What’s the backstory – Muscle Shoals on PBS

Clarence Carter in “Muscle Shoals,” image from PBS.org


When I first started listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd in high school I quickly learned the words to many songs including “Sweet Home Alabama.”  There was a line in the song that I knew by heart but had no idea what it meant, “in Muscle Shoals they love the Swampers.”  I knew the song was about Alabama and at the time ESPN always showed swamp buggy racing, so I assumed that this lyric was about swamp buggies (check them out, trust me).

Four years ago, I stumbled onto a short documentary on Vice.com, “The Muscle Shoals Sound,” (which incidentally I believe was what they call “sponsored content” now from Levi’s) and I was introduced to Fame Studios and the amazing music created by world famous bands that all came to this small town in Alabama.

Tonight, I by chance turned on a new documentary on PBS Independent Lens about Muscle Shoals. Please go watch it, and next time you hear a lyric that catches you, track down what it means. Who knows maybe you’ll stumble onto some of the most amazing music you’ll ever find.


Also, they’ve created an amazing play list of songs from Muscle Shoals on Spotify. Check it out. Trust me.




Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 701 – “Time Zones”

Image from AMCTV.com/MadMen
Image from AMCTV.com/MadMen

Mad Men is entering its prolonged last season and continues to include real issues faced by advertising (and yes PR firms) in an incredible show. If I wasn’t in this industry, I’m sure I would still be a fan of the show, but for me I get a bonus. I get to watch situations I encounter all the time dealt with by others. Mad Men continues to include real issues faced by advertising (and yes PR firms) in an incredible show. Throughout the course of the series I’ve written 23 posts about real world agency lessons from the show and here’s a few from “Time Zones:”

  • “Advertising might be a more effective if it’s better integrated into our business” – moving things in house. Change for change sake. “I was hired to be bold and I am prepared to make my recommendation.” This is what Joan is told when she meets with a current client who wants to bring all of their advertising in house. Joan ends up turning this around with a Monday morning phone call when she presents the client with reasons why an agency can do things he can’t do in house just yet. This could have been avoided if Joan had been adequately prepped for the meeting (and even if prepped sometimes you still get blindsided).
  • After Joan’s initial meeting with the client, who has an MBA, she goes to a third party expert, in education, for ideas and validation. We do this all the time and if you’re not, you should be.
  • We have apparently identified the exact moment when people moved from the handshake to the “professional hug.” It’s in the office, heck it’s onstage when someone meets the president, but we can point to this beginning when Pete greets Don in the coffee shop and Don sticks out his hand and Pete gives him what Seinfeld’s Uncle Leo would call a “firm embrace.”