Everybody loves a great story; the kind that hooks you from the start. Usually told through a first-hand narrative, it might contain adventure, mayhem, mystery or even murder. The tale should be exciting or touch you emotionally – much like a song does. Some songs, in fact, are great short stories. They are sagas that can transport you to another place or experience.
Yesterday, we spotlighted some classic country story songs by women, now it’s time to showcase some great ones by the men.
Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue”
Johnny Cash sang a few story songs over his career, but his best epic remains “A Boy Named Sue.” Many of the great country story songs by men deal with the relationship between a father and son; this one is the kicker. The song tells the saga of a man who was named “Sue” by his father. His dad abandons the family and the son is left to grow up, suffering ridicule in his life because of his name. When the son grows up, he meets up with his deadbeat dad in a bar. A fight ensues and afterwards, the son discovers why his father gave him that moniker.
Kenny Rogers, “Coward of the County”
This is another classic story song that deals with a father-son dilemma. The son in this case was given a deathbed decree by his father to avoid fights. The son follows his father’s wishes and throughout his life, he is called a coward for his submissiveness. One day, the son’s wife is attacked by three brothers. The son then has to decide whether to seek revenge or follow his dead father’s request.
Porter Wagoner, “Carroll County Accident”
Accidents are a topic that’s often sung about in story songs. The songs usually involve a twist in the plot as well. Porter Wagoner’s story of a car accident contains a secret. A respected female community member is out for a drive when she picks up a male neighbor, who flags her down. The woman has an accident with the car and the neighbour dies as a result. People come to look at the wrecked car and one person discovers something inside that the others had missed.
Randy Travis, “Three Wooden Crosses”
Randy Travis’s song about an accident involves four passengers on a bus: a farmer, a teacher, a hooker and a preacher. The bus is involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler. The song title is “Three Wooden Crosses,” so automatically you know that one person survives – but which one of the four?
Marty Robbins, “El Paso”
Marty Robbins, like Johnny Cash, loved a good story song. “El Paso” was Robbins’s crown jewel. Over four minutes long, it was epic in length at a time when songs were only a few minutes long. Yet no one noticed the time, as the story about a cowboy and a dancer unfolded. In a jealous rage, the cowboy kills a man and escapes. However, the cowboy’s love for the dancer causes him to return to the scene of the crime.
Those are just a few of the classic country story songs by men. There have been many others over the years. Which ones are your favourites? Let us know in the comment section below.
Dolly Parton to Bobbie Gentry: story songs by country music women
on Jun 06, 2012