A great record is like a book. Each song is a chapter, building on the one before it, all of them coming together to tell a story. Hollywood Town Hall is a Minnesota story for me, and I love every song. You can't say that about many records, and it got me thinking about other records that create a story for me.
In the order I discovered them, here are 5 records with great songs from top to bottom, great individual songs working together to create a story.
5) Born in the USA, Bruce: Springsteen is a master storyteller, and this is his best story. It's the story of looking back and finding the meaning in your life. I didn't really understand that when I was young, but when I listen now, I hear a story of reflection with an eye to the future.
4) Joshua Tree, U2: This record spawned a number of hits, but the songs that weren't radio hits are just as good. When I listen to Joshua Tree, I hear the story of my transition from high school to college, a time in my life when this record was perpetually playing in my head.
3) Nevermind, Nirvana: In a lot of ways, Nevermind tells the same story as Joshua Tree. I graduated from college in '91, and this record feels like a chronicle of that time, another time of great transition. Nevermind was a snarling record, a call to make the transition to adulthood on your own terms, regardless of what others might say.
2) Hollywood Town Hall, The Jayhawks: My first night in Minneapolis, I walked up to the Uptown Bar and Grill to listen to some music. I'd never heard of The Jayhawks, but I fell in love straightaway, and this record is the story of my years in Minneapolis, a time when I became a teacher, met my wife, bought a home.
1) Day and Age, the killers: Hailing from Las Vegas, the killers know a thing or two about the desert. The desert is an unforgiving place, but it is also a place of unrivaled beauty. Day and Age is a story about seeing beauty all around me, the beauty of creating a family in a troubled world.
I hope I'm not the only one who hears stories in his favorite music. What are some other records that tell great stories?