Best Storytelling Songwriters and Teams

Billyv
This is intended to be people who wrote & recorded several songs that tell good, creative, engaging Stories (a bit more than, for example "I love you a lot"), not necessarily great works of technical musicianship or vocals, though performance and delivery do increase the quality. Looking for somewhat cohesive literal stories here, not magnificent envocation of images and emotion alone. I'm stating the list with those who immediately come to my mind with the hope that others will add many more artists and with the likelihood that I will add more, too. Initially, the exact order isn't as crucial as trying to include some of the best and most prolific, and hopefully some often overlooked artists who recieved a reasonable amount of popularity will be added.

The Top Ten

1 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, artist and writer . he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016 .

Yes, his songs have well written stories. Example- Hurricane, Like A Rolling Stone, The Times They Are Changing. - zxm

Tangled Up In Blue, Lily Rosemary and The Jack Of Hearts, Isis, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll... - Billyv

One of those who drove the genre into mainstream popularity. - Billyv

2 Paul Simon Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon is an American musician, singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel.

"Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together. I've got some real estate here in my bag. So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner's pies, and walked off to look for America."

You know how long it took me to realize those lyrics don't rhyme? It's a masterpiece. - PetSounds

Classic! Excellent choice to source a quote. This song captures so much. - Billyv

How about the haunting other worldliness of "The Only Living Boy in New York"?

3 Harry Chapin

"Oh I've got something inside me to drive the princess blind
There's a wild man wizard he's hiding in me,
Illuminating my mind..."

"Sometimes words can serve me well, and sometimes words can go to hell
For all that they do..." - Billyv

You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly
She took off to find the footlights
And I took off to find the sky

Awesome imagery...

4 Jim Croce Jim Croce

Jim's evocative words brought visions to your mind that made you smile, no matter what the source topic was...writing about his soon-to-be-born son (Time in a Bottle), Big Jim (You don't mess around with Jim), lamenting a lover that wasn't up for real love (Thursday), or reflecting like a 50 year old guy in a 29 year old guy's body (Age)...Croce's lyrics touched your soul. Few songwriters ever had this kind of talent. The music world in 1973 lost a man who would of filled our ear for years with many more beautiful songs. Cherish what he (and Maury) left for us...3 albums of priceless memories and stories.

Every word that Jim sang could be understood. His voice was incredible! Still very popular, even though he died 42 years ago! He is a legend for sure!

All I need to say is: "Time In A Bottle". Pure poetry and storytelling right there. - Britgirl

And such a cool character and persona that's consistently portrayed in his work. - Billyv

Jim tells a story in a simplistic way that still brings in the listener

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5 John Lennon John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age 40.

I love John. I'm a huge fan and appreciate his work even from as objective of a perspective as I can reach. I'd support his inclusion among the greatest songwriters ever, but he doesn't belong near the top of this list above several of the others. Few of his songs even fit this category and style of writing. Brilliant images, invoked emotion, descriptive portraits, and poignant messages are elements that can be incorporated - they can inspire imagination -but alone they do not "tell a story". - Billyv

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, I am the Walrus, Sexy Sadie, Across the Universe, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, Strawberry Fields, No Reply, I'm a Loser, Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, A Day in the Life, For the Benefit of Mr. Kite, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Dear Prudence, Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, Sun King and.. Imagine.. which tells the story, I suppose, of a shared world vision for some of us.

Yes. Lennon wrote or contributed to writing many solid songs. Many of these do not really fit a storytelling concept that seeks to differentiate from lists of songs with strong lyrics and meaningful and/or poetic imagery - there are other lists for that sort of thing. Your support would be more valid if you limited the focus. Otherwise, we may just as well have a few general lists or your own personal list of favorites. - Billyv

Always number one for me and so many others!

Cry Baby, Cry, The Ballad of John and Yoko, This Boy, Beautiful Boy.. Would vote for him hourly if I could.

I'm sure you'd vote by the minute if you could. Why not just go make and submit your own lists instead of needing to force your preferences here? - Billyv

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6 David Bowie
7 Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and humanitarian. He is known for his work with the E Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss", Springsteen is widely known for his brand of poetic lyrics, Americana, working class and sometimes political ...read more.
8 Kris Kristofferson
9 Bernie Taupin/Elton John
10 Lou Reed

The Newcomers

? George Young George Young

The Contenders

11 Leonard Cohen
12 Lennon/McCartney

I prefer this one - Ananya

13 Billy Joel Billy Joel

I love Billy Joel's Music. The song Scenes from an Italian Restaurant basically describes me and my love toward music. - Beatlesboy9

No one speaks to me like Billy!

