Thursday, May 16, 2013

Brand Stories: tapping into song lyrics for another kinds of storyteller

I’ve been working on a number of brand story engagements lately. And I really enjoy observing where insights emerge – and how projective techniques can help stimulate creative expression.

For me, great song lyrics often inspire ways to help tell a story.

One of my favorites is:

"I once had a girl,

or should I say, she once had me."

"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" first appeared on The Beatles’ 1965 album Rubber Soul. It is one of several songs on the album referring to an antagonistic relationship with a woman. When asked about the meaning of the lyrics, producer George Martin answered, “My wife is going to give me a hard time for saying this. It was one of John's indiscretions. I remember we were sitting at the veranda outside our hotel rooms in St. Moritz and John was playing at his guitar and working out the text. He felt that Cynthia had tricked him to marry her.” Martin referred to the words as "a very bitter little story".

The song is a lilting acoustic ballad featuring Lennon's lead vocal, signature McCartney harmonies in the middle, as well as the first use of the sitar by a rock band, of course played by George Harrison. The exotic instrumentation and oblique lyric represented one of the first indications to fans of the expanded musical storytelling and experimental approach the group was adopting.

Another of my favorite song lyrics is from Jackson Browne’s “Fountain of Sorrow.” He writes in the opening line,

“Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer,
I was taken by a photograph of you.”

In both these examples, it’s the twist of the meaning and perspective that makes the lyric so memorable.

Do you have a favorite song lyric that tells a story?

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