Telling Stories Through Song

Packed Crowd in San Jose I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about this Saturday’s show at FWA. I’ve never used an entire concert to tell one story before. Usually I just sort of shoot the shit between songs, making corny jokes and employing every attention getting device in my arsenal. Usually I leave the storytelling to the songs:

  • Jesse: An analogue of the Gospels
  • Sally Went Down: Girl gets run over by train
  • Raindrops & Grease Spots: Being stuck in a coffee shop during a rainstorm
  • Latté Days & Porter Nights: Leaving the Christian Music business
  • A Cautionary Tail: Mice driving a man insane
  • Downtown: Girl (mark II) gets disillusioned by the Big City™
  • The Ballad of Jamey and Shawn: Sane scientist is turned on by his mad colleagues
  • Concussion: Say stupid things in a bar, get punched in the face

…and so on.

Short-format, though, is usually easier than long-format storytelling. Even a mediocre story can keep an audience’s interest for three to five minutes, but I’ll be telling a condensed version of The Lives of Dexter Peterson for over an hour. Like most of my on-stage experiments, this could either be a riveting success (Goodbye Planet Earth LIVE at FC) or a dismal failure (using backing tracks for solo gigs).

One unexpected bonus, however, has been that I encountered some great ideas while condensing the story to bullet points. Officially, I’m not even done writing this story yet, so it’s still open to change. While standing behind my keyboard working up the outline for the FWA show, several new twists presented themselves.

Yes, I’ve written them down. That’s important.

Later, after this FWA show either fails or flies, I’ll be incorporating these new elements into the story for publication. So, in a way, I suppose the live storytelling idea has already paid off in the best way: The story itself has become much, much better because of the process of adapting it. In the end, that’s what’s really important, isn’t it? Telling a better story is ultimately the goal.

So bring on the audience, I’ll see you in Atlanta.

  • You were great when I saw you. Maybe slip something in impromptu here and there if that is more your way.

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