Van the Man.

A few months ago, I read an interview in Time magazine with the Irish rock legend, Van Morrison. On my personal top ten song list, Morrison would be represented at least once. (Along with the Beatles, Stones, Doors, Springsteen, Petty, Seger, Young and Dylan, in case you’re wondering). He’s a notorious recluse, so any sighting is a rare thing.

Toward the end of the interview, the reporter asked, “Do any musicians or groups today excite you?”
“No,” Morrison said “Absolutely not. It’s all been done, you know?”
Weeks later, a Time reader wrote to express her disappointment in Morrison, commenting on how jaded he seems. In essence, she said she could never listen to his music in quite the same way again.
A couple of problems with that. First, Morrison has always been a bitter man. He’s just gotten worse in his old age. (I can relate to that.)
Second, who cares what he thinks? The music is brilliant, his songs have stood the test of time, his voice is as distinctive as they come. He’s also grown as an artist over the years, managing to stay relevant while being true to himself. No sellout, here. For me, he’s an artist who consistently forges an emotional bond.
People seem to have a hard time separating the artist from the art, the song from the song writer. As long as the finished product is meaningful to me, it’s irrelevant what the creator of that product was thinking. Or even what kind of person he or she is.
During the first year of the Vegas Valley Book Festival, I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by counterculture novelist Tom Robbins, author of some of my favorite books. Robbins is another guy who doesn’t get out much. At the Q and A session, a number of audience members tried to get him to explain how he comes up with his ideas and what his books really mean. He made a valiant attempt but ultimately couldn’t offer a plausible explanation. And I’m fine with that. Because the only thing that matters is what I, as the reader, come away with. That’s enough for me.
It’s the same in my line of work. The marketing biz is a discipline that values creativity as much as commerce. But only if we produce results. Or, as the old Madison Avenue ad guys used to say, “It ain’t creative unless it sells.”
If it does sell, it means we connected with the reader or listener or viewer in a meaningful way. We were instrumental in changing their behavior. That’s a powerful concept and one not necessarily married to those of us who created the ad. Can you imagine a buyer saying, “I need this product, but I’m not purchasing it because I don’t like the guy who wrote the copy”? Neither can I.
So, the next time “Wild Night” or “Domino” comes on the radio, you can be sure I’ll be cranking up the volume and playing drums on the dash. Even if Morrison wouldn’t approve.
Brian Rouff is the Managing Partner for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Brian at brouff@imnv.com
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