Created By: Shnakepup on December 1, 2011 Last Edited By: Shnakepup on August 29, 2012

Backstory Song

An autobiographical song that tells the story of the singer's career and/or life in music

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This is a music trope when an artist sings a song that chronicles, in an autobiographical fashion, how they got their start in the music business and/or how they got to where they are today.

A musical subtrope of How We Got Here. Can overlap with Boastful Rap, especially if the song is mainly a look at the artist's past achievements. Compare Bragging Theme Tune and "I Am Great!" Song.

  • "Underground For Dummies" by Sage Francis
  • "Road To The Riches" by Atmosphere
  • "Things Go Better" by Soul Position
  • "A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre" by OutKast
  • "Creeque Alley" by The Mamas and the Papas
  • "Rock and Roll Band" by Boston
    Well, we just another band outta Boston / On the road and tryin to make ends meet...
  • Played for Laughs in the Expository Theme Tune for the Weird Al Show, which tells Al's life story and how he got his own show:
    Ooooh this is a story 'bout a guy named Al / And he lived in a sewer with his hamster pal / But the sanitation workers really didn't approve / So he packed up his accordion and had to move...
  • In the film Sister Act 2, Deloris has a Vegas act in which she does a medley of songs describing her life, and then the events of the first film.
  • OutKast has the song "A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre"
  • Loudon Wainwright III's "Career Moves"
  • Billy Joel's breakthrough hit "Piano Man" is about his early days playing piano in bars.
    • While "The Entertainer" is more about a generic pop performer ("Another serenader in another long-haired band") dealing with fame, it does deal with how Joel's career had evolved up to that time, including a reference to "Piano Man" being edited down for radio.
  • "Remember The Name" by Fort Minor

Needs More Examples!
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • December 1, 2011
    Duncan
    "Creeque Alley" by The Mamas and the Papas.
  • December 1, 2011
    Shnakepup
    Just realized that this could apply to non-rap songs that discuss the band's career via metaphor (since most first-person non-rap lyrics refer to the band themselves). HOWEVER, it's probably a good idea to only include examples like this where Word Of God confirms that it is, indeed, about the band themselves.
  • December 1, 2011
    darkapothem2000
    "Rock and Roll Band" by Boston
    "Well, we just another band outta Boston / On the road and tryin to make ends meet..."
  • December 1, 2011
    darkapothem2000
    Played For Laughs in the Weird Al Show Expository Theme Tune, which tells Al's life story and how he got his own show:
    Ooooh this is a story 'bout a guy named Al / And he lived in a sewer with his hamster pal / But the sanitation workers really didn't approve / So he packed up his accordion and had to move...
  • December 1, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Non-Rap example in Sister Act 2: wherein Deloris has a Vegas act in which she does a medley of songs describing her life, and then the events of the first film.
  • December 2, 2011
    Lyendith
    If I remember well, 25 To Life is this for Eminem... or maybe it was another one... Eminem must have at least one of these anyway.
  • December 2, 2011
    the29thtman
    Out Kast has "A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre" which mentions Andre Benjamin's career but focuses more on his personal life. Maybe it's more of a Life Recap Song instead?
  • December 2, 2011
    Shnakepup
    I mean, it doesn't have to be exclusively about the career, just as long as it's kind of a "how I got to where I am today" type story. For example, the Atmosphere track in the examples focuses on Slug's early life and his love of hip-hop; it's not until the latter half of the song before he gets in Atmosphere as a group and their success.

    I'll count the Outkast example. If someone can confirm the Eminem example I'll add it too.
  • December 2, 2011
    the29thtman
    non-rap example: Loudon Wainwright III's "Career Moves"
  • December 2, 2011
    Lyendith
    I have quite a few examples for French rap, but Kery James, Medine or Casey may make too many obscure names for English speakers...

    For Eminem, here is the aforementionned song... not sure it counts actually...
  • December 3, 2011
    TonyG
    • Billy Joel's breakthrough hit "Piano Man" is about his early days playing piano in bars.
      • While "The Entertainer" is more about a generic pop performer ("Another serenader in another long-haired band") dealing with fame, it does deal with how Joel's career had evolved up to that time, including a reference to "Piano Man" being edited down for radio.
  • December 6, 2011
    FalconPain
    "Al's Band" by Weird Al Yankovic's The Band Minus The Face (though not broken up).
  • December 7, 2011
    kenshinta
    How about Thank You For The Music by ABBA? It's more about thanking the audience for making her dream of becoming a singer come true.

    Remember The Name by Fort Minor totally works. There's actually a line about how Mike remains humble even though he's misjudged because his career is writing raps.
  • January 30, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Bump
  • February 16, 2012
    Koveras
    "American Pie" by Don Mc Lean, perhaps?
  • February 16, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Eh...not sure. That one would be borderline, since the lyrics are more poetic and vague rather than speficically referring to himself, right?
  • February 16, 2012
    animeg3282
    Fake Your Way to the Top in Dream Girls tells about James Early's career "I've faked my waaaay to the top"
  • February 16, 2012
    TonyG
    ^^American Pie is about the history of rock and roll as a whole, not about McLean's career. It evokes his personal feelings about the era, but as far as I can tell, doesn't comment on himself as a performer.
  • February 16, 2012
    Acebrock
    "High Hopes," the last song ever recorded by Pink Floyd, is said to be an autobiographical history of the band.
  • February 17, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    Fictional Examples
  • February 17, 2012
    KingZeal
    Hell, anything by Eminem. He practically built his career by filling the lyrics of his songs with glimpses of his real life and struggles. Probably the most famous example is "Lose Yourself", his best-selling single of all-time.
  • March 12, 2012
    FastEddie
    Backstory Song is more concise and doesn't sound even a little bit like dialog.
  • March 12, 2012
    peccantis
    Nummela by Anssi Kela.
  • March 12, 2012
    Alvin
    "We" by The Roches, they give their names but not their ages or phone numbers. At the end, they spell their last name. In an episode of 'Tiny Toon Adventures' (I think) they voice The Roaches, and change the last verse accordingly (I think).
  • June 19, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Bump...
  • July 13, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Bump
  • July 13, 2012
    abk0100
    "Wonderboy", Tenacious D, but with a lot of Artistic License
  • July 13, 2012
    LaZPhilosopher
    Queen's "We are the Champions" Nicki Minaj's "Autobiography" and "Dear Old Nicki"
  • July 24, 2012
    AgProv
    Mott the Hoople - Ian Hunter's band perform The Ballad of Mott The Hoople
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