Most intriguing and intelligent executives have a secret source of ‘go-to’ information they have flagged and plug into occasionally or when needed. People often ask many industry leaders across many different sectors to tell me how and where they attain the most informative and actionable information both personally and professionally. They most often respond by explaining that there are a few highly treasured voices they read on a regular schedule and these sources cover a small realm of topics focused on a specific core industry.
In 1987 when the Ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney reached out to Elvis Costello through his agent and solicited him for a joint song-writing work session and hopefully some usable product, songs. The test of mixing two unknown genius talents together was a flurry of twelve songs which appeared on a number of Paul and Elvis albums throughout the next decade. The meet-up was truly unique since it brought virtual strangers together to break a dry deadlock for both creators. Paul had been stuck for more that five years and felt out of ideas. Elvis had written some decent commercial successes but had not matched the meteoric heights of his genre debut of 1977. Both creators needed to break their own personal log jam. The music media and the respective A/R people agreed that this would be a force unmet in history or it would fail miserably.
Paul arrived to the meeting with a song he had almost already finished, “Back on my feet”. Elvis patiently listened to Paul’s struggle while helping him with this ironic tune. He clearly was not back on his feet. Elvis helped polish the song and it became a relatively successful B-side of one of McCartney’s 1988 releases.
Elvis listened for the next several days to what his boyhood idol had going and took studious notes. “Boyhood idol” hits closer to home for Elvis. Paul grew up at 20 Forthlin Road – a short bus drive from Elvis’ childhood haunts in Merseyside. Elvis grew up Declan MacManus, the son of a big band singer and was well versed with Paul and his Beatle years.
Once Paul had completed his creative diatribe on where he was at. He turned to Elvis and spryly asked, “So mate, what you got?”
Elvis slid up in his chair and reached over the couch to retrieve an old 1970s style military green duffle bag with ‘D. MacManus’ stenciled on its side. He undid the odd looking vault. Inside was an incredible collection of what resembled trash. A myriad of napkins, paper wads, and yellow legal pad pieces filled with doodles and scrawls from what seemed endless brainstorming sessions at the local tavern. There were so many jewels stuffed with ideas and thoughts that it seemed no one could make sense of the pile of garbage. Elvis, on the contrary, navigated the container like it was his personal filing cabinet. He pulled specific shards from the bag while describing each with their meaning and what its importance was. Right down to the exact moment that lightning had struck.
From this point forward, the meeting was distilled into a more traditional song writing work session. Paul became a dedicated to his own ninja-like skill of lyricist while Elvis was comfortable focusing on his melody making and musical craftsmanship. What the bag of ideas did was remove the importance and credibility of the participants and let the genius bubble to the top. So many times the truly ingenious are handcuffed by the thought that the idea is just not good enough. The meeting forced these two unbelievably talented creators to do what they do best – create. And, by the way, through the process of creation, ideas flowed like honey.
Many other valuable consequences were created from the sessions. A dependent bond between both creators help lead to a new relationship that could regularly produce music – top level music. It now could do that on demand, even when the participants did not will it. This duo was created because they shared a common goal and working with a common culture of truly satisfying the most nebulous need of the creator, unjudging freedom.
The collaboration ultimately produced two very popular hits and ten successful ditties that would recorded and released throughout the next several years by both artists. There were no discussions of royalties or who owned what. The session did more than serve as a basic production meeting. They both knew that what this meeting did was more valuable than the worth of the product because it solved the bigger problem. The process had been refined. Independently each artist had altered their own process and learned a more efficient and successful path. It had moved each one of the producers further along a path past a stumbling spot where both had stalled.
Just as that old duffle bag supplied the ammo and ideas for discussing the next big thing, so the Powerlink Blog can fill a gap for ideas and topics that enable talented creators and industry stalwarts to create that next big thing or simply iron out a hiccup in a process that has failed to work. This Blog will discuss topics within our service area not with a focus of delivering unarguable truths but with discussions that will lead to many truths and suggestions that assist in solving problem scenarios across multiple disciplines – guided by measurable metrics. It will help us all in how to think about problems, solutions, and opportunities.
Consider this Blog as one of those highly valued sources of unique information that helps you in many things every day. A virtual duffle bag of ideas for your use.