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I was watching a program about one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Harry Chapin.  It included a recording of one of his last live performances.

At one point, he tells the audience, “I have a lot of stories to tell you tonight.”  What follows is an amazing concert, but also an incredible exercise in storytelling.

Yes, songs can definitely tell stories…beyond today’s tunes dealing with boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy compensates with video game.  Length is not necessarily the best measure.  As much as I love BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, I would be hard pressed to uncover a coherent story in Queen’s superlative work.

No, what I’m talking about are the ballads.  Some of them tell incredible stories.  Unlike the usual format of the voice only, they are enhanced by the music into true Art.

Should we use such enhancements in our storytelling?  That will be the subject of a later exploration.

For now, let me step out of the scene and provide you with links to three amazing, musical storytellers…Harry Chapin, Arlo Guthrie, and Gordon Lightfoot.  These works speak for themselves, riveted my attention, sometimes made me laugh, and occasionally brought me to tears as do all of the best stories:

SNIPER – Harry Chapin

BETTER PLACE TO BE – Harry Chapin

MR. TANNER – Harry Chapin

30,000 POUNDS OF BANANAS – Harry Chapin

WHAT MADE AMERICA FAMOUS – Harry Chapin

CITY OF NEW ORLEANS – Arlo Guthrie

ALICE’S RESTAURANT – Arlo Guthrie

THE WRECK OF THE EDMUND FITZGERALD – Gordon Lightfoot

Thank you for listening!

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