The Power of a Good Story

I’m going to talk about music, and if you’re like me, you glaze over when other people talk about music, but stick with me. I won’t submit you to a rundown of my favorite songs or any crap like that. I won’t even make you watch the videos in this blog. I’ll give you a summary. Okay? Okay.

Besides. This is about storytelling.

This is exactly what my truck looked like. Same color and all.

When I was 22, I bought an extended cab, long bed, Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pickup truck.

I thought it would help me pick up men.

No, seriously, I bought it to tow a horse trailer. Most guys seemed kind of intimidated. Personally, I was kind of intimidated myself, but I was an independent woman, and damn it, that was my truck.

I loved my truck. At the time I bought it, I was dating a bail enforcement agent (read: bounty hunter), and he said, “If you’re going to drive a truck like this, you need to start listening to country music.”

Now, at the time, I was solidly a Top 40’s kinda girl. Dance music, rock music, I listened to it all. Even now, if it’s in the top 10 on iTunes, there’s a good chance it’s in my collection. (I’m in love with “Blow” by Ke$ha and “The Cave” by Little Lion Men right now.)

Anyway. Back then, country music? I’d rather put a bullet in my head.

But I programmed a station on my radio, and every now and again, I’d listen.

Before long, I was hooked.

Now this was in the heyday of country music. It was 2000, and Toby Keith and The Dixie Chicks were tearing up the charts. For you kids out there, this was when crossover started happening. You think Taylor Swift invented songs that worked for pop and country? Nuh-uh. Thank Shania Twain for that.

I’m digressing.

You know what I loved about country music? Almost all the songs told a story.

A lot of regular songs tell a story, too. But they usually tell a love story, and it’s usually pretty basic. Guy is hot for girl. Girl misses boy. Yadda yadda.

Country songs tell a story.Β 

Here’s a good one:
(And look, the video is hokey. It’s country. And it was 10 years ago. But watch for the story.)

Okay, if you’re like me, and you can’t get videos at work, or you’re strongly opposed to country music, or you just want me to get on with the frigging blog already, here’s what the song’s about.

A woman breaks down on the side of the road. A guy named Joe stops to help her, and when she offers to pay him, he basically says, “You don’t owe me a thing. I’ve been there, too. Don’t let the chain of love end with you.”

So a few miles down the road, the lady stops at a cafe, where the poor waitress is 8 months pregnant. The lady thinks about the guy’s good deed and leaves her a $100 tip, with a note that says the same thing, “You don’t owe me a thing…”

And then, the waitress goes home, climbs in bed with her husband (whoa — this sounds like it’s going to be dirty when I write it out like this), taps him on the shoulder and says, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Joe.”

GET IT?? It’s the guy who first helped the woman with her tire.

Now that’s good storytelling, and it’s done in less than five minutes.

There’s a lesson there, I think.

Here are some more great storytelling songs:

This one is about a guy in prison who figures out that if he gets the warden’s dog some *ahem* action every night, when he decides to run, the dog will go looking for his lady-love, and won’t chase him:

Here’s a great power video about a guy getting beaten down and finally rising up to be a badass. (And let me tell you, I had SUCH the crush on Toby Keith when I was 22.)

What about you guys? Do you have any good songs that tell a story? Any good songs that aren’t country music?

And, OMG, I just watched that video again, and that crush? Still there.

Remember when Cobus Potgieter stopped by the blog and just about stopped my heart at the same time? Well, if Toby Keith wants to stop by, I sure wouldn’t cry about it.


12 thoughts on “The Power of a Good Story

  1. Um, YES I remember when Cobus stopped by… and then stopped by a second time… D:
    But hey! I LOVE Shania Twain (she’s Canadian!), and I’m only 14! One of my friends likes her too. And you’re right about how country songs tell stories. I feel they’re often very personal.
    And yo, I don’t mean to make your eyes glaze over or anything, but Michelle Branch went from pop-rock to country(ish), and I’m pretty sure her next album’s going to be crossover. Eye-glazing spiel over now. πŸ˜‰

  2. Although the song itself doesn’t necessarily tell much of a story, when you combine it with the video, “From Yesterday” by 30 Seconds to Mars is a great story-telling experience. They are about as far from country as you can get, but they are a totally underrated band in terms of their art, and I’m not too proud to admit that I could have a man-crush on Jared Leto. As happily married and hetero as I might be, he’s a stunningly attractive man!

  3. Two words. Seanan McGuire. Before she was a Campbell awarding winning new novelist, she was (still is) a singer, and before she was a singer, she was a poet. (She writes sonnets when she’s stressed.)

    You can actually read her songs and enjoy them. Her songbook (12 pages) is here.

    My favorites are Dorothy, Wicked Girls (Saving Ourselves), Dear Gina, What a Woman’s For, Still Catch the Tide, Take Advantage of Me…

    Ok, I’ll stop now πŸ™‚

  4. Is it totally weird that I think Trace Adkins is hot? I mean, I’d probably be scared of him if we met in a dark alley. But when he sings, I find him appealing! He sways well for a big dude in the “One Hot Mama” video.

    And Dierks Bentley…yeah,that’s yumminess with a curly mop of hair. Great story from him in, “I’ll Settle for a Slow Down.”

    Okay and now I’m a dork.

  5. Mr. Berry, I wouldn’t worry about your man-crush. My husband once told me he’d leave me for Taylor Kitsch (the guy who plays Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights)

    By the way, I think you need to change your blogger handle to “Mr. Berry.” I keep thinking to myself, “Who the hell is Tom?”

  6. Nope – not changing my name. You’ll just have to get used to it. My AP US History teacher is one of my colleagues where I now teach, and I’ve finally gotten used to calling him Peter. You can do it, too!

  7. Haha, I’m guilty of listening to country music for about a year. There are still a few songs I like, and I think one of the greatest story-telling country songs of all time is “Don’t Take the Girl”


    That said, most country songs don’t call to me. I’m also a top 40’s girl…but with folk, Japanese rock, and Korean pop/R&B/rap mixed in.

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