Definitely should be top 5

14 James Taylor James Taylor James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
15 Woody Guthrie
16 Neil Young Neil Young Neil Percival Young, OC OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.
17 John Cale John Cale John Davies Cale is a Welsh musician, composer, singer, songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of the American rock band the Velvet Underground.
18 Gordon Lightfoot Gordon Lightfoot

My pleasure, Billy. I also added Billy Joel. ("Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" is a great example of his storytelling capabilities. ) Henley/Frey is a good choice as well, although I didn't add them or any others. - PetSounds

I agree Billy Joel belongs too, just didn't want to be too redundant in my comments. I was a more avid fan of his at one point but my interests drifted away somewhat. I envisioned this list as being potentially quite extensive with 10 choices to start being quite limiting. I'll probably add some more in the future. Obviously we share some strong overlaps in musical taste. Enjoy - Billyv

Thanks for adding one of my all time favorites who didn't even pop to mind when I posted the list - all the brain cylinders aren't always firing! - Billyv

It was either this man or Bob Dylan; both amazing songwriters/ storytellers but I just prefer this man's voice. - Britgirl

19 Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell
20 Phil Ochs
21 Steve Harris Steve Harris Stephen Percy "Steve" Harris is an English musician and songwriter, known as the bassist, occasional keyboardist, backing vocalist, primary songwriter and founder of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden.

Iron Maiden is famous for their storytelling lyrical style. Bruce Dickinson pulls this off beautifully, and Steve Harris writes over 90% of Maiden's songs. His lyrics perfectly match his melodies, and his storytelling transcends lyrics, he can truly create an atmosphere with his music that takes you on a journey. Hands down one of the greatest storytellers in music.

22 Chris Martin Chris Martin Christopher Anthony John "Chris" Martin is an English singer, songwriter and musician. He is best known as the lead singer of rock band Coldplay.

Overrated, and his band is a rip-off of U2, and Radiohead - RogerWatersfan1999

Love him

23 Don Henley/Glenn Frey
24 Carole King Carole King Carole King is an American composer and singer-songwriter. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the USA, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making ...read more.
25 Gustavo Cerati
26 Pete Townshend Pete Townshend Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for the rock band The Who .

The entire Tommy and Quadrophenia albums are stories - Garjen

27 Jagger/Richards
28 Jackson Browne Jackson Browne
29 Cat Stevens Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and education philanthropist.

Thanks for adding all of these, who I also enjoy and respect. - Billyv

Excellent songwriters though I'm not aware of works that I'd really feel classify some of them as storytellers, though that is somewhat subjective and I don't claim awareness of everything they've ever done - Billyv

30 Joan Baez Joan Baez
31 Adam Young Adam Young Adam Randal Young is an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for creating the synthpop/electronica project Owl City. Other important projects he has taken part of are Sky Sailing, Port Blue, Swimming With Dolphins, Seagull Orchestra and Adam Young Scores.
32 Fher Olvera
33 Burl Ives

"Come on let's crawl to the ugly bug ball. What a happy time we'll have there, one and all, at the ugly bug ball."
Quite :). - Britgirl

34 John Denver John Denver Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, starting in the 1970s.

Certainly one of my favourite - Ananya

35 Jimmy Buffett
36 George Jones
37 Chuck Berry
38 Arlo Guthrie Arlo Guthrie
39 King Diamond King Diamond Kim Bendix Petersen, better known by his stage name King Diamond, is a Danish heavy metal musician. He is known for his extensive vocal range, usually sung in falsetto. King Diamond was originally known as the vocalist for Mercyful Fate, but has become notorious for his horror themed Concept albums ...read more.
40 Roger Waters Roger Waters George Roger Waters, is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He was mostly known for the secondary lead vocals and bassist of Pink Floyd .
41 Kendrick Lamar Kendrick Lamar Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987) is an American rapper and songwriter. Raised in Compton, California, Lamar embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the stage name K-Dot, releasing a mixtape that garnered local attention and led to his signing with indie record label Top Dawg ...read more.
42 Phil Collins Phil Collins Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins is an English singer-songwriter and musician, who has also worked as a record producer and actor.
43 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Zanzibari-born British singer of Indian descent, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the British rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave ...read more.
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