Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten songs which are also great fantasy short stories

Fantasy seems to fit itself better to the song form than other genre fiction. I like to think it says something about its roots in the exhumations of epic poetry by Tolkien and others, as well as the survival/revival of the wierd in the folksong tradition.

Here are ten tracks which stand up as short - possibly a little experimental - fantasy fiction while also being great songs. Do you have any additions to this list?

1. Patti Smith, Birdland: Farmboy has prophetic visions after his dad's funeral, declares himself inhuman, acquires spooky eyes and an affinity for ravens.

2. Led Zeppelin, The Battle Of Evermore: On many levels ridiculous elf-folk about armageddon, redeemed by utter dead-pan sincerity by Plant and Denny and lovely, darling mandolin. The only entry on this list with serious Tolkien debt.

3. Joanna Newsom, Monkey and Bear: There is room in this list for one tragic story of carnival animals eloping, from the Angela Carter modern fairytale wing of fantasy. Quotes from Westside Story and makes me tearful.

4. Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, The Game of Eyes: "The Game Of Eyes is played between two people on a burning marble board! Mwa ha ha ha!" Nuff said.

5. Prince, Darling Nikki: Prince is the L Rider Haggard of funk (probably NSFW lyrically).

6. Joni Mitchell, Roses Blue: Problems with fortune-telling, part 1

7. Comets On Fire, Hatched Upon The Age: Problems with fortune telling, part 2

8. Tom Waits, Underground: Tom bangs on pots and pans and shouts about the Hollow World. This list's Fisher King entry.

9. Scott Walker, The Seventh Seal: Why Scott? A five-minute mariachi version of Ingmar Bergman's chess-with-the-Grim-Reaper-classic! How thoughtful of you!

10. David Bowie, Magic Dance: What? It's Dr Seuss goes fantasy! It's not just a gratuitous excuse to link to the video and to that outfit.

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