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I've had this CD - Every Song Tells a Story - in my collection for quite some time now and it continues to be one of my firm favourites that I bring out to listen to many times. It's a compilation of songs from various artists and the one thing that they all have in common is that they each tell a story. Considering that most of the tracks are only three or four minutes that's no mean feat! Most of the songs are very well known although as the album was made in 1995 there are no recent hits on there but there are certainly some timeless classics such as Elton John's Candle in the Wind and Up the Junction by Squeeze.
Inside the CD case there is a pullout leaflet which provides all the lyrics for all the songs which is great for if you want to sing along. Also, there is a brief introduction to the story behind each of the songs which is fab for helping to understand the lyrics. At the back of the leaflet there is alittle explanation that states:
This album is dedicated to discerning listeners who value content more than danceability...
There are nineteen tracks in all and each one I listen to becomes my favourite for the few minutes that I become engrossed in that story. Here is the list of all nineteen tracks so you can see what a fantastic range there is and I'm just going to use that list to describe some of my favourites:
1. Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel
2. Candle In The Wind - John, Elton
3. Praying For Time - Michael, George
4. Little Time - Beautiful South
5. Alison - Costello, Elvis
6. Hazard - Marx, Richard
7. Romeo And Juliet - Dire Straits
8. Living Years - Mike & The Mechanics
9. Dignity - Deacon Blue
10. Up The Junction - Squeeze
11. You're So Vain - Simon, Carly
12. WOLD - Chapin, Harry
13. Ode To Billy Joe - Gentry, Bobbie
14. Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town - Rogers, Kenny
15. Babooshka - Bush, Kate
16. Vincent - McLean, Don
17. Uptown Uptempo Woman - Edelman, Randy
18. Waterloo Sunset - Kinks
19. Classic - Gurvitz, Adrian
The first song is one that I love - The Boxer - by Simon and Garfunkel. This was recorded in 1969 and tells quite poignantly of a man who is a bit of a loner and feels alienated from society. It's a wonderful haunting melody and one that you cannot help but sing along with.
Elton John's Candle in the Wind has to be one of the most memorable songs ever. In this, the original, he tells of Marilyn Munroe's early tragic death and her sometimes lonely life. The lyrics in this song are truly memorable but also very sad. Many people will also be aware of Elton's later rewrite which was a tribute to Princess Diana.
In complete contrast, the next track on the album is George Michael's Playing for Time which is his lament for modern society and the direction it is heading in. The lyrics are extremely thought provoking as they attack the materialistic world we live in. Considering the song was written in 1990, it feels as though it would be just as appropriate for today's society.
Next comes 'A Little Time' by the Beautiful South which tells the story of a broken engagement. This song was particularly meaningful to me back in 1990 and I emphasise with the way the clever lyrics show just how hurt the storyteller feels. Elvis Costello wrote about Alison way back in 1977. This is another song telling of a relationship break up. Later on in the album Randy Edelman describes the differences between himself and his wife in Uptown Uptempo Woman.
Still on the reationship theme another absolute favourite of mine is the Dire Straits classic Romeo and Juliet. This is a fantastic modern take of the well known Shakespeare play demonstrating that, as far as love is concerned, things never change. The slow sultry melody and the poignant lyrics definitely make this one a classic.
And just when you though relationships could not get any worse there is Up the Junction from Squeeze first recorded in 1979. From the very first time I heard this song I loved it. It's probably quite depressing telling first of young love followed by an unwanted pregnancy, marriage and finally divorce, but it's also brilliant and the way the lyrics are written is very clever. There is something quite inevitable about this story - another one that could be a sad reflection on today's society.
One of the most famous songs that tell a story is Carly Simon's You're So Vain which is also here on the album. This amazing song is definitely having a pop at someone! Most people think that the man in the firing line was Warren Beatty but I don't think that has ever actually been confirmed! I do expect most of us (over a certain age) have stood in front of our mirrors belting out these lyrics with our own particular nemesis in mind! I know I have!
There are a couple of country and western classics included with Bobby Gentry's song Ode to Billie Joe and Kenny Rogers song Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town.
There seems to be a theme of relationships gone wrong in most of the songs but there are a couple which tell completely different stories. One is Vincent by Don McLean which is his tribute to Dutch painter Vincent Van Gough. Another is the final song on the album which is actually about someone writing a song - Classic by Adrian Gurvitz.
I started by saying that the one thing that all the songs on the album had in common was that they told stories. Now, having thought about them a little more and listened to some of their wonderful lyrics I would also say that, in common, they are all classics of their time. I guess most songs attempt to tell a story in one way or another but all of these do it exceptionally well. It's the sort of album you might prefer to listen to when you are in a more contemplative mood and I really can't see many people dancing along to it. However, get a hairbrush to act as a microphone, stand in front of the mirror and belt out with feeling some of these great lyrics and you will probably feel great!
It's worth just mentioning the album cover briefly as it is really quite clever. Marilyn stands in the foreground beside a despairing boxer and in front of a serenading Romeo. In fact some element from most of the tracks is included in this great picture.
There was a second Every Song Tells a Story produced in 2002 but I wonder which songs of today might make it on to a third? Suggestions on a postcard please!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel
2 Candle In The Wind - John, Elton
3 Praying For Time - Michael, George
4 Little Time - Beautiful South
5 Alison - Costello, Elvis
6 Hazard - Marx, Richard
7 Romeo And Juliet - Dire Straits
8 Living Years - Mike & The Mechanics
9 Dignity - Deacon Blue
10 Up The Junction - Squeeze
11 You're So Vain - Simon, Carly
12 WOLD - Chapin, Harry
13 Ode To Billy Joe - Gentry, Bobbie
14 Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town - Rogers, Kenny
15 Babooshka - Bush, Kate
16 Vincent - McLean, Don
17 Uptown Uptempo Woman - Edelman, Randy
18 Waterloo Sunset - Kinks
19 Classic - Gurvitz, Adrian