For centuries music has been used to tell stories, and the tradition has not been lost in recent times. Here we take a look at ten of the best stories told through music:
“39” by the queen
The narrator leaves for space in 1939, leaving behind a wife. However, because of the theory of time dilation, a hundred years pass on earth, while only one year passes for him. When he returns, he finds that everyone he loved is dead and his only connection to the people he left behind are his grandchildren, with whom he is the same age.
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
Anyone who grew up near the Great Lakes has heard the story of Edmund Fitzgerald, the titular ship of that 1976 song. The previous year, the freighter sailed from Wisconsin with 29 men aboard and sank just north of Whitefish Point, Michigan. The sinking of the ship claimed the lives of everyone on board, creating a poignant story of the betrayal of the lakes, captured in the song.
“There’s No Rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephant
Three stories are woven together in Cage the Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”, all told from the perspective of a single narrator. The first explains an encounter with a prostitute, the second explains an attempted assault, and the third explains a priest on television who was found guilty of taking in church. All three give the same explanation for their actions, simply stating that “there is no rest for the wicked.”
“Welcome to the End of Your Life” by The Driver Era
Life is fleeting, and this is explored in the song “Welcome to the End of Your Life”. The narrator is killed in a car accident, and as they die they begin to reflect on all they have and haven’t done. It’s a song about regret and life to the hilt, told through an incredibly morbid story.
“Mad in Love” by Lord Huron
Love makes people do crazy things. In this upbeat folk tune, a man is desperately in love with a woman named Lily, to the point that he’s willing to physically fight his fiancé to win her affection. However, her fiancé, the aptly named Big Jim, defeats the narrator, leaving him to die in the snow. As the narrator bleeds, he reflects on his decisions, coming to terms with the fact that he was destined to lose as a love fool.
“Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles
“Eleanor Rigby” tells two intertwined stories, that of the titular wife and that of Father Mckenzie. Eleanor Rigby lives a lonely life, a cycle of church cleaning and coming home. Father Mckenzie leads a similar life, delivering homilies for sermons no one comes to and returning home to darn his socks. The only change in their solitary life comes with the death of Eleanor, in which Father Mckenzie is the only one at the funeral, and only to bury her, leaving them both permanently alone.
“America” by Simon and Garfunkel
At its heart, “America” is a song for the wandering soul. The story follows a narrator and their lover, Kathy, as they board a bus in Pittsburgh after a four-day hitchhiking trip from Saginaw. Together, the two begin traveling to the East Coast, shedding light on their journey as they go. However, as they reach New Jersey, the narrator realizes that the journey has not filled the void he had and he is doomed to be a wandering soul forever, searching for something. to fill that void in him.
Malibu 1992 by Coin
Watching someone you love walk away forever is tough, and that feeling is epitomized in “Malibu 1992.” The narrator describes an old love he had, one that had to return to his parents due to financial problems. Over time, he discovers that he still misses that old love, reflecting on their names etched on the sidewalk, the way he told his mother about her, and all the memories they shared while there. in Malibu. Twenty years later, he discovers that this old love has moved to New Jersey with their wealthy old husband, seemingly forgetting about him. Nevertheless, he never forgot her.
“Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles
Somewhat similar to Coin, the Eagles tells the story of a girl who marries a rich old man in order to have a financially stable life where she doesn’t have to work. However, the marriage is completely loveless and she finds herself cheating on her husband with a younger man she knew in school in order to feel loved. Upon returning to the big empty house, she feels torn between the financial stability of her relationship and the romantic and sexual fulfillment of her affair. She realizes that even though money isn’t everything, she still wants to stay financially stable.
“In the Woods Somewhere” by Hozier
“In the Woods Somewhere” is a horror story set to music. A man wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, hearing a scream coming from the woods. Fearing that it might be someone who needs help, he runs into the woods, only to find a mortally wounded fox. He crushes him to get him out of his misery and then begins to wonder what could have hurt a fox so badly. However, his question is soon answered, as he spots a mysterious creature staring at him. The creature pounces on him and chases him. Whether or not he escapes is open to interpretation, but one thing can be certain: he found something in the woods somewhere.