Friday, December 11, 2009

A Writer's Emotional Education

A recent op/ed piece by New York Times columnist David Brooks struck a chord with me. In the piece, Brooks talks at length about the "emotional education" he received from none other than one of my favorite musicians, Bruce Springsteen. (Read the piece here). To me, Brooks perfectly summarized the feelings of all Springsteen fans.

Beyond that, though, Brooks' piece is just one example of an artist's job--to inspire an emotional connection to our work. Sure, it's easier to do that with music than perhaps other genres, but despite the medium--music, painting, books--the end goal is the same. Another part of our job is to give our audiences a glimpse into what could be, and that's not something to be taken lightly. I think it's been easy for Springsteen fans to connect with his lyrics in particular because he gives some light and hope to the underdog--we may not be a laid off mill worker or a teen mother or someone from the wrong side of the tracks, but through his words and imagery, we're able to better understand these folks a bit. For me, I became a Bruce fan during a particularly difficult time in my life. I started listening to his song "Better Days" over and over again, and for some reason the lyrics just clicked with me--he'd put my feelings right into words, saying it far better than I possibly could at the time. It seemed to sum up my experience at the time, and I thought that someone, even a fabulously wealthy rock star celebrity, had bad days once in awhile, and it gave me a little bit of hope.

What artistic works have had a particularly strong effect on you?

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