Sunday, May 16, 2010

Need a Good Story? Listen to a Country Song - A Lesson in Conflict

By Kimberly Johnson

Country music songwriters are some of the finest writers. They immediately assemble the basic building blocks to a good story; elements that perhaps novelists sometimes fail to fully develop: setting, plot, conflict, character, point of view and theme. What key ingredient makes a Nashville hit? Conflict. That quarrel, that squabble, that moaning and groaning between characters; it’s the reason why the listener stays tuned and taps his foot.

The lyricist chooses from internal or external conflict to build his composition, employing one of the following conflicts to create tension and a great song: man vs. man, man vs. circumstances, man vs. society and man vs. himself.

Willie Nelson’s "Crazy" is a prime example of a good story, a lesson in conflict. Nelson pens the internal struggle of a woman who is distraught because her man doesn’t love her. He’s left her for another woman. Nelson’s lines examine the grief that the leading character harbors. The late Patsy Cline brings the story to life as she woefully croons...
I’m crazy for feeling so lonely, I’m crazy, crazy for feeling for feeling so blue. I knew, you ‘d love me as long as you wanted, and then someday, you’d leave me for somebody new…Worry, why do I let myself worry, wonderin’ what in the world what I did I do, oh crazy, for thinking my love could hold you, I’m crazy for trying, and crazy for crying…

Another good story with a lesson in conflict is Dolly Parton’s 1970s chart topper "Jolene." In this narrative, a woman (Dolly), tells the other woman (Jolene) to leave her man (Dolly’s husband) alone. Jolene, a red head beauty, is a home wrecker. Dolly begs Jolene to stop using her womanly ways to seduce her man. Dolly, the songwriter, cunningly reveals to the audience the reasons, and conflicting elements, why her man is in love with the other woman.
Jolene. Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene. I’m beggin’ of you not to take my man. Please don’t take him just because you can…your beauty of is beyond compare with flaming locks of auburn hair…I cannot compete with you, Jolene. He talks about you in his sleep and there’s nothing I can do to keep from crying when he calls your name. Jolene I can easy understand, how you can easy take my man, but you don’t know what he means to me. Jolene. Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene . Please don’t take him just because you can…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you play Country and Western music backwards,
you get your job back,
you get your wife back,
you get your girlfriend back,
you get your dog back,
you get your pickup back,
makes the soap operas look like a free yearlong vacation on a Carribean Resort island
I have logged on or signed up over three dozen times to this sight,
I log out and try to log right back in and it tells me my username and password is wrong,
this place is totally,
screwed up