Storytelling in song, whether it's an original idea or an interpretation of someone else's thoughts, is no easy task. But these tunes prove that it can be done, and can be done well. Here are five Christian throwback tracks that used their words and music to tell their audience a story.
"Irene" by TobyMac
Found on his debut album Momentum, "Irene" tells a story of a young girl going through hardships from God's point of view of. The narrator manages to introduce the audience to this woman, explain the life she's leading, and express the Lord's desire for her to depend upon Him. This is my personal favorite song from TobyMac, and I think it's a beautiful depiction of God's encouragement toward His children.
"Youth of the Nation" by P.O.D.
Potentially the best tune written by this band, "Youth of the Nation" tells multiple stories within a song about the troubles teenagers face during the most pivotal years of their lives. P.O.D. has always been good at painting vivid pictures with their songs, even if the format of the lyrics aren't meant to tell a story. It's a tragic track and an anthem for the youth of today's society.
"Two Sets of Jones'" by Big Tent Revival
Released in 1995, Christian folk rock band Big Tent Revival introduced us to their most famous song and a perfect example of storytelling in music. The narrator sets up two families, one that closely follows the Lord, and one that doesn't. They take you through their ups and downs, eventually exposing the outcome of each couple in the end, and expressing the need for people to set their foundation upon the Rock that is Christ.
"Ghost" by House of Heroes
House of Heroes is one of the greatest underground bands in Christian music (if not the greatest, in my opinion). They are experts at storytelling, and that is made obvious in the song "Ghost," which was a bonus track on the 2009 CD issue of the album. The story is about a man who falls into the wrong crowd, serves time for his mistakes, and comes out of prison in a changed world. It's gorgeous and heartbreaking. And they're magnificent (what can I say? I'm a little biased).
"Deathbed" by Relient K
Clocking in at 11 minutes and five seconds, Relient K depicts the life of an unhappy man who doesn't find God until the end of his days. The song is set from the man's deathbed as he reminisces on his past, the mistakes he made, and his discovery of forgiveness and grace. Invoking raw and uncomfortable emotional tones while depicting the approach of death is why this song will always be remembered as some of Matt Thiessen's greatest lyrical work.
Jessi Ellerbe owns a small record store in Florida. She loves music more than anything in this world (except Jesus, of course). If she's not listening to music or working at her store, she's usually out record hunting, going to Disney World, spending time with her boyfriend, hanging out with family or friends, catching up on a favorite TV show, or curling up on the couch and watching a movie. (Cover photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash)
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