Song of the Day #5,035: ‘Storytelling’ – Belle and Sebastian

It’s a rare Random Weekend twofer, with Belle and Sebastian making an encore appearance.

The selections line up chronologically as well. Yesterday’s song came from a 2001 single, while today’s SOTD appears on the band’s next project, the soundtrack to the 2002 Todd Solondz film Storytelling.

The band and director didn’t work well together, and only six minutes of their music wound up in the finished film.

I don’t believe this title track is among those six minutes, but it’s one of the only worthwhile cuts on the soundtrack (which mostly consists of instrumental work and snippets of dialogue). It’s a jaunty exploration of the responsibility of the writer in the storytelling process.

Picture a scene in your mind
Look at all the people and take note of the setting behind
Listen, watch and wait
A plot begins to take shape
There’s a story and then characters will come to you
Relating events as they choose to
But all their words and actions come entirely from you

If you’re a storyteller you might think you’re without responsibility
And you can lead your characters anywhere you want
You have immunity

Have you considered the way
People might react to all the things that your characters say?
And are their actions hand in hand with what you want to portray?
Are you sick? Are you crippled? Insane?
Expressing the desires that daren’t speak their name?
Are you the one to be blamed?

Now you’re a storyteller you might think you are without responsibility
But in directions, actions and words cause and effect
You need consistency

How can you finish the tale?
Lives which have played a part
Are summarised from the very start
And episodes left out to make it all go your way
“It’s a mighty big world
Some of it I’ve seen
But mostly I’ve only heard
And stories are all fiction from their moment of birth”

You’re just a storyteller
You’re not trying to escape responsibility
If we believe you then you’re successful
But you don’t make claims of verity

You’re just a storyteller
You’re not trying to escape responsibility
If we believe you then you’re successful
But you don’t make claims of verity

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,035: ‘Storytelling’ – Belle and Sebastian

  1. Joey Jones says:

    At one time I listened to a lot of Belle and Sebastian. I still have about half their albums on CD somewhere. This one managed to pass me by.

    It’s fitting that Stuart Murdoch comes in on the verse:

    “Are you sick? Are you crippled? Insane?
    Expressing the desires that daren’t speak their name?”

    The typical construction of a Belle & Sebastian song is to include some lyrical element which expresses darker negative feelings and situations regardless of however musically twee any given song is. I’m struggling to think of any of their songs that doesn’t do this.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    Dark lyrics in a jaunty musical package.

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