I’m kind of mixing my metaphors but some songs have such vivid imagery, you can see and experience their characters and time and place. I think it adds another dimension to the song and can make a mediocre song good and a good song great. Some examples:
“Piano Man” is probably the classic example of what I m talking about. With just a few words, you can see that bar and feel like you know the people in it.
“Don’t Stop Believing” Not as complete as “Piano Man” but still pretty vivid, especially the first few verses.
“Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Folgelberg. The song that always makes you wistfully sad at Christmas time.
John Fogerty used to write very evocative lyrics for CCR, and was very good at painting a picture in your mind. That’s one reason that, when he made his big comeback in the Eighties, he was very ambivalent about music videos.
A song like “Green River” paints a vivid picture, one that would be sort of undermined if it were accompanied by a video that SHOWED a “barefoot girl dancing in the moonlight.”
Born in the valley and raised in the trees
Of western Kentucky on wobbly knees
With mama beside you to help you along
You’ll soon be a-growin’ up strong.
All those long lazy mornings in pastures of green
The sun on your withers, the wind in your mane
If that doesn’t say Thoroughbred foal nothing does.
Does the song really say “western Kentucky”? That’s funny - practically all the horse farms in Kentucky surround Lexington, in the center of the state. That’s as good as “born and raised in South Detroit” from Don’t Stop Believin’.