Based on a creative idea from Gedeon Maheux of iconfactory fame, here is my (horribly late) Story Songs post. Please be kind.
I thought it would only be fair to use the songs I thought of right off the bat when Ged first mentioned the idea. However I feel compelled to explain a bit about where they come from. I liked the idea of the blog post first because it sounded fun and would get me motivated to write a little something, but I also liked it because I’ve always been a fan of songs with a little novelty to them. I think its something that could paint me in an unflattering light just as easily, because (and this is where I felt compelled to explain) I’ve always been pretty lenient when it comes to music. (I was nervous the intelligentsia would poo poo my taste in music as provincial.) I like most things I come across, I like to think I can enjoy almost anyone’s music (having said that, I have to also admit I can’t stand Country music, except maybe the stuff my Dad used to listen to, which is now officially “Old Country”.) My relative new finding is folk music, which I have never really listened to but have been enjoying in small doses lately. To sum up, anything new and different to listen to is ok by me.
So without further delay, here’s a few of my favorite Story Songs.
1. Michelle Shocked “Anchorage” Short Sharp Shocked
Choosing this song, which I first listened to years ago around the time I was at Mass College of Art, was a no brainer. It seemed a pretty obvious choice, since the style of Folk music, and Michelle’s style of singing in this album and song in particular is very much pure storytelling. Its not hard to see why her debut was so popular, I really love her voice, and the story is sentimental, like me.
2. Dire Straits “Skateaway” (Rollergirl) Making Movies
I loved the video that they made for this song, it told the story of someone surrounded by so much city but still in her own world, with music, perfectly. I didn’t have to live in NYC to appreciate it, (but I did.)
3. Jim Croce “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” (or Bad, Bad Leroy Brown take your pick) Jim Croce’s Greatest Hits
Without meaning to, I’m picking music thats older than I am, but I defy you to not sing along to either of these two songs driving in your car somewhere away from the Cape Cod traffic where you can drive fast enough to enjoy the experience. Some of my earliest memories of music have Jim Croce albums in them, as his tragic death in a plane crash was upsetting to hear about for a little kid. Time in a bottle was a killer in retrospect to his death, and years later “New York’s Not My Home” was a pretty tough song to listen to in my sad little Manhattan apartment all alone.
4. Chris Smither “No Love Today” (The fruit and vegetable song) Drive You Home Again
I heard Chris singing this song on NPR one night, and the lyrics were so amazing I scribbled down just enough to look it up on the internet when I got home so i could get the album. For it to count in the Songs that tell a Story category you’ll want to find a live version where he explains the roots of the “the fruit and vegetable man” who figures prominently in the song. Chris lives in Arlington Ma, and if I had to guess, from what I’ve pieced together its because after coming to Cambridge for the folk scene he married a Bay Stater. He travels so much, I mean SO much I can’t believe his schedule, but I keep waiting for a show here at home so I can see him live. He is why I got turned on to Folk music, he’s a perfect addition to this list.
5. They might be Giants “The House At The Top Of The Tree” NO!
I love just about everything these guys have done. My good friend Dion in NYC turned me on to them with the single “The Sun” and I was hooked. I also lived in Brooklyn, (where they lived) and saw them live at shows in the city many times. This song is in this list because its a great little trip to a house at the top of a tree and back down, its sweet and funny and another one you will find yourself singing in that car with the windows down.