Story Songs have a long history.
One old song comes from the biblical book of Exodus. It retells the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt. They had been enslaved and wanted to recall the experience of their liberation in a memorable format, so used the narrative or story song.
Both singer and the audience find this format beneficial for listening and remembering. In folk singing circles worldwide the song which tells a person’s story or a whole nation’s story in a dramatic fashion has certainly proved its worth.
In the last 60 years Bob Dylan has proven himself to be a master in this field. Even his first album entitled ‘Bob Dylan’ had a selection of story songs including the account of a lynching in 1955 , ‘The Death of Emmett Till’. Throughout his career he has returned to this style of writing, in 1975 writing ‘Hurricane’ about the life of a boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who was imprisoned for murder.
Not all story songs need to deal with a specific individual but can invite us to think about types of people and their relationships. The song in the film at the end of this post was released in May 2019 from the band, The Divine Comedy who have been going for 30 years before producing this major hit with a catchy story song based on the arc of many marriages.