Rocks Off's Top 10 Favorite Story-Songs

The Internet wants to kill Gordon Lightfoot - back in February, someone started a rumor that the Canadian troubadour was dead. Of course it started on Twitter, of all places, where an offhand remark about a celebrity death will be held as fact. Hell, the other night we killed Tim Allen and Tom Skerritt in 140 characters.

Still strumming and singing at the age of 71, Lightfoot is best known for his bittersweet songs of loss and regret, like "If You Could Read My Mind," "Carefree Highway" and "Sundown." He's also quite the storyteller, writing "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" about the 1975 sinking of an American freighter.

Sadly, story-songs aren't as en vogue as they used to be, unless you count the Decemberists and The Hold Steady. Telling a tale over three or four minutes is a lost art. When it works it works, but these days they are harder to come by. They are mostly found on pop-country radio now. Taylor Swift's "Fifteen" is a good example; not that we have ever sung it alone in the car or anything. Screw off.

Here are Rocks Off's ten favorite story-songs, including a newer cut from Justin Townes Earle about a guy jumping out of a building in his father's suit. And if the Garth Brooks song about seeing his old high school girlfriend doesn't melt your heart, you are a robot.

1. Don Mclean, "American Pie"

2. Harry Chapin, "Cats In The Cradle"

3. Justin Townes Earle, "Yuma"

4. Garth Brooks, "Unanswered Prayers"

5. Elvis Presley, "In The Ghetto"

6. Marty Robbins, "El Paso"

7. Bobbie Gentry, "Ode To Billy Joe"

8. Bob Dylan, "Hurricane"

9. Eminem, "Stan"

10. The Who, "A Quick One While He's Away"

Gordon Lightfoot: 8 p.m. tonight at Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas (Bayou Place), 713-230-1600 or www.livenation.com.

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