When I saw Jeff Edelstein‘s music video about New Jersey’s controversial bridge and learned how he crowdsourced it, I asked him to explain. Here’s a guest post from the Trentonian columnist (I added the links, illustrations and embeds):
Basically, when you write a Bruce Springsteen parody song about the governor of New Jersey being embroiled in a massive controversy bordering on cover-up, you’re going to need to find someone to put it to music.
This was the position I found myself in Friday morning, Jan. 10.
So I wrote a song.
I had already written my regular column for Friday about Christie. It was a more sober look at what was going on. But I usually don’t do sober, and so the idea struck me to write the Springsteen-inspired song. There was a lot of Springsteen/Christie references all over Twitter, a lot of repurposing of The Boss’s lyrics to fit Bridgegate.
I felt I could do one better as a born and bred New Jerseyan and member of the Church of Bruce by writing something in Springsteen’s style. The song ended up being more “of” the scandal, not “about” the scandal, detailing the story of a man named Jimmy, who “shot a man in Teaneck last night” and tried to get out of town, but ended up being caught because he got snarled in the traffic caused by the Christie administration.
Anyway, I wrote it early Friday, and then I went to my Facebook page looking for help.
“Um … anyone do (or know someone who does) a great Springsteen impression and is available in the next few hours?” was my first post, around 8 a.m. A pair of shares, a few comments, no good leads. A short time later, I followed with this: “Am I writing a song about a fictional Bruce Springsteen character caught in the Fort Lee traffic jam caused by Bridgegate? Yes. Yes I am.” This got people interested, about a dozen comments, 40 or so likes.
The next post, around 9 a.m., was the clincher:
The tips poured in, and many people posted in the comments by simply tagging musicians they knew. One of those people — who lives well out of The Trentonian’s coverage area — tagged her friend Briz Conard, who messaged me at 9:51a.m. telling me he did a dead-on Bruce impression. By 9:57, we were on the phone, I told him I was looking, musically, for something that would fit with the “Nebraska” album, he sung the first two lines of my lyrics back to me, and … three hours later, he recorded and uploaded it to YouTube.
No way this happens as seamlessly (or at all) without the use of social media, in this case, Facebook.
Clearly, this “story” demanded a video component. The lyrics were clever and smart (obviously) but wouldn’t come alive — and have the potential to go viral — without the video.
As it stands, it’s our 13th most popular story for the month, but we’re still hoping for a big push via bigger media. On Monday morning, the Philadelphia Fox affiliate featured it, and if we Tweet “The Daily Show” one more time, I fear we’ll be blocked.
— Jeff Edelstein (@jeffedelstein) January 10, 2014
Jeff has been featured a lot in my blog. The main reason (besides that he’s damn good): Jeff fills me in with a tweet or an email when he’s doing something cool. Let me know — @stevebuttry or sbuttry (at) digitalfirstmedia (dot) com — when you’re doing something cool. I may just retweet you if I’m busy. Or I may do a blog post (or invite you to do a guest post). Or I may refer you to Chris March, editor of the Inside Thunderdome blog, who loves to spotlight Digital First journalists doing great work. In fact, this is a standing invitation to DFM colleagues to tell me about the creative ways you’re using digital tools to do better journalism. I welcome guest posts from my colleagues.
Earlier posts featuring Jeff Edelstein: