Music Monday: Songs With Too Much Plot

by Scott Lydon

Happy Music Monday! Today Scott's jumping in to the huge mess that is story songs. Everyone knows at least one song with way, way, way too much plot. But are there five? Well, sadly… yes. And you're about to endure them. Let's start with a "classic" of the "genre"...

Kenny Rogers - Coward Of The County

 

Before he sold chicken, Kenny Rogers had this hit about a guy who was chicken. It's a simple story of a man who takes revenge on some bad guys who attacked his lady, and yet… it's just hideous. Maybe it's the weird way it turns sexual assault into a man's story of finding his courage, or maybe it's how they make turning the other cheek into "crawling" or maybe it's just the happy crackin' guitar in the background. Whatever it is, this song is like listening to a stranger's story when you only came in to the bar watch the game.

Well, not every song can be Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day." See you after the jump?

Harry Chapin - Sequel

 

It's hard to hear Harry Chapin's Taxi and feel let down. Though it's long and dramatic, the original song is really a nice story of a man and a woman and how life sometimes takes you places you can't expect. But "Sequel" here feels like Harry look at his bank statement and made a judgement call. "Sequel" does work as a nice metaphor though; a perfect example of why you shouldn't go back to the things you've loved and lost and try to begin them again.

Elvis - In The Ghetto

 

This song is absolutely one of the weirdest musical experiences a person can have. It's a gospel song, at heart, but it's being delivered from a guy who's dressed like a superhero. A lovely voice sings about a child's runny nose. The story is kinda Curtis Mayfield but it was embraced by radio stations that wouldn't go near black music. And a whole generation know it mostly from this. Not a horrible song, but clearly, a song with too much plot for its own good.

Don Henley - The End Of The Innocence

 

Are there any songs more in-your-face boomer than the songs from 1989 Don Henley? Mixing the soothing Sting-like synths and combining divorce, first love and anti-establishment Reaganism, the vague story of "Daddy" winding through this overwritten monsterpiece is a love letter to, well, Don Henley's own genius. It certainly would have benefited from a little bit less of that "poor abandoned children" storyline, that's for sure. Fun fact: when he wrote this thing, Henley was roughly the same age as Eminem is now. Eminem recently wrote this NSFW track. Which do you think seems more self-centered? I gotta say, I think Ol' Don has my vote.

Barry Manillow - Copacabana

 

It's hard to completely hate on poor Barry, because he really did define a generation and time, and he really is a very talented composer. But when a song tries to be a Hollywood extravaganza, it at LEAST needs a satisfying ending. Where's Rico? Did Tony live or die? Lola clearly knows what happened, so who shot who, Barry? WHO SHOT WHO????

Grab your own personal over-plotted story-songs and throw 'em in the comments below. Plus, let us just remind you: some images come from the corresponding Wikipedia page and are here under fair use. See you next week.