"The screen door slams; Mary's dress waves. Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays."
What a great beginning to a short story, don't you think? In just those two sentences, the writer has introduced a character, established a mood, and made you wonder just what the heck is going on with Mary.
Well, if you're an old dude like me, or appreciate what has come to be known as classic rock but was always just rock and roll until I suddenly woke up one day and was old, you might recognize those two sentences as the beginning of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road," one of all-time great rock and roll songs ever written, in my humble opinion. But it's more than the beginning of a great song, it's also the beginning of a great short story.
I've always thought there was a very close connection between music and the written word. A great song, no matter in what musical genre, tells a tale that draws the listener in and invests him or her in the outcome, just as a great story does the same thing. Obviously, the instrumentation plays a part in making or breaking a song too, but the lyrics form the portion of the song most people can relate to.
Talk about the ultimate short story! For an artist to be able to weave a cogent tale in four minutes that makes the listener care about the people involved and want to know the outcome is incredible. And, oh yeah, don't forget it's got to rhyme, too. And remember the chorus, you have to work that in there as well.
I've always suspected that people who love to read are also often the same people who love music, and vice-versa. I have no idea whether that is actually the case, except of course in my own experience where it is very much the case. But I'll bet that if a study was ever done - and for all I know maybe there has been a study conducted that I just don't know about - they would discover that voracious readers tend to love music, and people who love music tend to read a lot.
I'm not sure what that even means, if anything, other than if it's true, remember you heard it here first. Just something I've always wondered about.
And about Mary, the girl dancing on the porch in the beginning of "Thunder Road"? If you want to know how her story ends, you'll just have to listen to the song, so put that book down for a couple of minutes and crank up your iPod.