Beauty In Ballads

Ok, so I have two big ways of expressing myself. Music and poetry. Most of you who stop here regularly have already figured that out. Thanks for stopping and commenting, by the way…your welcome has been amazingly warm and I’m beginning to feel right at home.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that I’ve decided to look into ballads a little bit. First, I’m a sucker for a slow song, but more importantly, I love songs that tell stories. In fact, I remember being in 4th or 5th grade when our music teacher told us about ballads. Oddly enough, we were also learning about ballads in English class. She told us that ballads were songs that told a story. Today I decided to look up the definition. This is what I found.

Ballad:

1.
narrative song: a song or poem, especially a traditional one or one in a traditional style, telling a story in a number of short regular stanzas, often with a refrain

“The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde”
2.
slow romantic song: a slow romantic popular song

“two up-tempo numbers followed by a ballad”
Definition #2 is what most of us know ballads to be these days, right? A slow song that allows you the opportunity to get all close and cozy with the one you’re with…also one of the only songs almost any man is comfortable dancing to because he doesn’t have to do more than hang on and sway. (No, not all men…there are a few out there who can really dazzle a woman or man with his footwork..but generally speaking I’ve found this to be the case.)
Now the first ballad poem I remember reading was Casey At The Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. I really liked it! Between poems like this and my ties to music, me writing poetry was practically a given.
The first musical ballad I remember learning to sing was…and don’t laugh…Don’t Fence Me In. My music teacher at the time was in her 70’s, so I’m guessing she learned it being sung by guys like Gene Autrey or Roy Rodgers. Me, I prefer Ella…Love her voice!
Anyone have any idea what a cayuse is? I don’t…but I still like the song. Go figure.
There’s something about the story you can picture in your mind when you hear a ballad the way it was defined to me as a child. Take The Gambler by Kenny Rogers…people love it because they can see the story unfold! Oddly enough, that’s not my favorite Kenny ballad, though he’s done many, including songs like Lucille, Reuben James & Long Arm Of The Law. I’m a sucker for heroes, which may explain why this one is my favorite…which is saying something because Kenny has done a ton of amazing ballads. (BTW, this one has the Supernatural hotties in it)
If I consider Kenny to be the reigning king of ballads, and I do, Reba would have to be the queen. With songs like Bobby, Is There Life Out There and The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, how could I not? She’s not only a vocal powerhouse, but she made those songs huge hits! Of course, Fancy is my all time favorite one. The story blew me away and left me in tears…proud for the woman she became, sad for the things she had to go through to get there.
There’s something about a ballad that draws me in and touches my soul. Not only do they tell a story, but usually, if you listen hard enough, there’s a message. Now I know there are more ballads than just in country music, but these are the ones that stand out to me. I love music, and especially discovering new ones, so if you have some ballads that you’d like to share or any of these songs touched you in any way, please share! I’d love to hear them and from you. I’ll leave you with a few more that are guaranteed to touch the heart strings….Such amazing poetry and artistry. Is it any wonder I’m fascinated with ballads?
Tragic and destructive…filled with regret.
The video says it all!
This is committment!
And this is how I feel about my guy…:-)
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20 thoughts on “Beauty In Ballads

  1. Emma says:

    I got distracted by the Supernatural video.
    I love “Love Me”, such a sad and poignant song.
    I’m not sure if it’s a ballad but it definitely tells a story. Meat Loaf’s “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than they Are”. Epic song.

  2. Mae Clair says:

    Ballad songs.WOW!

    Well, Kitt, you just struck a major chord for me because I believe ballad songs go back to the days of minstrels and I am such a sucker for heroic and romantic ballads. If I could have lived in another life I think I would have been a groupie for a minstrel.

    Interesting that you mentioned The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia. I’m showing my age, but when I was a kid that song was first made popular by Vicki Lawrence. I killed the 45rpm. I didn’t even realize that Reba had recorded it. I still listen to the rendition by Vicki (I’ve got lots of old songs bought off Amazon).

    Want to hear a really cool, soulful ballad? Listen to Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry. Not only is it brillant, but you’ll leave feeling you lived every moment of it, right down to the gritty dust of the delta. Brillant song, brillant singer, brillant lyrics. There are even debates about what the song was really about.

    And yeah. I got that one on mpg3 too 🙂

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I’ve actually heard the original version. It is very good! I think the reason the Reba one is so powerful is because now there are music videos where they can also tell the story through acting. I think she tells a pretty good story in her video. So tragic. I love old songs…I’m sure you probably picked up on that with my Ella song on this post. I will definitely be checking your Bobbie Gentry song. For some reason I get the feeling I saw it.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I meant to tell you last night, the image of you as a minstrel groupie had me giggling. The funny thing is, though, I’ve always had a sentimental side for the bards & minstrels, too.

  3. L.J. Kentowski says:

    I love all of these! I think country has an amazing amount of awesome ballads. Might I mention Miranda Lambert’s Over You is a fave of mine. Such a great story that hits a chord. Great post!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Country songs are the best for stories. I have always loved the tone of Alison Krauss’ voice. She is one of my all time favorite vocalists. “Fancy” is a great tune too. The story is so powerful. Enjoyed hearing a few new ones too!

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thank you. Love, Me is an all time favorite of mine. I even sang it at a church Valentine’s Day banquet in my youth. As for the first one, if you’re referring to Don’t Fence Me In…yeah, it’s a bit on the cheesy side, but I do love Ella Fitzgerald’s voice. 🙂

  5. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches. says:

    Kitt – I’m going to shamlessly date myself with my favorite ballads. Before I get started, I love the way you put your blog together with the music for us to listen to. I’m behind the grade in knowing how to import them into my blog.
    I’m trying to make sure my favoties all meet the criteria for ballad status, as in tell a story: After The Loving by Englebert Humperdink, I Just Called To Say I Love you – Stevie Wonder, Strangers In The Night – Frank Sinatra, For The First Time – Rod Stewart, Slow Dancing With A Memory – Daryl Worley, There’s A Small Hotel – Michael Feinstein, Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson, Dance Me To The End of Love – Leonard Cohen, I Miss My Friend – Darryl Worley, Our Last Summer – Paul Clarkson, The Second Time Around – Michael Bolton and Nicole Sheridan, and last by not least – my these song for being a professional woman – Going Out Tonight – Mary Chapin Carpenter. There’s so many great song – I could go forever. Like books — I’m never without music.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Please, there’s no dating yourself with music! You noticed I threw down some Ella… By the way, I think of you when I pick my music and I hope that you’re gonna get a kick out of my selections or find something new you enjoy. Love all your selections, by the way. Mary Chapin Carpenter is an all time favorite mine, too. Thanks, Sheri!

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