Musical Stories and Multimedia Storytelling

Last night I was in Tempe (Phoenix) doing my favorite kind of storytelling—Sacred Storytelling.  The occasion was the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which focuses (amongst many things) on the revelation at Mt. Sinai.  I mined my repertoire for some wonderful, applicable stories and also found some tremendously beautiful new stories.  But I also found something else to add to the storytelling—video clips, pictures, animations…  Indeed, last night was my first major adventure in live multimedia storytelling.  And it was wonderful!

To mark the occasion, I thought if fitting to share another form of multimedia storytelling, one of my favorites—the ancient tradition of stories expressed through song (and to further multiply the “multi” of this multimedia, I’ll share some such songs with you in a video format).

For some years now I’ve harbored in my heart a small collection of my favorite story songs.  While I’d been meaning to add my little gust of wind to their already full sails as they traverse the virtual and cultural oceans, it took the discovery of a stunningly gorgeous (and haunting—perhaps my favorite kind of gorgeous) story song to give me the impetus to do so.  And it is this:  a video of Sinéad O’Connor singing “She moved through the Fair.”

Now, please allow me to introduce you to the rest of these lovely jewels…

There’s a legend from the borderlands of Scotland and England about Tam Lin, a knight who was taken as a servant by the Fairy Queen, and Janet, the bold young woman who freed him.  The English folk rock band, Fairport Convention, takes this story in ballad form and does a tremendous rendition of it (though to really follow, you might want to read a prose version of the story first:

Cutting across the Atlantic, but staying to the north, there’s a Canadian legend of a mighty wood-cutter named Sandy Gray.  Slaid Cleaves, a singer songwriter from Austin, put it into a song form that I’ve adored since the day I heard it.  Here’s a video of him performing it live (and the story and lyrics should be quite clear):

Back to the Celtic world, the band Cuillin recorded this ballad of the Witch of the West Mer Lands.  It’s been such a favorite of mine that I set it as the background music to a slideshow of some storytelling pics of mine:

Finally, an old love…  Junior high English class wasn’t exactly the most mind-blowing experience, but reading Alfred Noyes’ famous poem “The Highwayman” was.  And, oh, how much more so when I heard Loreena McKennitt’s version of it!  Now, your turn:


Do you have any favorite story songs?  Let’s hear them!


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