Hello and welcome to the The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.
This week we're talking about Ideas & execution.
How many times have you read book cover or movie synopsis and said “That sounds great!" Then it let you down. Don’t blame the marketing, blame the execution. If the synopsis is intriguing enough then the idea is probably sound. It just didn't translate to film.
I was trying to write about the recent super hero movies and Stephen King adaptations but I’m going to focus on one single song.
The Coward Of The County by Kenny Rogers. In January of 1980 this song was #1 on the country charts and #3 on the pop charts. It’s a well constructed song. It has a singable chorus and couple key changes at dramatic points and the instrumentation is pretty simple so Kenny’s gruff but friendly voice can clearly tell the story.
And oh that story. It’s a wonderfully crafted tale that tells an entire tale of promises to a father, love for a girl, rape, revenge and coming to terms with living your own life rather than living in the shadow of parent’s life.
I’ve put a link to the song in the show notes so if you head to TheSparkAndTheArt.com/112 you can listen to the song now.
Listen for the dramatic turn where you can almost hear a pin-drop when Tommy stops and locks the door.
I’ll wait. [Hums Coward of the County]
This song leaves a lot to the imagination. What were the things that Tommy’s dad did? Was Tommy scrawny or was he a gentle giant? Was this set in the old west? The ‘50s? The future? How beat up was Becky after the Gatlin boys took turns at her? The listener gets to make all of that up.
Hey Tucker. What um. What does this have to do with today’s topic?
Sorry, well you see they made a movie out of the song. The song that was such a smash hit. The story that was so compelling. They fleshed it all out and gave people back stories. They explained what happened to Tommy’s father. They showed you what Tommy looked like.
So now on to the big dramatic part of the song/movie. Tommy has to make the decision to live his own life or keep his promise to his father. Now, when I listen to the song Tommy is in back closing up the bar and Becky is waiting out front on a bar stool. She probably has the Juke Box going. When Tommy comes out from the back room the Gatlin boys are buckling up their pants in an empty bar with Becky in the corner. The juke box is still playing probably something soaring and melodramatic like Crying by Roy Orbison. Tommy sees Becky’s face and walks passed the three brothers towards the door - his eyes to the floor.
“Hey look old yella is leaving’” now you can probably hear a pin drop as Tommy stops and locks the door.
That’s the song.
Now in the movie. And you have find a link to the movie as well. It’s on youtube and I’ve made the link start at the barroom scene. So in the movie the bar is full. The Gatlin boys are overacted assholes and Tommy runs to the front door and slams the deadbolt and there is a giant bar brawl with crazy swing music playing in the background. Tommy’s supposed to leave none of the brothers standing but Kenny Rogers’ preacher character saves Tommy by smashing two of the Gatlin boys heads together like Andre the Giant taking down The Road Warriors at a Wrestlemania event.
As far as I’m concerned the story is great. It’s Shakespearean in scope. The song is great and tells the story in a tight four minutes and doesn’t feel like it’s dragging. Great Story, Great Execution.
The movie on the other hand is an ‘80s TV movie and I feel like I’ve explained where I think the execution fell down but it’s probably someone’s favourite movie and they hate the song. What do I know I’m just some loudmouth with a podcast.
This is a really weird thing to rant about as a grown man considering all of this happened when I was about 8 years old and I had not concept of what rape was and have built up this bar room scene in my head over time. And for someone this may well be the first time you’re hearing about either the song or the movie. And It’s not like this is one of my favourite songs. It’s just a great song. And it’s far from the worst movie I’ve ever seen that honour goes to Tiptoes where Gary Oldman plays a little person and Matthew McConaughey has a silent snot dripping crying scene for a reason I can’t remember.
So here’s the point - You may be working on something right now and you feel super strongly about it. You’re proud of the idea. You’re excited by the idea but for some reason you can’t quite get others on board. You can’t quite get other people to see in your project what you do.
Maybe it’s not the idea. Maybe it’s the execution. Are you having trouble getting people to read a blog? Try a podcast. I did. Are you having trouble getting people to read all the way through your movie script? Try it as a short story. Don’t plan a feature film Plan a short film or better yet a trailer. Maybe your giant graphic novel is actually a serial. Perhaps your short story is actually a kids book. If you believe in the idea maybe you just need to find the right execution.
Did you enjoy today’s rant about a 36 year old song and movie? Do you think there is someone else who may enjoy it? I’d love it if you shared it with them. The easiest way is to send them the Short url TheSparkAndTheArt.com/112 The most difficult way is to transcribe the episode by using the trimmings from your last haircut to create the letter shapes.
You can get me on Twitter @sparkartpodcast and that's a great places to tell me what you thought of the Coward Of The County.
I think this episode may suffer from it’s own version of idea vs execution.
Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.
- Links for this episode -
Coward of the county: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEJniCCuqR4
The Bar Room Scene: https://youtu.be/dwZHTf9midA?t=1h22m44s
Crying - Roy Orbison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNdBLBleO90