What ever happened to story songs?

Today, for no reason I could think of, I heard these words coming out of my mouth:
*Billy don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life
Billy don’t be a hero, come back and make me your wife.
And as he started to go
She said, "Billy, keep your head low.
Billy don’t be a hero. Come back to me.

Which of course brought
Daddy please don’t. It wasn’t his fault. He means so much to me.
Daddy please don’t. We’re gonna get married. Just you wait and see.
into my head too.

What ever happened to story songs? Are there any that are less than 20 years old?

Wait, I just thought of one-- Fastball’s song about the people who just drove off one day. I think it was called The Way. Any others?

Country is full of them.

Let’s roll.

Kate Bush’s songs are (were?) almost all little pieces of fiction.

There’s a song by a guy named J-Live called One for the Griot (not sure if I spelled that right but it’s pronounced gree-o.)

It’s been awhile since I’ve heard it because I lost the CD but IIRC he tells the same story 3 different ways. Pretty cool song.


Story songs=ballads

As mentioned, C&W music contains a lot of this sort of concoction. Rock, rap and hip-hop seem to be more aggressive these days, which doesn’t lend itself well to ballads, although a few, like Slim Shady, tell some stories with their music.

Brick by Ben Folds Five and Common People by Pulp come to mind. Also Mr. Jones by Counting Crows. Those are about a girlfriend’s abortion, meeting a rich girl, and hanging out with a friend while drinking.

Also see the album Murder Ballads by Nick Cave.

Robert Earl Keene’s done some good ones. “The Road Goes On Forever” is, well, a movie. I can see the whole thing play out in my mind’s eye while I listen. Although I like Jack Ingram’s cover of it better.

My nomination for the finest story-song of the last 20 years: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson.

Jill Soubule does a good job with them … Karen by Night and Margaret are both very good.

The Barenaked Ladies do a few story songs, although they usually aren’t the singles. The ones that spring to mind are “The Conventioneers” and “Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel”, although I think there are others.

I don’t know if I’ll need a D&R here, but I won’t use one.

Try songs from musicals. You know, “show tunes.” They often tell a story, or at least imply one.

As others have opined here, Country is full of story songs. That’s one reason I don’t like country, because most of it’s sappy story songs.

Whenever I hear a rock song with a story, I think " that sounds like a country song set to a rock beat."

Can Pearl Jam’s Jeremy be considered a story song or am I incorporating too much from the video in my memory?

Crash Test Dummies Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm tho did have three stories in it!

It’s biographical so it would count.

I second Biffy’s nomination! Awesome song.

Date Rape by Sublime
Army by Ben Folds Five
Froggie by The Presidents of the United States of America
Sorry Sorry by Rooney
Tribute by Tenacious D

Obscure though the story may be, “The Freshman” by Verve Pipe qualifies, I think.