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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Songs about Looking Back (#BOTB)

   
     Some song lyrics grab me and it's often because they tell a story.
   
      Ironically, in the post for my previous Battle of the Bands I observed that I usually don't pay that much attention to song lyrics.  Now in this Battle I'm going to present two different songs where the lyrics do speak to me to the extent that I am moved by them.  It helps that the lyrics are easy to understand, but I think that when lyrics tell a story they are easier to follow.

Battle of the Bands

          Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.



Steve Forbert   "January 23-30, 1978" (1979)
If not available in your region for alternate recording click here.

         Steve Forbert is one of those artists who probably should have been more famous. His songs are impeccably composed and performed with a Dylanesque style, yet displaying a unique sound. This song about an adult man's week-long visit to his hometown where he relives old memories first caught my attention after I got a copy of the album on cassette in the early 1980's.  The closing line, "It's often said that life is strange, but compared to what?", kind of sums up much of my own outlook on life.  To me this is one of the most perfectly constructed and presented story songs that I know.  





Billy Currington  "People Are Crazy" (2009)
(For an alternate version please click here.)

         This song has that twang that might turn some of you off and you might not agree with the sentiments expressed, but, hey, it's a country song so it is what it is.   The story is fun.  It's a story about drinking, talking, and reminiscing with a bit of a twist at the end.




Time to Vote!

      Two songs with two stories.  I hope that  you've enjoyed them.  Maybe it's not your style of music, but hopefully you'll keep a musically open mind in assessing the two versions.   Let us know what you think about these two recordings. Is there one that you prefer over the other?    If you're visiting a Battle of the Bands post for the first time then let me briefly explain.  Please give each song version a fair listen to decide which one you enjoy the most.  If you don't like either then at least tell us which recording was least innocuous to you. This comes down to your preference and it's as easy as that.

     Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:


 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Janie Junebug Righting & Editing.
  
J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers

Be ReInVintaged

the pedestrian writer

Winner Announced on Wednesday September 21st

         I'll have a post up on Monday the 19th so I hope you visit for that post, but the results of the above battle will be posted a couple days later.  Who will win?   Your votes will decide.

          Do you tend to pay more attention to a song if the lyrics tell a story?   What is your favorite story song of all time?    Have you ever written or tried to write a story song?


51 comments:

  1. Honestly, I liked them both, because I like songs that tell stories, too. But in the end, I'll give it to Currington, because he's a little more soulful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liza, and the race begins with a vote for...

      Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  2. I enjoyed both songs but I prefer the offbeat Steve Forebert. Loved his attitude as he took us through his story.
    Yvonne.

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  3. Not my kind of music. I'll go with Forbert though.

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    1. Alex, I figured that this wouldn't be your kind of music. Someday I'll go back to another heavy metal song.

      Steve

      Lee

      Delete
  4. I enjoyed both songs. Normally I wouldn't have listened to the second one all the way through but something told me to...maybe because of that line, "God is good." Glad I did. It gets my vote for sure.

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    1. Elsie, the lyrics swayed the vote!

      Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  5. Neither of those are really my thing, But I DO love lyrics that tell a story. I tend to like it better if the story is a little bit subtle--like I get to feel clever for figuring it out. Among the super obvious story songs I like though, Dixie Chicks "Earl's Gotta Die" is excellent. If I am picking between the two above, I think I'd go with Folbert.

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    1. Hart, not sure I know the Dixie Chicks's song that you mention, but I know they've done some nice music.

      A vote for Steve

      Lee

      Delete
  6. I prefer Billy Currington "sound", if you know what I mean.

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    1. HR, I think I get what you mean.

      Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  7. Not gonna lie, I didn't even make it 1 minute into Currington's version. I just really do not like country, especially with that 'twang' in it.

    I did enjoy Forbert's version, though, so give my vote to him.

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    1. Beer, I used to be like that about country songs, but then I learned to appreciate them. The story told by this song is a fun one.

      Going with Steve.

      Lee

      Delete
  8. While I thought Forbert was okay, this was an easy choice for this desert rat - it's Currington for me!
    I never thought I'd ever see a country song mentioned on a blog or a battle - I hope it's a good omen ;-)

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    1. Diedre, some of us have used country songs in the past. I'm a fan of country music so you'll probably see more here someday.

      Another vote for Billy.

      Lee

      Delete
  9. LEE ~
    I do really like that line "Life is strange, but compared to what?" He's right, we say that a lot but what is the "normal" we're comparing it to?

    Doc Holliday had a great line in 'TOMBSTONE':
    "There is no normal life, Wyatt. There's just life. Now get on with it."

    Musically, the Forbert song didn't do a lot for me. However, what I found most peculiar was that last line about life being "strange" really didn't tie into the song in any way. I mean, nothing described in the song was "strange" at all. He visited his hometown, got caught up on the local news, got drunk one night with some buddies and then flew back to New York. Nuttin' "strange" about any of that.

    But the Billy Currington song "People Are Crazy" I liked a lot. I had to laugh a couple times though because whoever directed that video has seen way too many beer commercials! I swear at times I thought I was catching a Budweiser commercial during a Super Bowl timeout. Ha!

