We’re only a few short weeks into the year, and I’ve lost three of my “friends” from my lonely-kid-in-rural-Nebraska days listening to the radio, buying records and transcribing the weekly Billboard countdown, courtesy of Casey Kasem, in my little notebook. Always, it was my older sister who got to go to the concerts then … trekking to Denver or Lincoln.
Glenn Frey of The Eagles, David Bowie and Natalie Cole … all of them now suddenly beyond us. Undoubtedly, they passed each other on the charts countless times during the 1970s. I’ve spent the past few days on YouTube and my iPod … “This Will Be” (Natalie Cole’s debut single in 1976, netting her a Grammy), “Lyin’ Eyes” (The Eagles scored three Top 10 hits from their “One of These Nights” LP), and “Fame” (David Bowie’s first U.S. No. 1, in 1975, co-written by John Lennon — here he is live on “Soul Train”) all being among my all-time favorites.
Yes, when our pop heroes and heroines leave us, we’re nostalgic, melancholic and we wonder if any other living artist can ever take their place. The message in music is always there, today as well as yesterday, but do we ever absorb it the same as we did when we were 13 years old?
Lucky for me, I can honestly say when I hear my 70s playlist today, I reliably transport myself to the emotions I had when I first “processed” a song — the goose bumps, the inside tear or smile, even my emotional state at the time in Ogallala, Neb. That’s the power of musicians, artists, producers and songwriters: that emotional journey.
Today, we have the Adele phenomenon … and I’ve been taken in by her since I first heard a raw cut of “Chasing Pavements” eight years ago. And Pharrell is genius, since I first came to know him from “Provider” back in 2002 as N*E*R*D. Of course, the circumstances of my life, play and work are far, far different from being a Great Plains misfit (now I live in New York City, where all misfits can still find a home), but I’m still that little oddball kid when it comes to music consumption.
How does all this relate to advertising and marketing? I’m certain when I hear Three Dog Night’s “Shambala” (Bank of America), Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” (PetSmart) or Cole’s “This Will Be” (eHarmony) in a TV or online commercial, some agency creative director had both a target audience and business goals to 1) grab attention and 2) make an emotional connection. With me, that’s 1) check and 2) check. Now back to my playlist — and hero worship.