Sing Me a Story
This story started as a narrower concept, but eventually expanded into something larger. I knew it was a solid idea but I became a lot more excited when I allowed myself more latitude.
Each of these songs is story-based. Because this is me, the musical net is cast wide. Some of the stories are complicated and nuanced. Others are essentially elevated boy-meets-girl.
As I crafted this mixtape, I realized that I’m not really into story-based songs. I have a handful of favorites, but I probably gravitate more to the overall vibe/musicality of songs. But it was fun to try out a theme I would never usually draw from.
As always: obscure finds, big names, famous songs, and unexpected picks.
Initially, I dismissed the entire alt 80s as a genre for this theme. I mean, alternative 80s music is so great, but it’s rarely story-based.
I landed on “1963,” though, and knew I had the perfect contribution to my latest mixtape. (Heck, “Love Vigilantes” would have been a fantastic pick, too.)
Johnny, murder, and a January birthday against the pulsing synths and drums of New Order. There’s something very special and memorable about this song. A highlight of their masterpiece Substance.
From my favorite album of 1991 (one of the very best years of rock ’n roll), Lloyd Cole’s sexy, searing “Half of Everything.”
It might be the most abstract of today’s stories. But Mr. Cole’s tale of the demise of his marriage has a universality to it: lying, cheating, pain, disgust, and dismissiveness. Aside from Sade, I’m not sure that anyone else could make betrayal sound so seductive.
About midway, he warns his ex’s new paramour. Then the music abruptly shifts to something prettier and more hopeful. The final message is clear: Lloyd Cole is so over her.
Oh, my stars in heaven! New goal: to find someone that looks at me the way Johnny Cash does at Roy Orbison! #adorbs #relationshipgoals
She doesn’t have a name other than “pretty woman,” but she’s one of the most famous women of the 20th century (and beyond).
It’s inspired songwriting. We care about both of them! And we’re thrilled for him when she turns around.
An iconic song performed by two music legends. Johnny Cash’s deference to Roy Orbison is telling. This obscure live performance of mega-hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” is as enchanting as you hope it will be!
This is a first since I started Bonnie’s Mixed Tape in late 2017: I absolutely CACKLED throughout this performance. Seriously. I’ve listened to it 20 times and laugh every time! This unlikely duet is sheer glee and delight!
Dinah Shore looks luscious in her green halter dress and Pearl Bailey’s simple black gown with its sweetheart neckline is stunning.
But the real star is Pearl herself. She steals every second she is on screen. She is a hoot! In fact, she reminds me a bit of the female version of Louis B. Armstrong. It wouldn’t surprise me if Queen Latifah is a fan of Peal Bailey. I see some similarities in their style.
Mafia-inspired “Mack the Knife” has been done a gazillion times but I’m so glad I persevered to stumble upon this version. Not to be missed!
“Coward of the County” edges out “The Gambler” for me. But I won’t fault you if you prefer the latter.
Maybe it’s because I’m a chick and instinctively flinch thinking about Becky. Or because I’m hard-wired to root for the underdog.
“But you could have heard a pin-drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door”
Hell, I’ve heard this song approximately 2,428 times and I still cheer Tommy on every. single. time.
That’s a testament to the magic of the lyrics as delivered by Kenny Rogers’ weary, knowing vocal. Songwriters Roger Bowling and Billy Ed Wheeler weave a masterful tale of just 4 minutes that still resonates with the masses. An iconic American song.
It’s an honor to include Jerry Jeff Walker today. I’d never heard of Mr. Walker till I moved to Austin for grad school. Pretty quickly I ended up with his greatest hits and was charmed by his good nature. He always reminded me of the Texan Jimmy Buffet.
“Mr. Bojangles” is unfailingly scrappy and endearing. This live cut is quite the treat! Don’t miss the intro, which includes a throw-away comment about the origins of this early ’70s hit.
Talented, a unique voice and perspective, bawdy, humble, and a heckuva songwriter. RIP, Jerry Jeff!
When pondering my latest mixtape, I landed immediately on Bob Dylan. I don’t feature his music very often here in BMTland, so I’m delighted to incorporate him today.
New Rising Sun’s cover of “Hurricane” may be a bit less biting than Dylan’s original, but that’s a quibble. It’s excellent in every other way.
The first version I found was an outside performance. It was good, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something better. I clicked on this AB Sessions’ indoor version and knew this was my winner.
The crowded set lends itself to a deeper sound and more claustrophobic vibe, which better matches the song musically and lyrically.
Until her 40’s, Bonnie’s worst nightmare included writing and sharing personal stories publicly. At her friends’ suggestion, she bemusedly started Bonnie’s Mixed Tape on Medium in 2017. She remains shocked that anyone reads her stories and that P.S. I Love You, Assemblage, the Writing Cooperative, and the Ascent have published her work.
Bonnie loves all types of music, but really, really, really loves the 80s.
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. you using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!