“You can’t tell people anything, you’ve go to show ’em.” Plus other storytelling lessons from Bruce Springsteen

If you want to improve your storytelling, or simply enjoy good stories and like Bruce Springsteen, then I highly recommend Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

This isn’t ghostwritten and the stories often have a lyrical feel.

He says his album “The Ghost of Tom Joad” marked the beginning of the second half of his career. It wrestled with the question what is the work for us to do in our short time here.
This is the storytelling lesson:
The precision of the storytelling in these types of songs is very important. The correct detail can speak volumes about who your character is, while the wrong one can shred the credibility of your story. When you get the music and lyrics right, your voice disappears into the voices you’ve chosen to write about. Basically, with these songs, I find the characters and listen to them. That always leads to a series of questions about their behavior. What would they do? What would they never do? You need to locate the rhythm of their speech and the nature of their expressions. But all the telling detail in the world doesn’t matter if the song lacks an emotional center. There’s something you have to pull out of yourself from the com you feel with the man or woman you’re writing about. By pulling these elements together as well as you can, you shed light on their lives and honor their experiences.
In 1995 he gave solo acoustic concerts in support of this album, which gave him new storytelling insights:
The nakedness and tightrope drama of solo performance is a nervous revelation. It’s one man, one guitar, and “you,” the audience. What’s drawn forth is the emotional nucleus of your song. What’s revealed is the naked bones of your relationship to one another and the music. If your song was written well, it will stand in its skeleton form…I found new subtleties in my vocals, developed a high falsetto and learned to use my guitar for everything from a drum to a feedback-screeching canvas of sound. By the end of that first night, I felt I’d discovered something not as physical but as powerful as what I did the with E Street Band that spoke to my audience in a new tongue.
And this:
Most of my writing is emotionally autobiographical. I’ve learned you’ve got to pull up the things that mean something to you in order for them to mean anything to your audience. That’s where the proof is. That’s how they know you’re not kidding. (p. 267)
What is the equivalent of a solo performance in your business or career? How can you speak to your audience in a new tongue? As Bruce says, “c
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