I’m a writer and a music fan, so I often think of the lyrics to my favorite songs as short stories. A couple of the best elements are usually there—from isolation, desperation and validation to heartbreak, betrayal and revenge. Some songwriters create easy to follow narratives, while others make you tease the story out. Great songs can make us imagine exactly what the songwriter envisioned, but it’s more fun to create our own version of the story as we listen.
Lately I’ve been digging deeper with daily posts that re-imagine lyrics through the lens of short fiction. I can’t promise that I’ll keep up this pace, but I’m having fun for now. I call the series “Short Story in a Song.” Here are the first twenty:
I went to see Weezer in Hollywood last night. It got me thinking about how I was introduced to the band and the impact they had on my musical tastes in the early 90s. I was fresh off the plane from Europe when a friend handed me the blue album, swearing I would love it. I remember describing their sound as a cross between The Pixies and The Beach Boys back then, with fantastic hooks and interesting lyrics. It might be hard to remember now, but Weezer’s early music was chock full of angsty Emo goodness with “Undone—The Sweater Song,” “Buddy Holly,” “Tired of Sex” and “Why Bother?” But my all-time favorite, and a song that would make a great short story, is “Say It Ain’t So.”
Our narrator is exploring his refrigerator when he discovers a bottle of beer that is pregnant with meaning for him. It isn’t exactly clear what drives this mounting uncertainty, but it chills him to the bone. He heads for the living room to watch some TV, all the while haunted by the unwanted feelings that morph and mutate in the back of his mind. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that an overwhelming sense of loss is behind his apprehension, wrapped up in the failed relationships with the father figures in his life. And behind it all is the presence of alcohol which fuels his growing sense of dread. “Say It Ain’t So” is an amazing song and it would make a great short story.
Read the lyrics for “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer right HERE.