#1  
Old 07-23-2009, 02:22 PM
Dogzilla Dogzilla is offline
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Songs With a Plot

This morning, for some inexplicable reason, I had this really awful story song stuck in my head, The Last Game of the Season by David Geddes. (link to lyrics, try not to vomit)

I was just wondering what other songs you can think of that are more like a narrative and tell a story.

Another cheesy one I thought of was Run, Joey, Run.

And I think there's a story in the song about the Tallahatchee bridge, Ode to Billie Joe.

Up the Junction by Squeeze
Auld Lang Syne by Dan Fogleberg

What else ya got?
  #2  
Old 07-23-2009, 02:23 PM
Beadalin Beadalin is offline
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Pretty much every ballad fits the bill. A few by Nick Cave sprang to mind, especially from his album Murder Ballads.

And many folk songs, protest and otherwise.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:28 PM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:29 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Almost everything by The Decemberists.

Up The Junction - that's a good one! Kudos to the OP for even remembering it.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:29 PM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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Little Red Corvette by Prince would also fit.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:30 PM
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Rocky Raccoon.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. Esp the Brenda and Eddie bit.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:35 PM
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The 70s were the golden age of ballads. Just a few:

Brandy - Looking Glass
Patches - Clarence Carter
The Ballad of Curtis Loew - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Papa Was a Rolling Stone - The Temptations
Night Moves - Bob Seger

It's a shame more artists aren't doing ballads today.

Last edited by Spoke; 07-23-2009 at 02:36 PM.
  #8  
Old 07-23-2009, 02:36 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Tweeter and the Monkey Man, by the Traveling Wilburys.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:41 PM
PoorYorick PoorYorick is offline
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The first song that popped into my mind was Timothy by the Buoys. It's "the unnerving story of three men trapped in a collapsed mine, two of whom apparently resort to cannibalism against the third (the titular character Timothy)."

Gah, why do I remember this? I probably need to see somebody.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:41 PM
WOOKINPANUB WOOKINPANUB is offline
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My favorite plot song is "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia". It's got adultery, murder and corruption.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:42 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts - Bob Dylan

Last edited by silenus; 07-23-2009 at 02:43 PM.
  #12  
Old 07-23-2009, 02:44 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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Lots of Jim Croce--Bad Leroy Brown, You Don't Mess Around with Jim, Operator etc

Harry Chapin--Taxi, Cat's in the Cradle

Kenny Rogers --The Gambler, Coward of the County

Charlie Daniels--The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Uneasy Rider

Lynyrd Skynyrd --The Ballad of Curtis Lowe

Steve Earl--Copperhead Road

Johnny Horton--The Battle of New Orleans,Sink the Bismark

Don McClean--American Pie

Peter, Paul, & Mary--Puff the Magic Dragon

Last edited by Oakminster; 07-23-2009 at 02:45 PM.
  #13  
Old 07-23-2009, 02:51 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
That's just the song I was going to cite. I'm surprised someone has not yet turned it into a movie.

Stranger
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:55 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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The Who: Sally Simpson, A Quick One While He's Away, Magic Bus, I Can See for Miles, 905, My Wife, Cousin Kevin,
The Kinks: Lola, Sitting in the Noonday Sun
The Beatles: She's Leaving Home, Rocky Raccoon.
The Byrds: Chestnut Mare
Lyle Lovett: Nobody Knows Me, L.A. County, She's No Lady, Church, San Antonio Girl, On Saturday Night, If I Had a Boat
Little Feet: Dixie Chicken
Loudon Wainwright III: The Man Who Couldn't Cry
Hayes Carll: She Left Me For Jesus
The Band: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Weight, Acadian Driftwood
Procol Harum: Something Following Me, The Milk of Human Kindness, She Wandered through the Garden Fence, Something Following Me
Traffic: Feelin' Alright
Warren Zevon: Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, Lawyers Guns and Money, Excitable Boy
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:08 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Weird Al Yankovic: The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota; The Saga Begins
The Kinks: Holiday Romance
Mono Puff: The Devil Went Down To Newport (Totally Rocking)

And more are mentioned in this thread, which reminded me of the greatest one of all: Barry Manilow's Copacabana.
  #16  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:22 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Marty Robbins: El Paso

Jan and Dean: Dead Man's Curve

Shangri-La's: Leader of the Pack

Jeannie C. Riley Harper Valley PTA

O.C. Smith The Son of Hickory Hollow's Tramp

Janis Ian: Society's Child

Bobbie Gentry Ode to Billie Joe

Meat Loaf Paradise By the Dashboard Light
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:25 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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Also from the sultry Bobbie Gentry, Fancy.

