Songs and the Stories Behind Them

In my live performances, I have started doing a lot more storytelling. Folks seem to enjoy it. And while I do believe the songs stand on their own, it also seems that some narrative background enhances the experience of hearing them. I know telling the stories behind the songs at least enhances my experience of playing them. Frankly, it also has the practical benefit of calming me me down a bit between songs and focusing me for the next song - so I don't play it too fast, for example.  

In my songwriting, I tend to go for more particular images and references over more general ones, because I think life is experienced in the particular rather than in general. One of my songs about a long-distance relationship makes reference to Knoxville and Pittsburgh. Someone recommended that I change it to "the South" and "the North," and that just felt all wrong to me because people in relationships live in particular places, not just somewhere down South or up North. But I suspect that in a live performance, all these very particular images and references can get a bit overwhelming; so the storytelling helps to give a little context.


This is something that's been cooking for a while.  But it really started to gel this past spring when I attended a several-day retreat with David Wilcox.  David is masterful at weaving stories and songs together, and it struck me that it added this whole other dimension to the performance.  Todd Snider also does this in his solo performances.  Last time I played at the Open Chord's Songwriter Night, on Oct. 4, I had such a good time sharing my songs and their stories that I decided to expand the storytelling in my full-length shows.  I used this format in Friday's (Nov. 18) Vienna Coffee House gig, and it felt right and (I think) went over well.  I'm excited about doing more of this in upcoming shows, so get in touch if you'd like to book something!

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