Sing Me a Story…

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.

Bonus:

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.

Dream signature

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47 comments

  1. elleroy was here (@modmomelleroy)

    Oh I just love this list. First of all, I didn’t know that Pat Benatar had done a version of Wuthering Heights and I went into listening to it with some trepidation because I’m so accustomed to Kate Bush’s version, but it’s really quite good. Suzanne Vega – always a great choice. She is the queen of well crafted, richly told story songs. I had also never heard the Stevie Nicks song and it’s wonderful like everything she does.

    • Dream

      I had heard the Pat Benatar version when I was young, way before I ever heard Kate Bush’s original. I heard the Stevie Nicks on her In Your Dreams album from a couple years ago. I’m not positive, but I think that was her first recording of it.

  2. Lance

    Love your choices. I assumed people would pick stevie and suzannebecause they have great ones but the pat benatar was a pleasant shocker…loved it

  3. Louise

    I really like what you did with the theme this week – this is great! I love that there is a song version of Annabel Lee! And, really, anything from the White Album makes me pretty happy 🙂 The Ghost of Tom Joad was another new one I enjoyed. Thanks!

  4. Clark Scottroger

    I had (slight) Pat Benatar jones back in the 80’s so I knew the song by title, and have heard Ms. Bush’s version as well… prefer the former.
    Rocky Racoon…very nice select (my mind ran at the Beatles … got grabbed by Sgt Pepper, but couldn’t ‘see’ a single song producing a tale/story and headed other into the 70’s)

    • Dream

      I had considered using Maxwell’s Silver Hammer as my Beatles’ humor tale with the video of Steve Martin from the Sgt. Pepper’s movie (which I thought was the best part of the whole film).

  5. Kir Piccini

    Oh I really liked your list, I had never heard that Stevie Nicks song but I love it, her voice takes me to a time and place in my life that is just YOUNG.

    and you nodded to Bruce, a consummate storyteller for sure.
    thank you for expanding my musical palette this week.

    • Dream

      That’s one of the things I look forward to every Tuesday on this blog hop, getting exposed to all that music that may be outside of my normal listening range.

  6. findingninee

    My mind went to pre-90’s country music too. I LOVE that Iron Maiden song. Great choices! You can never go wrong with Dillon either when it comes to telling a story…

    • Dream

      After Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was the first song to come to mind, the Iron Maiden was the next one. Of course then I thought about 15 more IM songs and my mind just became chaos after that.

    • Dream

      Thanks! I kinda put the slower/softer type songs first and built up towards the Maiden. I wouldn’t normally mix such opposing musical genres, but I was more interested in fitting it into my literary theme.

    • Dream

      I’ve loved Rocky since I heard another performer in a bar sing it. I didn’t even know it was a Beatles’ tune at the time.

  7. Cheri

    LOVE your song choices, they were clever! I have to confess I busted up laughing when I saw “Rocky Raccoon” listed. I wrote a whole post about that song in relation to a raccoon we had when I was a small child. Since you like the song, I am guessing you will get a kick out of my post and hope you don’t mind me leaving the link for you (feel free to delete it). http://cherispeak.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/things-i-will-never-know/

    Also, I like this WordPress “theme”. I don’t think I have seen it before. It has a nice wide posting area.

    • Dream

      Thanks for the link, it was a wonderful post and living out in the country, I can completely appreciate having to deal with a lot of “critters”. I like the enlarged posting area of this theme too, gives it that simpler look I try to go for.

  8. Jen

    OK this is just plain brilliant. I almost went with your original idea as well. The wealth of story telling in old Country Western music makes it almost a no-brainer. But this theme within a theme. Really really impressed. Also, because I only knew your bonus songs and can I just say Rocky Raccoon is a favorite around here. The boy love’s anything with guns 🙂

    • Dream

      Sometime, I just have to use a sub-theme to narrow down my choices or I’d never get my list posted because I’d keep changing it. My son likes Rocky too, at least he likes the animated video on YouTube with the cartoon raccoons.

  9. Cheri

    OMG I am SO laughing right now…I popped back over to peruse your blog further, but when I got here the page wouldn’t load…it was all WHITE and as I sat here waiting I started thinking maybe it was a joke to go with the blog name so I figured I needed to scroll down past the joke…hahahahaha and then the page loaded. Yeh, quite a white room you have going here…I think you trapped me in it for a minute!!!

  10. Marcy

    I like your literary twist on the theme–very cool. My husband is in the same room with me now on his own computer, and he especially enjoyed the Iron Maiden. Rocky Raccoon is a great choice!

  11. Kath Galasso (@KatsTheory)

    What a great list. Tom Joad is a great choice and I thought about it since the Grapes of Wrath is high on my list of good reads, but in the end it was The River for me. Rocky… perfect choice, absolutely perfect choice.

    • Dream

      I first heard it by RATM. I think the Springsteen version fit better because its easier to understand the words, but its so much more awesome with Tom Morello.

  12. christine

    Well, I couldn’t be more impressed with your knowledge of both songs and the stories behind them. I am more of a “Hey, I know that song!” kind of person, who knows lyrics but usually has no idea who sings it or why. I have never heard any of these songs before. My 11 year old is sitting next to me watching a basketball game while I listened. I asked if all my music was bothering him. He replied, “No, it’s good music.” Hot dog! Thank you for the intro to some new ones for us.

    • Dream

      Thanks! I have an 11-yr old son as well, but he’s not quite as appreciative of my music. He takes more after his Daddy and likes country.

    • Dream

      I still remember Annabel Lee and O, Captain! My Captain by Walt Whitman. Interesting what stays with us throughout the years.

  13. Eli Pacheco

    Where Suzanne Vega and the Beatles are gathered in my name, I too shall be there. That’s not out of the bible. That’s just me talking. Awesome list!

    • Dream

      Thanks! I was determined to get Rocky Raccoon in somehow, even though I had to cheat to do it. I take free online classes on Coursera.com and the History of Rock professor is teaching a 6 week course on the Beatles starting in Feb. of next year. I can’t wait!

  14. Meg Hammil

    Great Choices! Never thought about Rocky as a story song, but of course it is. Funny how the same songs turn up on different lists, I used Tom Joad at Halloween on a Mix Tape of ghost stories.

    • Dream

      Thanks! I love Rocky and had been looking for just the right week’s theme to use it.

      I didn’t remember seeing the Tom Joad song before and wondered if I’d even seen your list. According to my comment, apparently I was too focused on the Johnny Cash song you’d used that week.