November 11, 2013

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny

Unfortunately, this mix tape does not contain Faith No More.
I am unbelievably excited for this week's Twisted Mix Tape. The theme?
My Skewed View
Epic stories.

I love story songs. I love when a story is also an involved saga. I use any excuse to incorporate those songs in other situations- like "The Mariner's Revenge" by The Decemberists.

So this week we're in MY playground.


First, a word about Jill Sobule. She is the queen of the story song. All her songs are stories. Picking just one is almost impossible. Really, you should check out her entire catalog. I'm kind of sucker for the whole WWII French Resistance motif, and I'm 100% a sucker for an accordion, so this song is the winner.

Let's be honest. About half of the playlists people come up for this theme are going to have American Pie on them. And they should. Because it is a master of both storytelling and songwriting. So good. So, so, so good.

My mother is an enormous fan of Christine Lavin. And I get it- she's wonderful. Really, incredibly witty, funny, poignant. The first time I saw her in concert (with my mother) this was a new song. And let me tell you, I laughed my ass off. And while you might not consider it "epic," you have to admit... if you just happened to run into Harrison Ford, you also might consider it one of the most epic moments in your life.

And now for something completely different. I love this song. Hip hop is a spectacular medium for storytelling. And sometimes an MC takes their lyrics and does something incredibly surprising and beautiful. And this is one of those songs.

There's a wonderful storytelling trend on the rise these days of turning slam poetry into music. (Don't get me started on Ken Nordine and the prolonged existence of Word Jazz, let's just accept that it's a new trend.) At any rate, this is Ani's song about September 11th, but also about the entire political climate at the time. It's deep. And real. And raw. Epic.

Again, now for something completely different. Country music has always been the art of storytelling. It allows for humor, heartbreak, profundity... really, Country music is an amazingly versatile medium. I just thought we could all use a little humor right about now, so enjoy. As soon as you're done with this, the time to laugh is over.

Billie Holiday. Really, what more is there to say about her? And this song... it might not be storytelling in the way that "De Lovely" is storytelling, but it is the poetry of oral history- at the very least. And it is a story that is horrifically under told. When I listen to this song I think of the National Mall, the memorials to soldiers and presidents... and consider that we have no memorial to the millions and millions of souls who were abducted and killed in this country, to build this country, and who's descendants shape our cultural fabric. Strange fruit, indeed.

Back to explicit stories. Who doesn't love a story about the post-apocalyptic robot invasion being thwarted by a vitamin-munchin karate master heroine?

In case you didn't know, I'm kind of obsessed with Harry Potter. Not the movies, those suck. I'm talking about the books. And by extension, Wizard Rock. It is the one thing M has sacrificed for me more than anything- he will sit in the car without complaint as I sing along to Harry and the Potters (or Draco and the Malfoys, or Roonil Wozlib...). Because he is a saint.

Last but not least, you cannot list epic songs without this EPIC song. Happy listening. :)

Now go enjoy the rest of your irreparably weird day.


  1. this is a seriously fun list. Boy Named Sue - in the great tradition of the folk/country spoken/sung story song, Billy Holliday - wow, as always. And the other songs are new to me and I really got a kick out of all of them - particularly The Flaming Lips tune.

  2. I loved the Ani DiFranco song/poetry and the Harrison Ford song :) And, yes - I think American Pie will feature prominently this week. But I also agree with you that it should! Loved the variety on this list!

  3. yow seriously eclectic list here! I mean, 'American Pie' and 'A Boy Named Sue'… and thats citing just the songs that I know without having to listen…the others…very cool mix tape!

  4. I love American Pie as well. Cash is one great storyteller! Thanks for sharing this awesome list!

  5. As a girl with a boy's name, I have a love/hate thing going with A Boy Named Sue. Also, that Billie Holiday is exceptional ! Nicely done list!

  6. So glad to see "A Boy Named Sue" on someone's list.

  7. American Pie has to be one of the best story-songs, ever. Also? I'd never heard the Harrison Ford song before and I love it! Her voice, her humor, awesome. Thanks to your mom from me, too! It's good to know that even telepathically, he's a compelling guy!

  8. Wait, how do I not know about this wizard rock thing? I'm a nerd, why didn't I get the memo?? Either way, I know now...thanks for that!

  9. ^^^We're geeks - not nerds. Geeks are way cooler than nerds. ;)^^^

    Anywho - loooooved your list. You are also apparently super fun.

  10. Oh. My. Goodness. I love Draco & The Malfoys. I saw them live at the Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows book release party in Harvard Square with Harry & The Potters and the Hungarian Horntails. This is quite the list!

  11. As I listened to the first cut on the list, I was forming a post in my head about having missed Christine Lavin. Touche. I would have liked to have seen Paul Robeson's Ballad for Americans
    Hard to get more epic than that.

  12. Oh you are so wonderful I love you so much for including Yoshimi, I picked that song for a 100 word song prompt because I love it so much. Also it took me this long to comment because once again you posted an Epic list for our Epic prompt, and I spent so much time listening (thank you for the intro to Christine Lavin!) that I had to come back! Your lists are always spectacular, if a bit long ;-)



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