Some of my favorite types of songs are the ones that tell a story. There’s just something about singing along to these tale-telling tunes that makes them so enjoyable. There are literally thousands of songs out there that aren’t just about love or sex or bumping and grinding. Many tunes masterfully weave a story that brings us in and stay within our memories for a long time after.
Here are some of my favorite songs that tell a story. I’m sure you’ll remember some of these. Feel free to leave some of your favorite storytelling songs in the comment section. Enjoy!
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown – Jim Croce
Who can forget this classic from 1973 about one bad dude from the South Side of Chicago? Watch Croce perform “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” on the Midnight Special in 1973 here.
*Notes – Croce was tragically killed in an airplane crash just ten weeks after the song hit number one. Frank Sinatra once covered the song, actually charting at #83 in 1974.
(December 63) Oh What a Night – The Four Seasons
This tune about a first time experience between two youngsters scored it big twice. The original masterpiece hit #1 in 1976 and again charted at #14 in 1994, when Dutch disc jockey Ben Liebrand reworked the song with added percussions. Take a listen to this version from the hit Broadway show “Jersey Boys.” here.
A Cher Trifecta
In her early days as a solo singer in the early seventies, Cher sang songs that told tales of growing up interracial, and stories of mysticism and thievery. The following three songs by the artist are still among my all time favorites to sing along to.
Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves – Cher
“I was born on a wagon in a travelin show…”
Thus begins a tale of poverty and heartbreak, masterfully written and a big hit for Cher. Check it out here.
Half Breed – Cher
This is another one of those early Cher tunes that’s got great lyrics. The record reached #1 in 1973 and shone a spotlight on what it was like living life as a young woman who was born half-Cherokee and half-white. Watch Cher perform the song on the “Sonny and Cher Show” here. Maybe you’ll remember the performance.
Dark Lady – Cher
“Dark Lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one…”
I just love this one! The imagery in the lyrics is wonderful and it conjures up thoughts of black magic and mysticism. Watch it here.
The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band
I was only fifteen when this song came out in 1979 and I remember the lyrics like it was yesterday. It tells a tale of the devil and Johnny, a young fiddle player. The devil proposes a deal with Johnny to compete in a fiddle contest, with Johnny getting a golden fiddle if he wins or giving up his soul if he loses. Awesome story telling tune! Check it out here.
Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna
This is one of Madonna’s most serious of tales, looking at the issue of a premarital sex, pregnancy, and abortion. The song was a critical and commercial success and the video, starring Danny Aiello as Madonna’s father won much praise, as well. Check it out here.
Stay tuned for more…