One of the more moving musical performances for me during the pandemic has been John Fogerty singing and playing with his kids, with his wife apparently behind the camera, in our Tiny Desk Home Concerts series. He sounds great, and the kids play well. And they are all stuck at home, and his best wishes to the rest of us are most sincere. When he plays Centerfield, you’ve heard the song a million times, but you’ve never experience its yearning quite so much.
Of all the things my NPR friends have produced during my time there (seven years and counting), this video is one of my favorite things. Play it in full-screen HD if you can, using the buttons in the bottom-right of the player.
During the past few weeks, I’ve helped the Hidden Brain bring an experiment to life — study guides based on their episodes. They had the idea, hired a terrific, education-focused intern to create the guides and wanted to do a minimum viable beta to test the concept. Colleague Dan and I assisted in squaring the goals with our site and CMS and getting the pages out the door. It was unexpected and so nice of them to mention us on the show.
Host Shankar explains the premise in the first minute, and we show up with about two minutes to go. (But you should listen to the whole episode because it’s always a fascinating listen.)
Most of the artists who come to the Tiny Desk Concerts (just across the floor from my team at NPR), I don’t know. But every once in a great while the Tiny Desk’s choices align with my own… and it’s a shame if I’m out of the office when that happens. Such was the case with the Drive-By Truckers’ recent visit, promoting an album I’ve been listening to on repeat.
Rife with guns, race, national troubles, difficult historical forces, and an amazing balance of lyrical complexity and tunefulness, the songs are straight fire from vagabond perspectives. Sad to miss the show but glad to work at a place that creates and records moments. Colleague Lars has more about the songs here.
Like two amazing Tiny Desk Concerts during two of my most frustrating days at work this spring. Sounds that get through to your soul and administer the right kind of electricity.
Tedeschi Trucks Band.
On the last track above, Anyhow, I love the echoes of the Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See (“what the woman, Lord, been doin’ to me.”) A cover keeps threatening to break out but never does. The riff wants to go somewhere new.
The most heartbreaking piece I’ve heard in a while.
Found an email this weekend where I told myself to blog these thoughts. Never did. So here we are, with storytelling semantics.
We can do basic semantic handling for an aggregation or non-narrative parts of a story. Something is more important. Something is less important. Something has some priority in relation to other pieces. But *within* the narrative, storytelling itself is semantic. An asset at the top designates an introductory element. An asset near the end designates a conclusive element. Assets along the way are ordered so as to best define an inquisitive journey. An asset to the side of a narrative indicates explanation. An asset in the narrative flow indicates it’s a core part of the storytelling.
Basic semantic handling is fine. Natural narrative semantic handling is AWESOME.
If you allow this kind of natural semantics, can producers violate this contract with the audience and drop in assets wherever, without regard for relation to the narrative and the meaning of that relation? Certainly. But it’s not the system’s job to stop their mistakes. Their organizations and bosses have that responsibility, and digital organizations and bosses have the ongoing task of helping producers tell the best stories possible, with smart and strong narratives. Building off that direction, that digital storytelling is getting better, our platforms and distribution should encourage smart interpretations of natural, narrative semantic decisions….
(News from a couple weeks ago, that is.)
Both the NPR.org redesign project I’ve been managing the past couple years and the NPR One app project to which I’ve contributed are finalists for the Society of News Design’s Digital “World’s Best Designed” competition. NPR is the only organization with two finalists among the 10. I work with terrific people. More new product designs to come.