I’m sure all of us creative people have listened to a song and thought it had the makings of a great story. Of course many songs tell stories set to music. But I’m writing about songs that would inspire you to expand on the story outlined in the lyrics. What songs could be novels?
I have listened to many songs over the years that fall into my writing genre, crime. A lot of them are country or folk songs. I didn’t realize that these types of songs had their own subgenre, murder ballads. I learned this when I read the book accompanying Ken Burns’s PBS documentary on country music. Murder ballads are songs that outline crimes, usually murder, and usually, they don’t have happy endings. I think these ballads came from songs sung in the British Isles. A local Celtic band performs a song “The Cobbler’s Daughter”, a traditional Irish song, about how a girl’s mother is in prison for accidentally killing her boyfriend, who had sneaked into their house.
I also think the “Dying Teen” songs of the fifties and sixties are a kind of offshoot of the murder ballad. Most of the time, crime isn’t involved. These songs deal with teens dying or getting injured, usually a car accident. Songs likes these are “Leader of the Pack”, “Dead Man’s Curve,” and “Last Kiss”. Any of these songs could inspire a longer story.
Here are some songs I think could be developed into novels in any number of ways.
“The Long Black Veil” by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin. I first heard this murder ballad sung by Mick Jagger on the Chieftains album The Long Black Veil.
“The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia” by Bobby Russell, sung by Vicki Lawrence. Definitely a murder ballad.
“Lyin’ Eyes” by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, sung by the Eagles. This isn’t a murder ballad but it certainly sets up the situation for one. In a small town, young wife of older husband has young boyfriend. Any one of them could get bumped off if someone used this story as its premise.
“Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul, and Mary based on a poem by Leonard Lipton. I know that either in the 70’s or 80’s a animated version of this song was made. I always hated this song as a kid because I felt so sorry for Puff and thought Jackie Paper was a total jerk. This could be a fun or very touching middle grade novel.
What songs could be a novels?