Last edited by Oakminster; 07-23-2009 at 03:25 PM.
  #18  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:25 PM
The Other Jeffrey Lebowski The Other Jeffrey Lebowski is offline
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Bruce Springsteen has many songs that fit this, but I'll offer an overlooked one.
  #19  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:26 PM
Doug Bowe Doug Bowe is offline
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A few Country songs have been mentioned. Let's include pretty much the songbook of Tom T. Hall. There was a reason his band was nicknamed "The Storytellers."
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:32 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gimme Three Steps

Heard a cover of this by some local band. They got the verses out of order. So the guy was running from the bar screaming, then staring down the barrel of a 44.
  #21  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:58 PM
Zakalwe Zakalwe is online now
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Jimmy Buffett has a number of them (a few off the top of my head):

Death of An Unpopular Poet
He Went To Paris
The Ballad of Spider John
Cuban Crime of Passion
Jolly Mon Sing
The Great Filling Station Holdup
A Pirate Looks at Forty
Peanut Butter Conspiracy
Railroad Lady
  #22  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:58 PM
Sitnam Sitnam is offline
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Life in the Fast Lane - The Eagles
  #23  
Old 07-23-2009, 04:26 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gimme Three Steps

Heard a cover of this by some local band. They got the verses out of order. So the guy was running from the bar screaming, then staring down the barrel of a 44.
That reminds me of the joke about what happens when you play a country song backwards.
  #24  
Old 07-23-2009, 04:55 PM
dwc1970 dwc1970 is offline
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"Horse With No Name" by America.
  #25  
Old 07-23-2009, 05:10 PM
kelly5078 kelly5078 is offline
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Well, there are millions, aren't there?

Arguably the most well-known plot in American music is "Frankie and Johnny." A person inclined to argue that would probably bring up "Stagger Lee."

The most well-known plot in the English language, I'd submit, is "Barbara Allen."
  #26  
Old 07-23-2009, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts - Bob Dylan
Ahh, Bob may not be a sweet-sounding singer, but he does have a way with words.
Add to Bob's Bodacious Ballads:

Tangled Up In Blue:
"She was married when they first met,
To a man four times her age.
He left her penniless in a state of regret --
It was time to bust out of that cage."

(Yeah, Bob changes the lyrics around when he performs)

And he teamed up with playwright Sam Shepard for the cryptically poetic
Brownsville Girl:
"Well, the first thing we learned about Henry Porter was that his name wasn't Henry Porter..."

One of the few songs whose lyrics I've actually studied. It was lauded in the "Best First Lines" thread:
"There was this movie I seen one time, and it starred Gregory Peck."
Well, listen as his relationship to the movie changes with each verse... no, I haven't figured it all out yet.
  #27  
Old 07-23-2009, 11:32 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Commander Cody's Hot Rod Lincoln.
  #28  
Old 07-24-2009, 03:11 AM
Johnny Q Johnny Q is offline
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Buenos Tardes Amigo-- Ween
  #29  
Old 07-24-2009, 03:17 AM
digs digs is offline
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A BIG MISTAKE by Jeb Loy Nichols (and his old band Fellow Travellers)
Jeb has a number of great stories, including one set to just drums and tuba:

"And they got married, and that was A Big Mistake.
They had a baby, and that was A Big Mistake..."


The bouncy beat and oompa oompa tuba makes the heartache hilarious.

Also check out "Mary, Her Husband, and Tommy, Too" or "New York Tragedy"

THE STRANGE CASE OF FRANK CASH AND THE MORNING PAPER by T-Bone Burnett
has the protagonist on trial for killing a man:

"Your honor and ladies and gentlemen of the jury,
all this has been happening to me because of this guy
named T-Bone Burnett. He's been making all this up,
and I just want to say I don't believe in him,
in fact I don't even think he exists, and not only that
BUT THIS SONG IS OVER."
  #30  
Old 07-24-2009, 03:22 AM
Junior Spaceman Junior Spaceman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Q View Post
Buenos Tardes Amigo-- Ween
An excellent song. Also, Beck's Mexico. By the way, if anyone knows what this song is a parody of, I'd love to know!
  #31  
Old 07-24-2009, 03:56 AM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Isaac's Lament, by Uncle Bonsai; about someone who commits suicide on hearing that The Love Boat has been cancelled.
  #32  
Old 07-24-2009, 04:48 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oakminster View Post
Also from the sultry Bobbie Gentry, Fancy.

Sultry? Really? I've heard her music but I always figured she was some overweight-ish Grand Ole Opry lady in a matronly high collar blouse, maybe like June Carter Cash.

