Church.

Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night

[YouTube link]

Toby Keith’s “Beers Ago” is a reminiscing song with a bit more of an edge to it — and an interesting way of keeping track of time.

[YouTube link]

That’s it for now. Hope you liked those.

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