    But I enjoyed the story of the song, which also reminded me of the movie 'MELVIN AND HOWARD':

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melvin_and_Howard

    I've been meaning to tell this to Beer Boy Bryan, but since I haven't, and since it fits in so perfectly here, I'll tell YOU first...

    It's occurred to me lately that probably there is no place you can go and meet a wider spectrum of people -- good and bad -- than in a bar. And I don't mean any bar. Not some rundown ghetto bar. But your average bar and grill in an average neighborhood.

    There are jerky guys who will have too much to drink and start a fistfight over nothing. And then there are strangers, guys and gals, you will really, Really like immediately and have a memorable time sharing a couple drinks with, telling stories and laughing together.

    I've met some really nice, fun, funny, friendly people in bars. And I've also met some people I just wanted to crack over the head with a bottle of bourbon!

    Bars are pretty unique in this respect. In churches, most people are pretty decent, but no one's going to stand out. At work, there's a certain demeanor everyone must abide by, give or take a little. Same with most places we go. But in bars, that's where people let down their hair and you'll find the best and worst all mingled together and showing who they really are.

    Interesting Battle. I may have to check out more by that now-rich Country singer, Billy. (Does he still sing, now that he doesn't need the money?)

    ~ D-FensDogG

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    1. STMcC, When I hear the Forbert song I'm taken back to events in my own life, and now to stories I've read on your blog about days in your own past with your old friends. This song touches me deeply and is as relatable to my own experience as any song I've heard both from the standpoint of the old memories and going back home to catch up to those old memories. It's a song that is real to me. I plan to address more about this at Wrote By Rote this coming Saturday as I do another Soundtrack of My Life installment.

      Though I've never spent a whole lot of time hanging out in bars, from my experience I've found that to a great extent what you say about them is true. In a way the Forbert song touches upon that as well--the concept of just plain folk hanging out and doing things people do when they're in a bar.

      Concerning the "life is strange" line, keep in mind that it starts out with "It's often said..." We've all heard people say that line and I've used it myself. Contextually we might think whatever we're thinking about when we say that is really unique, but then when looked at through the broader lens our "strange" life is really just life like Doc Holliday and we all have comparably "strange" lives that taken as a whole are just parts of a bigger story. That's what I feel when I hear the Forbert song--my life is special to me and while others might find some aspects interesting, in the end what I've experienced doesn't mean as much to the other guy as his own life does. If that makes sense. Anyway, I'll explore this a bit more on my Saturday SOML post.

      I've got you down for Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  10. Nice lyrics, and I actually like country, probably a minority. Enjoyed both the songs. My vote goes to Steve.
    Have a great weekend.

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    1. Nilanjana, maybe a minority in my blog voters, but there are a lot of country fans in the U.S. and the world for that matter.

      Another vote for Steve.

      Lee

      Delete
  11. I'll go with Steve. No, I don't usually listen to the lyrics except in folk music which I love.

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    1. Kathleen, much folk music tells stories.

      A vote for Steve.


      Lee

      Delete
  12. I was pleasantly surprised by Steve Forbert. Ages better than Romeo's tune. But People Are Crazy is one of my and my son's "sing-along" songs. No contest. People ARE Crazy.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. CW, Good-bye Mitch Miller as we let Billy Currington lead us in song!

      Yeah, people can be pretty crazy--who isn't?

      A vote for Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  13. Lee, both songs and artists are new-to-me, so thanks for the intro. "People Are Crazy" sorta spoke to me, so I'm giving my vote to Billy Currington! Yeah, you know I never really thought about it but I am generally drawn to songs that tell a story. One of my favorite artists is John Denver. I loved his folk style and I think it's Annie's Song that's at least one of my favorites. Very nice battle!

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    1. Cathy, John Denver is always pretty easy to understand when he sings.

      Another vote for Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  14. Comparing two different songs is much like comparing apples and oranges. In this case, I think I prefer Oranges. My vote is going to Billy Currington.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    Replies
    1. Mary, I think this contest is more like comparing different kinds of apples since the songs do have some similarity.

      A vote for Billy.

      Lee

      Delete
  15. A song with a story can be fun, People are crazy and Billy gets my vote

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    1. Mike, people are crazy, but that's what makes life interesting I guess.

      Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  16. I vote Billy but both are good.

    My favorite story song is Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley and Alison Kraus. Its a sad song but I often wonder how many times this has happened.

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    1. Lisa, I'm not familiar with "Whiskey Lullaby"--not by the title at least though maybe I've heard it. I think often the story songs are based on something from the songwriter's life or a true story they've heard somewhere.

      Another vote for Billy.

      Lee

      Delete
  17. You're right, Steve Forbert sounds like Dylan, even the Dylanesque harmonica at the end. I liked Billy Currington better, though... I think I'll save that line "God is great, beer is good... and people are crazy" for later. My vote goes with Billy.

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    1. John, when Forbert first emerged on the scene the comparisons to Dylan were common.