Let's see what Google Images has to say . . . oh. Ahem. Well, then.
  #33  
Old 07-24-2009, 04:56 AM
I_Know_Nothing I_Know_Nothing is offline
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Rainy day SAT Blues from the Princeton Review Vocabulary Minute. Brought a tear to my eye.

www.princetonreview.com/vocab-minute.aspx

Ninth from the bottom. Enjoy.
  #34  
Old 07-24-2009, 08:31 AM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
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You Never Can Tell -- Chuck Berry
  #35  
Old 07-24-2009, 09:05 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Folk singer Tom Paxton has tons of them. The best is Born on the 4th of July.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 07-24-2009 at 09:05 AM.
  #36  
Old 07-24-2009, 09:26 AM
johnspartan johnspartan is offline
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yeah, you've got a whole genre here, practically. Several of the ones on the 2-disc "Once Upon a Song" set (http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Song...8441873&sr=8-5) have already been called out here.

Although I do have to say it's marginal for them to have put "At Seventeen" as a story song, I don't really think there's much story in it.
  #37  
Old 07-24-2009, 11:09 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda by Eric Bogle, popularised by the Pogues. Link to lyrics - try not to cry.
  #38  
Old 07-24-2009, 11:14 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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I love this song, "The Flower of Northumberland":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni3CTxCblZA
  #39  
Old 07-24-2009, 11:20 AM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Alice's Restaurant is a lengthy tale about littering with just enough music to qualify as a song.
  #40  
Old 07-24-2009, 11:35 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Kinky's They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore
  #41  
Old 07-24-2009, 12:48 PM
EvilHamsterOnCrack EvilHamsterOnCrack is offline
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Date Rape by Sublime has a plot... and it's pretty funny.
  #42  
Old 07-24-2009, 09:09 PM
digs digs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
Isaac's Lament...
Ah, but don't forget Cream's over-cockneyed Mother's Lament. Some of you have heard that my twisted little toddlers HAD to have it sung in the tub each night:

A muvver was warshing her bayby one night,
The youngest of ten and a delicate mite.
The muvver was poor and the baby was thin,
'Twas naught but an skellingtin covered with skin.
[snip]


And, yes, the immoral anklebiters always giggled at the part:

Ohhh, your bayby has gone down the plug 'ole.
Oh, your bayby has gone down the plug.
The poor little thing was so skinny and thin,
He should 'ave been washed in a jug (in a juuuug...)

...
  #43  
Old 07-25-2009, 09:23 AM
Mr. Kobayashi Mr. Kobayashi is offline
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Kinda depends on how you define 'plot', too; if you count "boy meets girl" as a plot then every other song has a plot.

Dylan has quite a few, as well as the aforementioned Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts and Tangled up in Blue, you could also add Black Diamond Bay, Changing of the Guards, most of his "Ballad of..." songs, Who Killed Davy Moore, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll and about a billion more.

Most songs from The Alan Parsons Project's Tales of Mystery and Imagination also do, being based on Poe stories.

House of the Rising Sun.

Black Sabbath have one or two; The Wizard and Iron Man spring to mind.
The Clash have Rock the Casbah, Spanish Bombs.

David Bowie's Space Oddity, Ashes to Ashes and Peter Schilling's Major Tom.

Land Ho! by The Doors.

Hotel California by The Eagles.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Iron Maiden.

Led Zep's Ramble On, Gallows Pole, Fool in the Rain, Going to California, Battle of Evermore.

99 Luft Balloons by Nena.

Don't Stand So Close To Me by The Police.

The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkle.
  #44  
Old 07-26-2009, 07:00 AM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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The Pina Colada Song,cant remember the artist.
  #45  
Old 07-26-2009, 09:46 AM
Labtrash Labtrash is offline
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Bad Company's Shooting Star
  #46  
Old 07-26-2009, 10:28 AM
It's Not Rocket Surgery! It's Not Rocket Surgery! is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Weird Al Yankovic: The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota; The Saga Begins
...and the ultimate Weird Al story songs, Trapped In The Drive-Thru and Albuquerque.

Also, Family Snapshot by Peter Gabriel.
  #47  
Old 07-26-2009, 12:04 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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More from the 70s:

Chevy Van - Sammy Johns
Ariel - Dean Friedman
Uneasy Rider -Charlie Daniels
I Do It for Your Love - Paul Simon
Convoy - C.W. McCall
  #48  
Old 07-26-2009, 01:07 PM
tr0psn4j tr0psn4j is offline
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I'll add two of my favorites.

Paul Revere - Beastie Boys

The Mariner's Revenge Song - The Decemberists.
  #49  
Old 07-26-2009, 01:14 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Tons of songs from musicals. The point of many songs from musicals is to carry the plot along.
  #50  
Old 07-26-2009, 01:35 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suranyi View Post
Tons of songs from musicals. The point of many songs from musicals is to carry the plot along.
Yes, but I think a distinction can be made between songs that have a plot—where the song itself tells a story—and songs that have a backstory, where the song grows out of or comments on elements of the story. Many of the songs in musicals, as well as a few that have been mentioned in this thread, are of the latter kind.
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