Monday, March 4, 2013

The Story by Brandi Carlile

Sometimes you find a song that expresses so accurately the way that you view the world that it feels like that you’ve known it your entire life.



When I first heard “The Story,” I was astounded. This is one of those instances in music where the parts individually are not that remarkable but when they are put together the create something unforgettable.

“The Story” is repetitive. There is one phrase that is repeated over and over with no bridge or chorus. The chords are unremarkable and go exactly where you expect them. The lyrics are insightful, but simple and outside of the context of the song may seem kind of trite.

The melody is perhaps the most interesting piece of the song. The first phrase rises up and down and then following phrases start on a high note and trickle down. This creates a sighing effect. It starts lower after a couple descending and gentle rises and falls before finally settling. Many people complain that modern pop songs don’t have artfully contoured melodies and “The Story” is an example of a truly amazing “Yesterday"- like melody.

The there’s Brandi Carlile’s voice. She’s in her early thirties, but the way she sings makes you feel like that she has lived lifetimes. She plays with the break in her voice between her head voice and chest voice like Sarah MaLachlan to a wonderful effect. It’s both mournful and triumphant expressing a feeling of being tired but also never giving up.

When you put these pieces together “The Story,” tells a remarkable tale of what it means to be a human being. The lines on our face, that come not only from tears but from laughter all create stories and like everything in life they do not mean anything if you have no one to share them with.

She sings about the stories, the places she’s been, the rule’s she has broken and how she did it all for her love because of the way that person made her feel. Then she breaks free of illusions, admitting that her head is a mess. It is in this moment, the time when she is at her most vulnerable that she realizes how much love she holds for this other person because they know her like nobody else does.

What makes our stories meaningful is what makes our lives worth living. We tell them to each other so that we can understand one another to create a more significant and lasting connection. These stories are happy, they are sad and sometimes they are painful, but they need to be told for us to find our way in this world.

You can hear every different kind of story in this song. The melody never changes, but the feelings do and like life itself, it's a truly amazing journey.

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