Sing me a story

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.

My Skewed View

“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.


39 thoughts on “Sing me a story

  1. All of your picks made me smile this week. I also remember seeing the Deadman’s Curve movie when I was a kid and loving surf music before I even knew who the Beach Boys were.


  2. Metallica is one of those bands that has a surprising to them. At first I was fooled my the regrettable late ’80’s hair and name choice but there’s some talent and craftsmanship there, especially when it comes to story telling.


  3. Devil Went Down to Georgia an awesome choice. I’m almost mad at myself I forgot about it. I should be ashamed because I’m a fiddler. Convoy was another pick I was jealous of and I sing that song all the time. LOL My husband is gonna make fun of me for that one.


  4. Great list! Yeah, I thought Metallica did a great job with that cover. There were so many of their own that could have been included too. Awesome inclusion of Jan and Dean. I still somehow credit that song to the Beach Boys even though I know better.


    1. I know I confuse Jan & Dean vs. Beach Boys. I’ll chalk it up to “they were before my time.” However, I did see the Beach Boys perform live at the Ohio State Fair one year. I guess they weren’t completely before my time.


    1. Oh, Tracy, I felt the same way reading some of the other links. Sometimes I knew the artist, but not the song, but mostly I had never heard of either. There is no shame. At least not here.


  5. A big yes to Deadman’s Curve! Just so not on my radar, but so completely perfect! And you know I wanted to do Convoy, but that made my list two weeks back? Shoot… now I can’t even remember. This is a great list Cyn thanks so much for playing!


  6. I laughed at your explanation of a 45! I teach 12-year-olds, and I feel that way all the time. I used a typewriter sound effect the other day, and they didn’t have any idea what the sound was. Anyway, love your mix. I liked hearing “Convoy”–I had been into CB lingo back then too.


  7. I totally remember when it came out, ‘Convey’ was the biggest of a number of trucker/CB -centric music that showed up in the 70s.

    But then again, I also remember seeing Jan and Dean on American Bandstand on TV, weekday afternoons!


  8. excellent metallica cover

    FYI, I live in Georgia, The Devil plays guitar in racist country rock bars these days. Just kidding

    good choices


  9. I would love your list simply for the inclusion of Devil Went Down to Georgia. An AWESOME song I haven’t heard in a long time. Yet, there is even more to enjoy. Billy Joel for one. And I’m jealous of the CB radio experiences you had growing up. I was fascinated by the whole idea of it, thanks to movies back then.


  10. Funny, I too remember really, really contemplating the difference between songs that tell stories and songs that don’t. I think about it now with my daughter. She can recite all the Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, but I KNOW that she has no clue what they mean!


  11. Music is our life’s narrative and it’s really just poetry put with instrumentals… you might want to correct CW McCoy to CW McCall. He’s got some other great songs too. 😉 Fun post.


  12. okay very silly confession time. A few years ago, I was riding along a country road and that Convoy song came on. I was transported back to junior high riding in the back of a friend’s station wagon and that song coming over some AM radio. I thought of CBs and “handles” had how things seemed so simple them. And I cried. Good grief. I am probably the only person in the history of music that cried upon listening to Convoy. 🙂


  13. All great songs! I still know all the words to “Devil Went Down to Georgia”. “Son of a gun” was only the radio version, if you bought the album it actually said “son of a bitch”.


  14. I absolutely love Devil Went Down to Georgia! Can’t believe I didn’t think of it for this week!

    And agree – those Eureka! moments in youth are memorable. I had it with Richard Cory.


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