Jen Kehl at My Skewed View and Kristi at Finding Ninee host Twisted MixTape Tuesday, a blog hop that’s all about music. The premise is to create a five song mix based on the week’s theme. (You can click on the button above if you’d like to play along). Here’s Jen’s instructions for today’s topic:
Songs that tell a story. These can be epics or not. Just a story. You know, just not la la la I love you or I hate you or whatever….
When I first saw this song topic, my mind immediately went to country music. Let me qualify that to pre-90’s country music, when most singers were storytellers. I won’t give examples because knowing the music aficionados we have participating each week…someone will cover this. But for me, its too soon since the “genre we don’t normally listen to” week where I used country outlaws for my mixtape.
In trying to come up with my theme-within-a-theme this week, I looked at American folk singers, folk revivalists, and some of the current indie folk bands. I really felt the urge to do give this week a bit extra thought so I decided to use music that tells a story based upon classic literature.
1. Wuthering Heights – Pat Benatar. Written and originally performed by Kate Bush, the ghost of Catherine begs Heathcliff to be forgiven. While I generally like Kate Bush, I find the unique quality of her voice distracting on this song and believe the controlled power of Pat Benatar better suits the emotion of the story.
2. Annabel Lee – Stevie Nicks. Since high school, I’ve really adored this poem by Edgar Allan Poe and love that Stevie Nicks set it to music.
3. Calypso – Suzanne Vega. Based upon a portion of Homer’s Odyssey where the nymph Calypso enchants Odysseus with her singing, keeping him with her on an island for a number of years. The gods order her to let him go when it becomes apparent Odysseus still wants to return home to his true love, his wife Penelope.
4. The Ghost of Tom Joad – Bruce Springsteen w/ Tom Morello (RATM). The main influences of this song, John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath, the John Ford film adaptation and Woody Guthrie’s The Ballad of Tom Joad, come together in a modernized tale of making it through the hardships of life.
5. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Iron Maiden. A musical homage to the Samuel Taylor Coleridge epic poem of the same name, even using some of the verses as lyrics. A surprising number of Iron Maiden’s songs are in fact based on literary works and/or legendary myths and I had a time deciding which one to use. But this is my favorite. I chose a video of the original (lengthy) song that showed the lyrics.
6. Desolation Row – Bob Dylan. This one didn’t exactly fit into my sub-theme, but Dylan is the ultimate storyteller and I couldn’t let this week pass without one of his songs. In Desolation Row, he portrays a series of surreal scenes featuring historical, classic fictional characters and those he completely made up. There’s been much speculation about the influences and meaning of the lyrics. Though Dylan’s never confirmed or denied any of the theories, he once joked that it was about an area around a Coke factory in Mexico.
Bonus #2 (because the rest of this list is just too damn serious):
7. Rocky Raccoon – The Beatles. This one also doesn’t fit into my theme, but I really felt the need to add a dash of humor and this is one of my top five favorite Beatles’ songs.