Mix Tape Monday is a new series of posts – I’m going to share with you… wait for it… a mix tape each Monday!

Some songs sound nice. Some have nice words. The songs that I like the best have great music, and tell great stories.

Here are a few of my favourites.

The Decemberists – The Mariner’s Revenge
These guys do story-songs really well, but this one is my favourites. A boy’s mother, on her death bed, tells him about his scoundrel father who took off on them. The son goes around the world, on ships, through churches, into a whale, tracking down the man who hurt his mother so badly. I love it. All eight-almost-nine minutes of it.
And Colin Meloy’s a dream boat. And if you’ve got kids, look into Wildwood – he tells stories for children just as epic and fantastical as his songs.

Colin Meloy – Crane Wife pt 1, 2, and 3
While we’re talking about Colin Meloy, let’s talk about Crane Wife. It’s based on an ancient Japanese story. The song’s written in character, the sad story of the man who discovers, loves, and loses his crane wife. Colin Meloy brings this story to aching life (“All I ever meant to do was to keep you, my crane wife” …*sob!*)

Regina Spektor – Samson
It’s hard to tell whether Regina Spektor’s telling the actual story of Samson and Delilah in this song, or if she’s using it as a metaphor for something else. I interpret it to be a telling of Samson and Delilah which suggests that Samson was Delilah’s downfall too, and that Delilah was devastated when she betrayed him.

In the song, Samson kisses and comforts Delilah despite her betrayal, and she mourns that “We couldn’t bring the columns down / We couldn’t destroy a single one” after Samson loses his strength. Spektor here tells an alternative, untold story.

Nick Cave – Stagger Lee
Again based on a traditional story, Stagger Lee is a murder ballad, which is something Nick Cave does ridiculously well. So well that he released a whole album of them. I’m not sure if I love the murder story or the ridiculous film clip more. The gyrating! The go-go dancers! Shit. It looks like the best party I ever missed.

Bright Eyes – Bowl of Oranges
A sad man takes a trip out into the world, and he starts to feel better because he meets some lovely people. Such a lovely song.