      A vote for Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  18. This was an unfair competition as Forbert won before I listened, although I did listen. I liked the lyrics OK for Currington's song but I am one of those readers you warned would be turned off by the twang, and besides I have been a Forbert fan since his debut.

    So my vote goes to STEVE FORBERT

    LC

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    1. Larry, I figured this would be your vote.

      Steve

      Lee

      Delete
    2. I did not think I'd surprise you....

      Delete
  19. I really enjoyed both songs. I liked the story in the first song and really dug the harmonica, but musically it didn't appeal to me as much as Billy Currington's song does. I love his sound. But then, I like country music (I used to hate country but today's country I think is fantastic...probably because it sounds a lot like rock these days).
    Billy Currington gets my vote. It was nice to hear his song again. I hadn't heard it in awhile...

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele. I think the Currington song sounds like classic country--don't hear much rock influence in it like I do in so much other country music.

      Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  20. You are sure getting a wide variety of responses with this one, Lee! You have managed to put together one that somehow has elicited strong feelings.

    I really liked this battle. I liked the concept and selections. I will add that although the first song has deep meaning for you personally, and I think it is a great selection for the criteria of this battle, I did not personally relate to it or even really like it. It was not unpleasant to listen to, but musically there was little change or interest throughout. The story really had little action. He looked around town. Then he went home. OK. I'm afraid I am not surprised that the singer never reached Dylanesque heights. Perhaps there is something I am missing, that YOU found.

    The second song really surprised me. I am NOT generally a fan of country. A little occasionally is OK. But I found that I not only liked the second song, but LOVED it! It was charming, funny, set the scene, told a tale, and had a surprise ending (I'd not heard the song before, or I'd have known the surprise.) The song was performed well by a dude with a nice voice. So: a laurel, and hearty handshake goes to Currington, who gets my vote.

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    1. SBB6, interesting how differently people can hear music. I find the Forbert song to be much more musically interesting than the Currington song. Yes, the story on the surface seems like little happens, but I think there is a great subtlety that has a lot more beneath the surface. But then again, maybe it's one of those "You had to be there" type of things where personal connections can be made for some of us.

      I do agree with your assessment of the Currington song. I guess if a movie were to be made from both these songs, Billy's would be the more popular--kind of like a Hallmark movie.

      I'll have more to say in my Saturday Wrote By Rote Soundtrack of My Life post.

      A vote for Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  21. I'm surprising myself because I choose the country version. I like his voice better...sounds stronger to me and I enjoyed his story just a bit more so he gets my vote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birgit, it all comes together as a vote for...

      Billy

      Lee

      Delete
  22. Hi, Lee!

    Typically I don't have much patience for story songs but I thoroughly enjoyed one of your selections (probably not the one that will get your vote :)

    Steve Forbert tells the kind of story I have heard in many other songs over the years. I can't relate to it because the last thing I want to do is go back home, look up old friends, party with them and reminisce. Doing so would alter, diminish, tarnish and probably do irreparable damage to the fond memories of my youth that I have treasured for 50+ years.

    I have to laugh when BOTB-ers issue "twang warnings." Since when is twang a bad thing? I enjoy country music, the traditional style as well as the new. I enjoyed Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy" song a lot more. Billy reminds me of a country Tom Jones. I appreciated his easy going style, his smile and his clever story song, and had no problem whatsoever with the country twang. (The Joe Biden campaign spot for Hillary that preceded the video was the icing on the cake :)

    Mark me down for Billy Currington, Lee!

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    1. Shady, The twang is just how some people talk so I wish everyone would get over it. Though when I first moved to Tennessee I used to make fun of that country accent, but now I'm used to it and am kind of endeared to it.

      Guess the YouTube metrics have you pegged as someone with an interest in Hillary.

      A vote for Billy.

      Lee

      Delete
  23. I love country music but I really enjoyed Forbet and the harmonica. Quite Dylan-ish, even in looks. He gets my vote!

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    1. Susan S., yeah, Forbert did kind of have a Dylanesque look about him.

      A vote for Steve.

      Lee

      Delete
  24. Hello Lee, my vote goes to Steve Forbert, I really like this one! And as far as your question goes about whether or not I pay more attention to a song's lyrics if there is a story, not necessarily. I just have to like the beat. One of my favourite songs that tells a story is an old one. Patches, by Clarence Carter. :)

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    1. Linda, "Patches"--ah yes--that's from back when story songs were more appreciated and there were many on the charts.

      And it's a vote for Steve

      Lee

      Delete
  25. Well, if it is about actual story, Steve Forbert has my vote. I'm a country music fan, ya know, and yes, Fobert has enough "twang" to satisfy me.

    Ah, I love Billy Currington. What a voice. What a story. I like the "song story" better without the video though. I just doesn't match my vision of the story. And, of course, it has that expected HEA ending.

    But, all told out, Steve has a good, strong story telling voice, and an awesome song. A very good story.

    I love a good story. I'm voting Forbert.

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    1. Dolorah, I think your analysis is very good--very "writerly".

      A vote for Steve

      Lee

      Delete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee