The Top Songs Based on Real Events
Sleeping Sun by Nightwish
On August 11, 1999 the skies of Europe were treated to a magnificent solar eclipse; a rare instance where during the day the light of the sun is temporarily overshadowed by the moon. By October of the same year, Toumas Holopaien had finalized lyrics and a melody with his Finnish band, Nightwish, creating one of their most beautiful and memorable songs commemorating the event itself in poetry and music.
Pompeii by Bastille
The violent gas erruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the city of Herculaneum, but somehow managed to preserve almost perfectly the city of Pompeii including victims that died in the blast. The extremely popular light rock song by Bastille with a powerful male chorus in the background sounds as if the band is singing alongside the ghosts of those caught in the pyroclastic death trap.
Europa by Globus
Rather than one event, this song details the history of Europe in naming wars with countless victims and bloodshed while asserting that this is what shaped and formed Europe in the first place and will continue to do so. With a symphony accompanying the rock group and choir begging God to watch over the soldiers in battle and give them victory as a motto, the song ends with a powerful nod to the motto left after the use of nuclear weaponry during Europe's most devastating war to date: World War II, by singing, shouting, and having the chorus shout the words 'Never Again!'.
Rose Red by Emilie Autumn
While the song has been said to be about the darker side of the stories surrounding Snow White's sister, Rose Red, many of the lyrics and even melody format are also direct allusions to The War of the Roses and seem to detail the tragic choices and life of a young woman caught in the middle of the feud in nobility.
Evacuee by Enya
World War II was easily the most heinous and tragic event in human history and gave birth to easily Enya's most tear-jerking piece. I canot hear even the opening to this song without crying. The lyrics describe in somber tones the thoughts and feelings of a young girl as she is evacuated from London during the evacuation of children to avoid bombs during the Blitz Krieg.
Maid of Orleans by Dark Moor
Who else could be described by the term 'Maid of Orleans'? The one and only alleged religious messenger, war hero and leader, and eventual martyr/saint Joan of Arc. While the song is done by the hard rock Spanish metal band Dark Moor, the tragedy of Joan's life and death and legacy are palpable.
Fernando by ABBA (American Version)
When Americans think of independene we think of July 4th, defeating the British, and patriotism for the red, white and blue. Different images come to the minds of Mexican citizens who boldly fought the Spanish with a victory on the 5th of May. While the song 'Fernando' was written originally in Swedish and is a song of comfort for a man named Fernando who has lost his love, the re-write for America took a different turn when the group's writers said the song had a more Hispanic feel to it. The song describes two lovers who were caught in a battle during the revolution and that the man was forced to take up arms. Luckily the song implies both survived, but details the fear, pride, and love both had that night.
My My Time Flies! by Enya
From the moon landing and Isaac Newton's gravity discovery to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, the Beatles on Abbey Road, and all the way to Elvis as the King of Rock and Roll, Enya's piece is not only a great song for New Year's Eve with its message of looking towards the future, but it is also a great song about comparing music history to the history of science and study of the stars. This upbeat and light rock song has amazing internal rhyme and melody.
All Soul's Night by Loreena McKennitt
Before trick or treating and store-bought costumes, the ancient world took the opportunity on October 30th through November 1st to celebrate the New Year beginning and the old year ending. The night of the 31st, or All Soul's Night, was seen as being in neither year and therefore a day where all the realms in existence had no boundaries, so the souls of the dead could walk among the living and vice versa. Loreena McKennit's excellent rhythm harkening back to Pagan drums accompanies an amazing melody with lyrics detailing some of the finest and oldest traditions of the Celtic world including the holly branch, the bonfires, the stacks of corn and wheat, and of course dancing!
Another interesting song that more hard-rock or darker fans will appreciate with this theme is Samhain by goth rock group Inkubus Sukkubus which is fitting because the original name of the holiday itself was, in fact, Samhain!
The Angry American by Toby Keith
Shortly after the atrocious terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 there was an influx of patriotic songs particularly among the country genre. Toby Keith's 'Angry American' not only talks about the attacks, but also America's reaction in creating a most wanted list, the metaphor of New York's fury through the imagery of the Statue of Liberty, and plenty of threats for the enemy. While the song also begins with Toby describing his father's real service to his country, his losses, and finally his thoughts on the attacks and the aftermath. Of all the patriotic tunes that came from the incident, this is the most powerful and light-hearted given the humorous threats and powerful ringing of bells in the background of the chorus to signify the Liberty Bell.
History and music are both written to enrich the generation at hand and following. When the two are combined, powerful and beautiful pieces emerge from the artists that create them!