I suspect that few radio listeners make a habit of equating song lyrics to the stories in magazines, books, or memoirs. (And, granted, the limited numbers of words and phrases in most songs would not help them make that association!) However, occasionally, a well-written lyrical composition does manage to hit the airwaves and make a connection between musical words and their written cousins.
Two popular songs have caught my attention over the past couple of months as perfect examples of musical compositions that tell stories: “Ol’ Red”, written by James “Bo” Bohan, Don Goodman, and Mark Sherrill, and “Blown Away”, written by Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear. If you are not familiar with the songs or lyrics, allow me to provide a few links so you can see and hear for yourselves.
First, the story of “Ol’ Red” has been transcribed by Garrett Holt at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF6Lame2Q9Y (you can even listen to his cover performance of the song while reading the lyrics). “Ol’ Red” has been recorded by artists George Jones and Kenny Rogers; though, Blake Shelton has the version that is currently on the charts. Look up those performances or watch another cover of the song by rising star Carl Holsher.
Second, YouTube poster NinaHappy Feet has transcribed the lyrics to “Blown Away” and posted them to a recorded performance by Carrie Underwood on this page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD9YJjL2qQE. The lyrics for “Blown Away” have been praised far and wide and have even been nominated (at this point) for the Grammy’s 2013 Best Country Song, an award that recognizes the songwriters.
Enjoy the lyrics and the performances, and think about the stories in (and behind) other lyrics the next time you hear your favorite songs. You might even think of the authors of the compositionssome of the forgotten artists of the music industry.
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