I really like "story-telling songs" -- the ones that might be a bit long, but reward you with the double-entertainment factor of an interesting tale and some good music. Whether funny or moving or powerful or all of the above, they're fun for singing along with in the car, plus you can amaze your friends and family by learning all the words and performing a capella. Okay, maybe not so much on that last part, but it's worth a try.
Often there's a turning point in the story, when you realize things aren't going to turn out quite like you thought or maybe when things finally start to work out just as you hoped they would. It's not the refrain, but it's the line that sticks, gives goosebumps, rings in your ears.
Here are five of my favorites -- what are yours? (Links take you to the lyrics)
- "Johnny’s Camaro" by David Wilcox: The tale of Johnny's girlfriend, who discovers on a trip to Africa that she doesn't need a dude in a Camaro to be able to soar... "Man, she didn't know she could jump that high. Ah, but she does now."
- "The Queen and the Soldier" by Suzanne Vega: An honest soldier boldly questions his queen about the wars he fights on her behalf, but she isn't ready to face the truth... "But the crown, it had fallen, and she thought she would break / And she stood there, ashamed of the way her heart ached."
- "Shopping Cart of Love: The Play" by Christine Lavin: Her fiance ditches her for her roommate (and takes her car and her favorite sweater), but a disastrous trip through the grocery store's express lane turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to her... "So he grabbed me / And he dragged me / As as I was sobbing toward the door / When a soft voice whispered / 'I've got seven items, I'll take three of yours.'"
- "A Christmas Song" by Dave Matthews: It's an old, familiar story, but this song brings new life to the important tale of a young couple, their new son and the love that he would share with the world... "I came to shed a little light on this darkening scene. Instead I fear I’ve spilled the blood of our children all around."
- "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel: Okay, so this one is a little cheesy. But it holds such fun memories of my summer spent in Laurinburg. Follow along as Brenda and Eddie find out what happens when you peak too early... "They got an apartment with deep pile carpet / And a couple of paintings from Sears / A big waterbed that they bought with the bread / They had saved for a couple of years / They started to fight when the money got tight / And they just didn't count on the tears."