Lessons From Crazy Heart

22 February 2010 1,234 views 2 Comments

It’s funny I’ve fallin’/Feels like flyin’/for a little while

Note: This post contains some spoiler content…

A few weeks before I went to the theater to see Crazy Heart I saw the trailer. I instantly became interested in the story of the movie. The setting of country music instantly attracted me. I was also intrigued by the soundtrack – it had a ’70s outlaw country music vibe. I’ve always been a fan of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle and others.

After seeing the movie I have to say that it is everything and more than I built it up to be.

It’s a great story for viewers to connect with. Music fans can connect with the outlaw country music. The themes of the songs on the soundtracks cross musical boundaries (I think it was Willie Nelson who said, “There are only two kinds of music: Good and Bad.”). The story of a hardened outlaw singer and songwriter connects well with young and old alike.

The best part of the movie and the biggest lesson I was able to pull out was how the story related to entrepreneurship and life in general. The setting and circumstances may vary in detail, but the ups and downs and unexpected turns are what connects us all as humans.

Let’s take a closer look at the Lessons from Crazy Heart

The Ups and Downs of Life and Business

Crazy Heart opens up with the sight of Bad Blake traveling the American Southwest in his ’78 Chevy Suburban. He’s getting by day-to-day living on the cash he makes playing at small bars and even bowling alleys. His devoted fans remember his hits from 30 or so years ago and come to see him stumble through drunken performances to get a taste of nostalgia.

Bad’s his own business. He sells what his fans are still willing to buy and he puts on the best show he knows how.  He is able to get by in life by drinking and treating his body like a dumpster. He has the perception that his fans want a hard-drinking, fun-loving outlaw and that’s exactly what he gives them. It pays enough to just get by, but the business model doesn’t pay nearly as good as it once did.

Just as Bad found in the movie, most businesses find  that the typical model has a lifespan. Businesses reach a peak of profitability and then ride out the lifespan as long as they can. If the concept doesn’t change much profits will slowly diminish. New models will come along and slowly the demand for products wears off.

The successful businesses are those that adapt to change and have a progressive nature.

Bad knows that his old business model of touring is what pays his bills. He just doesn’t know how to reignite the excitement in himself and his music to get more people to come to his shows. He also doesn’t know how to broaden his audience and expand his fan base.

There are two interesting points in the movie where Bad discusses songwriting.

The first has Bad talking with his agent about new albums and new songs. The agent wants Bad to write some new material (update his business model) while Bad wants to remix his old hits and repackage them for fans to purchase (old business model).

Bad and his agent both have the feeling that Bad’s career is going nowhere. They both work hard to make a few of the remaining bucks Bad is worth. They keep fighting and hoping for some inspiration to strike and one day it does.

Bad’s agent is able to work with rising star and former Bad disciple, Tommy Sweet. Tommy learned how to play, sing and entertain from Bad and now is seeing his own success. Tommy gets Bad to open up for him at one of his shows. Just before the show the two have a chat about business and Bad is eager to get together to record duets on his old songs. Tommy says he loves working with Bad, but that such an album is not in high demand.

Tommy offers Bad the opportunity to write songs for his upcoming solo release. Bad brushes off the idea and the two go about their way.

Eventually Bad is able to find inspiration (love interest) and writes a great song. This song reignites his star and he finds a new business that he can sell. Over the next 18 months or so Tommy takes the song to the tops of the charts and Bad is bad in demand as an entertainer. His old music is finding new ears and new folks are coming to his shows as a result of the new song.

All businesses that expect to continually succeed need to be progressive in nature. Business leaders can work a successful formula to death, but to expect to have it ride a peak forever is signing a death certificate for the business.

People involved with kick and scream at the suggestion of change, but for the sake of continual growth and prosperity it’s necessary to find new models and new products that consumers demand.

The Impact of a Soundtrack

Lead actor Jeff Bridges credits Ryan Bingham with saving Crazy Heart

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. The importance of soundtrack in movies is understood by all involved. For this movie, Ryan Bingham was able to take the script and capture the mood in the song The Weary Kind.

The song became the theme during production. The mood of the song is perfect for setting viewers up to understand the life of the lead character.

The songs in the movie parallel the life and business model Bad Blake follows. The songs he wrote that made him an outlaw country music star take him through ups and downs and as we first see him the songs are finding their last bit of interest with Bad playing them in broken down venues.

Then Bad finds inspiration and pens The Weary Kind and interest is renewed in the entertainer.

The soundtrack of Crazy Heart sets the tone for the movie. As a viewer, I was captured by the authentic sound of the “classic” Bad Blake songs. I was also swallowed up by The Weary Kind as the song connected me with the story of Bad Blake.

Credit goes to T. Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham, and Stephen Bruton for putting together the Crazy Heart soundtrack

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.

Summary

Crazy Heart, the story of Bad Blake, parallels the life of a business.

Business models go through their life cycles and it’s important for business leaders to be progressive focused. People involved with the business will want things to remain the same, but without change there cannot be growth.

Successful leaders push through the resistance and change their models to give consumers something they demand.

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2 Comments »
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  • Sarah Lynn
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    said:

    Great Post Dayne! I love how you can take anything from life, pull out the lesson and relate it to general business. Very clever. Crazy Heart is a fabulous movie. I suggest everyone go and see it.

  • Dayne Shuda
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    (author)
    said:

    Thanks, Sarah. Life cycles on the same path as business.

    It’s the stories that help us understand the world around us and Crazy Heart is a great story.