top 10 songs that tell a story

best songs that tell a storyStorytelling songs make for the most memorable party moments, because chances are, most people know the lyrics, even the wall flowers and the too-cool-for-school-ers who pretend they don’t memorize lyrics. There is something about storytelling songs that make people feel compelled to sing along. To tell the story. Being someone who LOVES a good sing-a-long, storytelling songs have a special place in my heart.

Here are my picks for the:

TOP 10 BEST SONGS THAT TELL A STORY (counting down from 10 to 1):

10) Tribute by Tenacious DTribute is Jack Black & Kyle Gass at their finest (though F*ck Her Gently is by far and away the best Tenacious D song ever). Suspense and sarcasm abound in this song that starts off with the line “This the greatest and best song in the world.” And really, it just might be. At least it’s in the top 10 of this list.

9) Rocky Raccoon by The Beatles: A Brit singing a catchy, if not repetitive D’da’da’da’da’da refrain in a southern accent makes this one of the best storytelling songs of all time. If you’ve never heard this less-known Beatles tune from The White Album, go buy it on iTunes, stat.

8) Blasphemous Rumours by Depeche Mode: If not one of the most depressing songs in the world, this Debbie Downer of a ditty tells a dark, depressing story of a teen who wants to kill herself. It was a sure way to get a tween girl crying at any party in 1984.

7) Day in The Life by The Beatles – There is something magical about this song, especially after seeing “Love” in Las Vegas. Singing it makes me happy.

6) Romeo and Juliet by Indigo Girls – This re-telling of one of the best love stories of all time is gut-wrenching and haunting. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straights wrote and performed it first but the IG version is the only one I know.

5) Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers – Almost more important than knowing when to count your money at the table, is knowing when to turn the other cheek. In this song that chokes me up in the last verse, EVERY TIME, a simple lesson is learned: “sometimes you gotta fight to be a man.”

4) Parents Just Don’t Understand by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith before Men in Black) – Now this jam is actually two stories for the price of one. You have the story of school shopping with a mom who’s still living in 1973 and then you have the story of multiple shenanigans while mom & pop going out of town for a few days. I think this song needs to make a come back.

Disclaimer: Picking the order of the top 3 was difficult for me because a valid, convincing argument can be made on behalf of all three of them to be in that #1 slot, but here is what I ultimately came up with:

3) Paradise By the Dashboard Lights by Meatloaf – This timeless classic about “going all the way” in a car with lyrics like, “before we go any further, do you love me, will you love me forever?” is something that every generation of teenagers in any decade can relate to (so long as cars had been invented). The current generation will know it as the song that won nationals for the New Directions.

2) Devil Went Down To Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band: I bet a fiddle of gold that this song doesn’t make you slap your knee and do si do around the bar a couple of times. This one is a crowd pleaser at any bar, at any time, with any crowd.

1) Paul Revere by The Beastie Boys: If you were born circa 1972 then chances are you will know how to finish this sentence: “Now, here’s a little story I got to tell . . .” or this one, “I grabbed two girlies and a . . .” Those history making phrases are bookends to one of the greatest hip hop songs of all time by the genius music trio known as the Beastie Boys. It came out in 1986 and was played, or at least sung a capella, with slurred tongues, at nearly every party I attended for the subsequent fifteen years.

When Beastie Boy Adam Yauch died of cancer last month, in a string of disheartening music industry deaths, it struck me just how much The Beastie Boys influenced an entire generation of kids and of the industry itself. Not only with Paul Revere but with countless rap/rock tunes that get the crowd going, drinking, and sabotaging. This video of an entire stadium filled with thousands of fans, singing the words to Paul Revere is case in point that it deserves the #1 slot in this Top 10 countdown.

Paul Revere Beastie Boys

BFF Mern's latest T-shirt purchase in NYC

Did any of your fave storytelling songs not make it on the list?



  1. 1

    My favorite is Parents Just Don’t Understand. Probably because I remember being a kid when it came out. (Yes, I’m dating myself here). I remember feeling that my parents really didn’t understand. Haha! What a trip down memory lane.

  2. 2
    Jamie says:

    Great list! My Dad sang me “Rocky Raccoon” as a lullaby when I was little, so I will always love it. An epic story song is “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot. It’s sad and a little corny and over six minutes long!

  3. 3

    Gonna have to come back to this! I got a million of ‘em!

  4. 4

    I’m terrible at knowing artists and song titles – one thing hubby wishes I were better at – but when you can sing it a capella for years to come you know it’s deserving of the #1 spot. Hubby wants to take me to see 80’s mix tape downtown so I can appreciate more of the 80’s – I’m more of a 90’s girl – amazing the 2 years difference in age between hubby and I and how it separates our music choice. Music is so powerful for the way it brings you right back to your living room as a 13 year old dancing to MTV. More music posts, Mary!

  5. 5
    Sherri says:

    Oh, this takes me back! You are the best, my friend!

  6. 6
    Nicole says:

    How difficult was this list to red line? If I had to toss in an honorable mention or two they would be:
    Jungleland – Bruce Springsteen
    Maggie May – Rod Stewart.

    Who am I kidding? I could go on and on. Let’s do a Top 25, shall we?

  7. 7

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