Top 10 “Story Songs” # 10 Tom Waits (Phantom 309)

By Dale Nickey:

Click for other story songs>>>>>> 10  9  8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 

The story song is the toughest gig in songwriting. The song lyric format is tailor-made for the cut and paste Felliniesque’ imagery of a Dylan; or the run and gun pop couplets of The Beatles and  The Beach Boys.  However, constructing a story with a beginning, middle and satisfying ending; with rich characters and a good tune in the span of a few minutes? YOU try it. I have yet to succeed. I’ve written a wedding song and a Christmas Song. Both forms are childs play compared to the story song. Here are some of the best…..

Number 10….. (Phantom 309)

Phantom 309 is a song written by Tommy Faile and released as a single by Red Sovine in 1967. Definitive version by Tom Waits (1995).

Ice Road Truckers meets The Twilight Zone. A great story song suitable for paranormal geeks and Nascar goons alike. Me, I like Tom Waits version of the song. You can imagine Waits’ scruffy persona slumped at the counter of an all night truck stop at about 3:00 a.m., Chesterfield King in one hand, cup of hot, black  joe in the other, slowly spinning this yarn about a poor clueless hitchhiker picked up by a benevolent ghost trucker. Plotline is so universal and durable, it was tweaked and borrowed for a subplot in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”. Remember Large Marge?

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