Our high school choir was learning a new song, “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, when I realized something: the song told a story. It’s not like I had never heard a song with a story before. In fact, I could sing along with three of the other works I’ve included in this week’s Twisted MixTape long before I ever encountered Joel’s tune. But it took me until high school to recognize the difference between just for fun lyrics like “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” and words strung together so there is a beginning, middle and end to the tale. It’s no surprise, then, that the Billy Joel song is first up on today’s Twisted MixTape. Here are a few of my other favorite songs that fit this week’s theme: songs that tell a story.
“And So It Goes” by Billy Joel
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band
I was surprised by how much of this song I still remember after so many years. I loved to sing along when I was a kid, but haven’t heard it in a long time. But that’s the beauty of a song that tells a story. It makes it easier to memorize.
Part of the song’s appeal to me as a kid, in addition to the devil getting his comeuppance, was the scandalous nature of these lyrics:
Johnny said: “Devil just come on back if you ever want to try again.
“cause I told you once, you son of a gun, I’m the best there’s ever been.”
He may have sung “son of a gun,” but we all know what he really meant.
“Whiskey in the Jar” performed by Metallica
I basically could have handed over the entire Shady Grove album by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, and been done with songs that tell stories. But that’s not a mix tape, now is it? Plus, I would never have learned that Metallica has performed this old ballad. Who knew? Not me, because I don’t get out much.
“Dead Man’s Curve” by Jan and Dean
If my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, my parents had this song on a 45. That’s a record for you young’uns out there. A record is . . . oh, never mind.
My big brother really liked this Jan and Dean song, so I decided it had to be cool. I remember watching the movie of the same name when I was a kid, too. It intrigued me that Jan was injured in a car accident. Had they tempted fate by performing this hit song? Not only do the lyrics tell a story, the song connects to the true story of its performers.
“Convoy” by C.W. McCall
I had a couple of other songs on the tape, but I deleted them in favor of this one. Jen Kehl inspired me to include this with her mix tape last week in which she paid homage to Jerry Reed and remembered her childhood dream of becoming a truck driver. I was excited to find the movie streaming on Netflix. I added it to my queue to find out if the movie was still as cool as I remembered. After all, my family owned a CB radio, and I used to listen to see if anyone like Rubber Duck was organizing a convoy near us. True story because we raised chickens and sold the eggs, my mom’s handle was Egg Lady.
I do know the lyrics are still awesome:
Well, we shot the line and we went for broke
With a thousand screamin’ trucks
An’ eleven long-haired Friends of Jesus
In a chartreuse micro-bus.
See-a song that has a narrative not only tells its own tale, but reminds us of our own stories.
Catch you on the flip-flop, good buddies.