Songs thatTell a Story Language Arts 9 Mrs McKnight
Telling a Story• A narrative poem is one that tells a story—it contains the elements of a short story.• Poems and songs have a lot in common so like narrative poems, a song can tell a story too.• Sometimes music is added to a poem and it becomes a song.
A Boy Named Sue My daddy left home when I was three And he didnt leave much to ma and me Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze. Now, I dont blame him cause he run and hid But the meanest thing that he ever did Was before he left, he went and named me "Sue." Well, he must o thought that is quite a joke And it got a lot of laughs from a lots of folk, It seems I had to fight my whole life through. Some gal would giggle and Id get red And some guyd laugh and Id bust his head, I tell ya, life aint easy for a boy named "Sue."Recorded by: Johnny Cash
Elements of a Story Review• Remember in our short story unit, we examined: » Plot (rising action, climax, resolution) » Characters » Setting, mood and tone » Conflict » Theme » Dialogue » Story techniques (flashback, foreshadowing)
Plot• It refers to the events of the story.• In fiction, we usually look at the rising action, the problem, the climax and resolution.• In a song, think about what happens and the series of events.
Characters• The people in the story.• Characterization can be direct or indirect.• The narrator might be a character.• In a song, think about who is telling to story and what you can infer about the characters.
Setting• It’s where the story takes place.• It can include the societal context.• In a song, think about the background or mood of the story.
Conflict• It is the opposition facing the main character.• Man vs Man, Man vs Himself, Man vs Society, Man vs Nature etc.• In a song, think about the problem and the emotion that may come from it.
Theme• This is the message of a story.• It is what the author is saying about life beyond the story.• In a song, sometimes the chorus might give you a hint to the theme.
• Dialogue—The direct words spoken by the characters.• Foreshadowing—hints that suggest something that will happen later.• Flashback—a scene that takes us back to an earlier time. It might shed insight into the current situation or character.
What elements of a story can youfind in these song lyrics?
Save the Life of My Child"Good God! Dont jump!" A patrol car passing byA boy sat on the ledge. Halted to a stop.An old man who had fainted was revived. Said officer MacDougal in dismay:And everyone agreed it would be a miracle indeed "The force cant do a decent jobIf the boy survived. Cause the kids got no respect For the law today (and blah blah blah).""Save the life of my child!"Cried the desperate mother. "Save the life of my child!" Cried the desperate mother.The woman from the supermarket "Whats becoming of the children?"Ran to call the cops. People asking each other."He must be high on something," someone said.Though it never made The New York Times. When darkness fell, excitement kissed the crowdIn The Daily News, the caption read, And made them wild"Save the life of my child!" In an atmosphere of freaky holiday.Cried the desperate mother. When the spotlight hit the boy, The crowd began to cheer, He flew away. Performed by Simon and Garfunkel
Did you notice…• Plot: A boy is on a ledge about to jump. A woman ran for the police. The gathering crowd and police talk about what is wrong with him/kids these days while his mom is upset. In the end, he jumps.• Characters: The boy, his desperate mother, officer MacDougal etc. We aren’t told anything about the boy or his problems but we can infer that he was depressed, felt misunderstood, was unhappy…
• Setting: By the last stanza, the setting seems almost festive, like a party, as the crowd gathers to watch the spectacle. It’s a contrast to the seriousness of the situation.• Possible Theme: The generations don’t truly understand each other. We can infer this because the crowds shift their focus to complaints and assumptions about young people.• Conflict: Difficult to determine because we don’t learn much about the boy--possibly Man vs Society based on our inferences.• Other: There was some dialogue “Don’t jump!”
As I Went Out One MorningAs I went out one morning "Depart from me this moment,"To breathe the air around Tom Paines, I told her with my voice.I spied the fairest damsel Said she, "But I dont wish to,"That ever did walk in chains. Said I, "But you have no choice."I offerd her my hand, "I beg you, sir," she pleadedShe took me by the arm. From the corners of her mouth,I knew that very instant, "I will secretly accept youShe meant to do me harm. And together well fly south." Just then Tom Paine, himself, Came running from across the field, Shouting at this lovely girl And commanding her to yield. And as she was letting go her grip, Up Tom Paine did run, "Im sorry, sir," he said to me, "Im sorry for what shes done."Written and performed by Bob Dylan
Other Songs with Stories• Fast Cars by Tracy Chapman• Love Story by Taylor Swift• Mr. Mom by Lonestar• Papa Don’t Preach by Madonna• Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne• She’s Leaving Home by the Beatles• Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin
Coming Up Next• Songs that use figurative language• Song that express a personal feeling or emotion (like lyrical poems)• Songs that have meaning (analysis)