When I interview people for a job, one question that I’ve used for quite a few years is: What type of music do you like? I’m not interested in genres, but in songwriters and performers. I’ve been inclined to hire people who like Springsteen, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Sinatra, Steely Dan, Billy Joel, and for my classical music, Tchaikovsky.
Why do I use this question in an interview? Because it’s a great way to get to know a person. When they’re mentioned one of the above, I know that they like music that:
- Tells a story and means it.
- Flows. Seamlessly. Both the story and the music.
- Can be moved to. After all, you want the story to make you move. Not just dancing, but also move people to get up and act.
- Is passionate. Like the people I want to have around me, working towards a goal passionately.
Think about these storytellers:
- You can just see the policeman stopping Jay-Z, when you hear him tell the story in 99 Problems
- Even if you’ve never seen the Nutcracker Suite, listening to the music gives you insight into the story and let’s you imagine it.
- Steely Dan’s My Old School gives you a picture of the former student who is now with the “working girls at the county jail.”
- Who doesn’t recognize the characters that we’re introduced to at the bar in Piano Man?
Each performer and/or songwriter puts you up close to an unfolding story in a passionate way, and actually gives you such a clear picture that you are there.
Sound familiar? At this time of year, it should. This is exactly what is asked of us at the Passover Seder: Engage people in your storytelling and in your story-singing in such a way that we all see ourselves in the story (“as if he personally came out of Egypt”).
Let’s all learn from those people whose storytelling skills we respect: musicians, songwriters, artists, and storytellers. On the Seder night ahead, let’s use the passion and our best ways of communicating to see the story, experience our presence in the story and to envision how the story continues from generation to generation.
And as we invite others into the story, may we move them and ourselves to continue the story and move to the world we want for ourselves and for generations to come.
Chag Sameach, a Happy and Joyous Pesach to one and all!