Just for entertainment while I'm working on some other posts, here's the song Red Dirt Girl from Emmylou Harris' wonderful Red Dirt Girl album.
I love Emmylou Harris, though she can be a bit of a downer (not her personally, I'm sure she's delightful, but the songs and that keening voice can just get you).
I was thinking that this is really an album, in the sense of a collection of songs that go together. They may not tell the same story, but it's like a novel, an aural novel transporting to another place. Sometimes those places are where you first listened to them--this one was on heavy play for me on my CD player when I worked downtown near the stock exchange--and sometimes they're about pulling you out of where you are. The songs here took me to a country place in the midst of the city; U2's "A Kind of Homecoming" never fails to plunge me deep in snow (I'm sure that's from a video or something, but the whole album feels like that to me, just like Joshua Tree is summer); Jane Siberry's excellent meditation on relationships and loss "When I Was a Boy" (who, according to her website has now changed her name to Issa[there's a great note saying that all information about Jane Siberry should be gleaned from the website, and not asked of Issa -
"Her leap to virtual inventory mirrors her strong steps towards devoting herself even more completely to beinga pure artist. She will also move away from having a ‘home’, ‘car’ and anything she considers anti-’travelling light’ to simply living where she works. Her response to ‘where do you live?’ will not be ‘nowhere’ but ‘everywhere’.]). Wow.
I've always loved songs, and particularly respond to lyrics, as they feel like short stories to me, and gravitate to songwriters who are storytellers (probably why I like country/folk a lot). To be truthful, I've never gotten people who don't hear song lyrics; I know they're out there and I've met many of them, but it's unfathomable to me. I guess it would make sense a full album is like a novel. Though that's never struck me before today.
So go out there and listen to your favorite novel.