Tuesday, 7 October 2014

10 and 1 - Tell Me A Story

People that are good like with words and stuff.

by Matt Bond

Why hello... it's story time, boys and girls. You're a music fan, I'm a music fan, but sometimes you want your favourite singers to weave their poetic words into a story that's a little something more than (x) attempts to mate with (y) or (y) is triumphing over being heartbroken by (x) by swinging on installations on the ceiling or how (x) can be (y) if (x) wants because, baby, (x) was born that way. I love a good 'ole music storyteller. Personally, I'm a big fan of those that rip your heart out, throw it on the floor and then run it over on a Harley Davidson over and over and over again. The main thing is, I know I have a problem. But I don't think I'm alone. We all love music that can make us laugh, cry, singalong and entertain us. There are moments when all we need is your basic (x) and (y) story. And then there's times we want (a), (b) and (c) in the mix adding to the narrative as well. Not in a creepy, sexual way... pervs. 

The smartest writers leave much to the listener when it comes to interpreting their story. With each listen, you could be left viewing a song in a completely different light. A hero becomes a villain, the love of 'his' life suddenly becomes the other woman or what you once heard as a fairly straightforward tale of falling in love is now a deep and complex study or life, love, loss and everything in between. But you don't want to be too complex. Do you know what Black Eyed Peas' 'Boom Boom Pow' was about? Do you know what it means when chicken are jackin' your style? If you do, please let me know. I've been trying to work that out for years now. #jks. It's a statement about artistic integrity, a challenge to those lesser artists than Fergie-Ferg-era BEP's to push art to strange new boundaries. Hence why they are, "so 3008," while you are so, "2000 and late." That's what it means, right? Right?

Anyway, here are ten of my favourite storytellers in music. Maybe some of yours are in here too. As is the '10 and 1' way of doing bid-ness, I'll be leaving you with one artist who might not have the same way with words these guys and gals do. At least in my humble opinion. Enjoy! 

THE 10:

Sara Bareilles

I'm the writer and she's the muse,
I'm the one that you always choose,
She will falter and gift her blame,
And it starts all over again.
- 'Bright Lights and Cityscapes'

My good friend Fry has something to say about Sara Bareilles' storytelling abilities... 

Eddie Vedder

 I changed by not changing at all,
Small town predicts my fate,
Perhaps that's what no one wants to see.
- 'Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town'

His catalogue of works reads like a good episode of Law and Order:SVU. Ok, not really (a little), but there's so many songs about social justice and oppressed people and have you heard 'Alive' or 'Jeremy' or 'Black' or 'Man Of The Hour' or any song that this dude's written. Vedder's the man, man. 

Stevie Nicks

 So I try to say goodbye my friend,
 I'd like to leave you with something more,
But never ever been a blue calm sea,
 I have always been a storm.
- 'Storms'

 Stevie Nicks' best stories are about Stevie Nicks. So I guess she's one for those who head straight to the biography section of the bookstore. There's heaps of drama and mystery and romance too. So if you're into those types of books, you're going to love the Nicks. But seriously... who doesn't love the Nicks already?
Shirley Manson

Drown in me, one more time,
Hide inside me tonight,
Do what you want to do,
Just pretend happy end,
 Let me know, let it show,
Ending with letting go,
Let's pretend happy end.
- 'You Look So Fine'

I love you, Shirley!!! Please excuse me. I just can't contain myself when it comes to the words of one Manson, S. They'll put you under her spell. SHE'S A WITCH! And what a witch. Garbage drew on an actual story for the song 'The Trick Is To Keep Breathing' which is one of their most beautiful, heartbreaking tracks. And they've got a lot of beautiful, heartbreaking tracks. Like 'You Look So Fine'. It's a story I've gone back and forth with when it comes to the meaning, because part of me wants to believe it's not just a pretend happy end and it's a real one. But it's not so... Oy. I'd love you forever, Shirley! That pretty boy surfer in the video was never good enough for you. 

Billy Corgan

Time is never time at all,
You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of you,
And our lives are forever changed,
We will never be the same,
The more you change the less you feel.
- 'Tonight, Tonight' 

Come on... at one stage he was a really cool dude, right? He was on The Simpsons. It was awesome! Alright, whatever... Corgan had it going on back in the 90s. With just a couple of lines he could leave you contemplating things like the meaning of life, when all you really wanted to do was sing along to that fun '1979' song you heard on the radio. Urgh, I'm going to be stuck on "classic" Smashing Pumpkins for a couple of weeks now. Damn you, Billy Corgan!   

Amanda Palmer

I suffer mornings most of all,
I feel so powerless and small,
By 10 o'clock I'm back in bed,
Fighting the jury in my head
- 'Have To Drive'

What I love the most about Amanda Palmer's stories, is that even though they are so 'her', there are far too many moments in her music that feel like she's telling your story. Maybe 'her' story is 'our' story and she's really just that fan-fucking-tastic at taking some very personal life experiences and putting those into words that any listener can relate to. As a bonus, Amanda is ridiculously clever in her selection of lyrics and can even drop some TWIST! moments into her tracks. Example, 'The Bed Song'. 


When pop died, didn't cry,
Didn't know him that well,
Between him doing heroin and me doing crack sales...
- 'Moment of Clarity'  

Yes, rap stories are excellent. Especially in the hands of Jay-Z. It's all 'overcoming great adversity' like, starting on the streets and working your way up to becoming #1. Started from the bottom now your here, Drake? Yeahbutno, Jay-Z already told those stories and started much lower and got way higher. And he's got Beyonce. #YOLO.

Lana Del Rey

I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in midnight,
Been tryin' hard not to get into trouble,
But I, I've got a war in my mind.
- 'Ride' 

Did anyone else feel that cool breeze of judgment come in through the window? Brrrr. Anyway, haters gonna hate. I've got a lot of time for LDR's breathy tones and melodramatic, Americana-heavy lyrics. She's like the Springsteen of her generation. Haha. I'm kidding. Just wanted some of you to have a slight aneurism. 

Florence Welch

I took the stars from my eyes and then I made a map,
I knew that somehow I could find my way back,
Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too,
So I stayed in the darkness with you.
- 'Cosmic Love'

Florence's words tell the story of the world through her eyes. And that world is this over the top examination of love, death and war. It can be very violent and honest and beautiful all at the same time. It's just a little bit crackers, but also refreshing. How does she do this? Teach me, oh wise one.

Little May

Somebody told me you were leaving town,
I swear I never thought you'd be the one who let me down...
- 'Boardwalks'

How could I leave out my favourite new storytellers and our Artist of the Month, Little May? Well, I couldn't. Obviously. I've said it before and I'll say it again, these ladies right here are the next great storytellers. And you can find out for yourself by checking out their debut, self-titled EP which is out on October 10. It's also casually hanging out with Rolling Stone Australia if you want to give it a not-so-sneaky listen (or many, many listens) and fall for the oh-so-dreamy stories Little May tell.   


Nicki Minaj

This dude named Michael used to ride motorcycles,
Dick bigger than a tower, I ain't talking about Eiffels...
(we'll stop there)
- 'Anaconda'

No. A million times no. The disappointing thing about Minaj is, she's actually better than this. Her early raps were full of cutting rhymes and she actually told some decent stories. Now... it's all about how her 'kitty' puts dudes to sleep and now they're calling her NyQuil. NyQuil rhymes with Michael. All of the lols. HAHAHAHAHA. I'm done with life.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Love it or hate it? Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!