Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Story songs

Posted February 9, 2009

Story songs. I love them. What is your favorite story song? Remember “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers? It was written by Durham native Don Schlitz. Can you name two other famous songs composed by Schlitz?

I heard a fascinating story song over the weekend and had a chance to ask the author all about it. Let me set the scene. It's the Celtic Adventure Weekend at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. My band played there and I served as emcee for the two day event. But the headliner band was Gaelic Storm, a high energy and highly popular band with a large and loyal fan base. You may remember Gaelic Storm from the movie Titanic.

Gaelic Storm singer, songwriter and accordionist Patrick Murphy penned a tune called “The Night I Punched Russell Crowe.” Murphy managed an Irish bar in California before joining the band. He says he encountered the Australian actor late one night when Crowe lit a cigarette in the bar. Since smoking was in violation of California law Murphy informed Crowe he would have to snuff out the cigarette or leave. Murphy claims Crowe became confrontational and invited Murphy “to give me your best shot.” Feeling threatened by the strapping actor and “three burly bodyguards,” the wiry and witty Irishman landed a punch on Crowe’s nose drawing blood. He then made a wise decision as Crowe looked on in disbelief. “I ran as fast and as far as I could. True story!”

Murphy has not seen Russell Crowe since except in the movies. Murphy calls Crowe a brilliant actor but highly egotistical and arrogant. So far, no reaction from the Aussie actor to the song but a publicist insists the bar incident never happened.

What is your favorite story song? Can you top the Russell Crowe song?


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  • racinjunki Feb 10, 2009

    I can't believe no one has posted Alice's Restaurant yet. Why it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without hearing it.

  • cornfused Feb 10, 2009

    I also like "Three Wooden Crosses" and another song performed by Randy Travis about seeing an angel when he looks in his mother's eyes. My son played that song for me for the first time, but I cannot remember the exact title. I have it on a CD.

  • khoggard Feb 10, 2009

    I think about Martina McBride's "Independence Day" & Tracy Bryd's "Keeper of the Stars." That one was sung at our wedding & fits my husband & I perfectly.

  • ECU4lyf Feb 10, 2009

    all of you mentioned the great ones, Tom T Hall, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, I like all of them, I also like Mike Cross, the songs he does about The Bounty Hunter and The Liquor in The Well tell great stories

  • blytle Feb 10, 2009

    Eyesblue: Yes, you're right! Thank you.

  • ChathamNC Feb 9, 2009

    While the Dixie Chicks aren't the most popular country band anymore, they did write sing the song "Earl." It's a story about a woman who out revenge on her evil husband, Earl. Her best friend came back home to help her carry the plan out of poisoning his supper because..."Earl had to die." When the song was released, there was some flack about how humorous the take was of murdering a spouse.

  • lseltmann Feb 9, 2009

    Wild World by Cat Stevens and Lola by the Kinks

  • thinknc Feb 9, 2009

    I've seen several favorites in earlier posts, and will add another-- "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Whether considered a tribute or a story, it's a beautiful song. And my son shared Nickel Creek's "The Lighthouse's Tale" with me a while back, and it's become a favorite.

  • jdlewis76 Feb 9, 2009

    eyesblue, I can't believe I forgot about "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." You're right, it is one of the best.

  • eyesblue Feb 9, 2009

    Mdoodle....are you thinking about Jim Croce's "Operator" ?




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Bill Leslie