I recently picked up and watched (a couple of parts several times) Neil Peart – A Work In Progress on DVD. If you are not familiar with Neil Peart (Google search results), he is the drummer for the band Rush. If you’re not familiar with the band Rush, they’re…. Well, if you are not familiar with them then shame on you.
Anyway, I had just heard a presentation on the value of storytelling as a component of an effective knowledge management system the week before, and as I watched A Work In Progress my thoughts kept going back to something like, “If the stories they told at the office were this good, and this entertaining, everyone would jump right on the storytelling bandwagon!”
At its heart, A Work In Progress is a drumming lesson from the “professor of the drum kit,” but if that was all it would not be that different from any other How-To video you can get at the local music shop. Basically, the DVD is the authorized biography of how Neil (Mr. Peart?)* created and performed the drum parts for the band’s Test For Echo CD. (It is worth noting here that in addition to being the band’s drummer, Neil writes all the lyrics for the band’s songs. This DVD, however, does not really talk about the lyric writing for the album.) At the beginning of the story, Neil talks a little about the overall background of the album, the process the band follows to put songs together, etc.
The remainder of the DVD goes song by song with Neil explaining how he came up with the various rythms and ideas he used, occasionally playing a little snippet to show what he means. Then he performs each song, with all the non-drum parts playing from tape (or whatever) and him playing the drum part.
The best kind of story: Here’s what I wanted to do, how I went about doing it, and the final product.
*I’m never quite sure how to refer to famous people like this. I hate to just use their first name, as if they are childhood buddies or the guy in the next cubicle. But referring to them as Mr. or Ms. just seems a little bit too formal, like putting them up on a pedestal or something. So (decision time!): From now on I’ll likely refer to most famous people simply by their first name, but will sometimes refer to them more formally. (How’s that for a decision?)