Sometimes songs inspire a strong image or a sense of narrative. It might be through their lyrics, but often there are songs with no words at all which can have just as strong an effect as those that do have words. I’ve included four examples I love below.
It’s not strictly necessary that the songs have no vocals, just that there are no discernible lyrics. Desert Search for Techno Allah (what a great title!) does actually have words, so perhaps a bit of a cheat, but I’d be impressed if you could tell what they are without looking them up.
When I hear a song without lyrics, I like to imagine what the story might be, and I have written short stories this way before. For me, the songs below conjure not only strong emotions, but also images and stories. Interestingly, sometimes the title of the song will influence what comes to mind. For example, as you’ll see below, for the song Desert Search for Techno Allah I not so surprisingly think of a desert scene. And for Arco Arena, I think of fighting/a contest, probably because of the word “arena”.
Try imagining your own scenes or stories for the music. If you don’t want to be influenced by my impressions, try click on the You Tube links without stopping to read the text below. You can also find your own songs for this exercise.
The Gallery by Muse
I imagine space. Someone staring out of a spaceship window at the wonders passing them by, feeling detached and melancholic.
The Gallery from the album Hullabaloo by Muse
Coffee in the Pot by Supergrass
Middle-aged men, friends in a tropical place wearing sunglasses and floppy hats having a wonderfully silly day together. Maybe they are cooking breakfast and it’s not going too well, but none of them care because the mood is too good.
Artist: Supergrass Album: Road To Rouen Year: 2005 Tracks; 1.) Tales Of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6) 2.) St. Petersburg 3.) Sad Girl 4.) Roxy 5.) Coffee In The Pot 6.) Road To Rouen 7.) Kick In The Teeth 8.) Low C 9.) Fin
Arco Arena by Cake
Two warriors in ornate costumes on a mountaintop, performing a ceremony where they pretend to fight. Doing somersaults, twirling their halberds around and swiping at each other, but never making contact. It’s about grace more than aggression.
“Arco Arena” of the CAKE album Comfort Eagle.
Desert Search for Techno Allah
A big race in the desert to catch small, fast robot at the front. Like Mad Max, except instead of cars, everyone is on weird, rickety alien camels.
Over the course of three albums for Warner Brothers in the 1990s, Mr. Bungle created music that defied description. Borrowing from avant-garde jazz, ska, metal, and pop, the Northern California band intrigued critics and created a large cult following.