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Top 20 Story Songs of All Time

The Best Songs that Tell a Story with Their Lyrics

Some songs just say 3 words over and over (most from 1997 to 2011 rap/Gaga era) with nothing to say and no inspiration. Other songs are actually written with a story in mind. They weave a tale and do more than say "I love ya, babe." A few of these songs are based on true stories, and they all inspire us to think. These are the top 20 Story Songs of all time.

20 - Dark Lady by Cher, about fortune telling, cheating and murder. A sequel to Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.

19 - The River by Bruce Springsteen, about a kid who's stuck in his home town.

18 - Millie and Billie - Alice Cooper wrote this song about 2 insane people who come together over murder. It's a fun little story with a twist ending.

17 - The Night Chicago Died - Paperlace. The story of Al Capone and the gangstas of the 20s.

16 - Escape (The Pina Cola Song) by Rupert Holmes. The song we love to hate. It's a sappy tale of a husband planning to cheat on his wife by placing a personals ad. He then discovers his perfect match, the ad's respondent, is his own "lovely lady."

15 - In the Ghetto '" Elvis Presley -- Elvis sang about the cycle of crime for a kid in the ghetto; tough to break out of it.

14 - Seasons in the Sun (1974) Terry Jacks; a sad song about dying.

13 - Thunderchild - Jeff Wayne. A piece of the War of the Worlds story, telling of the battle between the famous battleship and two giant alien tripods.

12 - Taxi by Harry Chapin. Harry has a whole library of story songs. Taxi is about a taxi driver whose latest fare is his old high school sweetheart. Neither of them achieved any of their dreams, but he gets to get high in the cab anyway.

11 - The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia - Vicky Lawrence (1974). Murder and deceit in a backwoods hick town, with a crooked sheriff and a femme fatale.

10 - American Pie - Don Mclean. America during the 50s and 60s.

9 - Tangled up in Blue - Bob Dylan, a legendary songwriter, writes about changes in life.

8 - The Homecoming Queen's got a Gun by Julie Brown. "Everybody run! The homecoming queen's gotta gun!" From the wackiest comedienne of the 80s.

7 - Captain Jack by Billy Joel. Oops, you have to figure this one out for yourself. The subject matter is rated taboo. Captain Jack will get you by tonight.

6 - Papa was a Rolling Stone - The Temptations, about hard times and growing up without solid parents.

5 - Let Joy and Innocence Prevail - Grace Jones. The story of woman who waits for her husband, a captain in war. A very pretty song.

4 - Objects in the Rear view Mirror by Meat Loaf . 'Loaf loses his best friend to a car crash. Meat Loaf wrote a great many story songs: Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Bat Out of Hell, and more.

3 - Too Old to Rock-n-Roll, Too Young to Die by Jethro Tull . The old rocker is too old to get on stage, but too young to die. Somewhere in the middle, he finds rock-n-roll anyway.

2 - Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. It's familiar to us: the father has no time for his kids, then the kids grow up with no time for the parents. Few songwriters are as prolific as Harry Chapin. "A Better Place to Be" is also a great story song by him.

1 - Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot. My favorite story song, this is the true story of the famous cargo ship that sank in the Great Lakes in a 1975 storm.  There were no survivors, but the songs still lives today. It rarely gets airplay, but it was cruising the radio waves in the 70's every day. One of the most played, loved, and remembered story songs of all time.
When suppertime came the old cook came on deck sayin'.  "Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya."
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in; he said,  "Fellas, it's beenn good to know ya!"

2112 by Rush is probably the greatest story song of all, about a future world without music. An archaeologist discovers a guitar and tries to bring music back to society. I'll put it here as an honorable mention, since it's not a single release or pop hit. It's nearly an entire album side. Do check it out when you find the time - it tells a great story in song.

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