Some Songs Make Great Short Stories

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:”

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Some Songs Make Great Short Stories

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:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Some Songs Make Great Short Stories

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 fifteen:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Some Songs Make Great Short Stories

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’m calling the series “Short Story in a Song.” Here are the first ten:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Short Story in a Song — “Misunderstood”

I got Wilco’s debut album, A.M., when it came out, but it wasn’t until they released Being There that I really sat up and took notice. There are a lot of great songs on this ambitious double album, including “Outtasite (Outta Mind),” “I Got You (At The End of the Century)” and “Sunken Treasure,” but nothing quite so anthemic as the opening track. Sitting somewhere on the angsty suburban continuum between The Replacements and Beach Slang, “Misunderstood” gives a sneak peek into the musical direction Wilco would later perfect on their breakthrough album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Our narrator is back in his old neighborhood, smoking cigarettes and wondering what happened to his music career. There are million dollar song ideas rattling round his head, but he’s convinced that nobody wants to hear them. Beat down and fresh out of  inspiration, he falls back into comfortable addictions that deliver oblivion one house party at a time. Things have gotten so hopeless that he even starts to question his love of rock and roll—the one thing in life that always gave him hope. So don’t be surprised if you find him somewhere screaming at the top of his lungs, thanking each and every one of us for nothing at all.

Read the full lyrics for “Misunderstood” HERE.

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

New YouTube Channel For Your Ear/Eye Holes

 

I have been doing a weekly music feature on this blog for the last four months called “Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song.” And now I’ve created a YouTube playlist to go along with it. I’ll be updating the playlist every week as I add a new song.

The series is an exploration of the lyrical narrative in some of my favorite music. Last week I posted my 21st installment about the classic Whiskeytown track “16 Days.” For those of you new to the concept, here’s a complete list of all the songs featured to date starting with the most recent:

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been published by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#13)

I got Wilco’s debut album, “A.M.,” when it came out because I liked the song “Box Full of Letters.” But it wasn’t until they released their second album, “Being There,” that I really sat up and took notice. There are a lot of great songs on this ambitious double album, including “Outtasite (Outta Mind),” “I Got You (At The End of the Century)” and “Sunken Treasure”—but nothing quite as anthemic as the opening track “Misunderstood.” Channeling the sort of angsty, suburban shiftlessness previously perfected by Paul Westerberg, “Misunderstood” gives a sneak peek into the musical direction the band would later perfect on “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”

Have you ever wondered what happened to those kids that stayed behind after high school? The one’s who smoked a little more weed than they dealt and were still digging into KISS, Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin when their friends had moved on to The Replacements, The Pixies and Nirvana. Jeff Tweedy’s lyrics can always be a bit of a mystery, but there is a hopelessness and depression that echoes throughout this song like a drunk screaming at the top of his lungs as he walks down Main Street in the middle of the night. Nobody is listening, and he feels like nobody has ever been listening. Which all makes the final lyrical crescendo that much more sad and profound—”I’d like to thank you all for nothin’, I’d like to thank you all for nothin’ at all…”

Read the lyrics to “Misunderstood” HERE.

Previous installments in this series: