Content provided by John Ludlow, CLS Chief Operations Officer
Like many of you, I love to watch movies and listen to music. For me it’s not just about the plot and acting in a movie or the beat to the music. Oh, I love a good story line and aggressive music beat but I also pay close attention to the script of a movie and the lyrics of a song. So much so that I have learned to use them in my everyday life. You would be surprised at how often life really does imitate art to the extent that I can find a movie line or song lyric to fit almost any situation. Let’s look at some examples. We’ll start with some easy ones.
Let’s say you are at home or work and someone, it could be anyone, starts making unreasonable demands on you. These demands could be related to work outside your job description to non-stop nagging about menial tasks at home. Regardless, you can respond appropriately to this annoying situation with a quick line given from poor Westley to Princess Buttercup in the movie The Princess Bride: “As you wish.” In those three little words you are both agreeing to help but at the same time sending a clear message that you understand an unreasonable demand when you hear one. Whether or not they get the message is largely irrelevant. A word of caution – be sure to recognize when ‘As you wish’ starts to mean ‘I love you.’ This can be especially awkward at work or with someone you barely know. Just saying.
Let’s move on.
In the financial services world there can be plenty of worry to go around. Clients can get worried about their accounts and financial future. Portfolio managers can get frustrated by an irrational stock market. In turn, financial advisors become concerned that their clients will throw in the proverbial towel and find another place to put their money. A quick movie line to put into action if you are talking to someone with these concerns comes from none other than Darth Vader: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” In one quick moment you have called out the person for his/her non-belief and asserted your supreme authority at the same time. A little bit of trivia: Lord Vader’s’ very next line in that scene from Star Wars IV is “As you wish!” Purely a coincidence or is Darth perhaps quoting Westley? You decide.
No reason to stop here. There are literally millions of ways to work a movie line into your every-day conversation. Here are a few of my favorite lines and suggested scenarios with which to use them:
Up against someone who wrongly thinks they can beat you in a sport or at a game? – “Oh, I don’t lose. People who bet on me to lose, lose and they lose big. You come at me you better know I move quick and when I do I slice. Like a *#$&% hammer” (Willy Bank in Ocean’s 13)
Have a friend or significant other who claims you are not being ‘fair?’ – “Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!” (The Joker in The Dark Knight.)
Is someone complaining that they have been out of the house too long or they just need to get home for some unreasonable reason? – “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.)
Switching to song lyrics…
Ever since I can remember I have loved to listen to music. I never did play much music. The exception, of course, being the saxophone I attempted to play from the 5th – 8th grade. But that didn’t work out so well so I stuck with just listening to music.
Song lyrics are different from movie lines in that most movie lines are written as part of a dialogue with another person. Movie lines are also in the context of a movie including the plot, setting, other characters, etc. so when you quote a movie line, especially a well-known one, most people understand the reason for your quote. Not so for song lyrics. Song lyrics are written by the song writer for the song writer and are largely based on his/her mostly unknown feelings and emotions at the time. The lyrics are then delivered unilaterally through a song without response, setting, or plot. This makes the use of song lyrics in every day conversation much more fun as the recipient of the lyric may not have any clue what you are talking about. Even if they do the relevance of quoting a given lyric is largely unrecognized. This is where it gets fun.
Here’s a recent example from my own life.
My wife, Tamara, and I were recently driving through town running errands when we came upon an intersection where the stoplights were not working. Instead of the orderly transition from green to yellow to red the lights were simply flashing red in all directions. As we drove up to the intersection I was reminded of one of my favorite Green Day songs from their new ‘Dos’ album. In a flash I heard myself shouting “Stop when the red lights flash! I’ll trade you blood for dirty cash!” Then I skipped ahead in the song a bit, lovingly pointed at Tamara and repeated “I’ll make you surrender!” over and over again, just like the song. To this day I have no clue what the lyrics in that particular song actually mean. Of course, Tamara had no clue what I was saying or why and essentially that’s the point. I had shown that I can come up with a ‘relevant’ song lyric for almost any occasion that’s all that matters. We went on with our errands with a smile on my face and an acute sense of clever accomplishment. At least I did…
The advent of reality shows over the past decade or so have been especially useful in the quoting of song lyrics. Whether it’s Survivor, Biggest Loser, Amazing Race, Top Chef, etc. the use of the phrase ‘One Step Closer’ always sparks the reciting of a song lyric in the Ludlow home. Whenever the phrase is used and a reality show contestant is told they are ‘One Step Closer’ to the prize at hand my teenage boys and I race to point at each other and scream: “’Cause I’m one step closer to the edge! And I’m about to break!” Linkin Park – “One Step Closer.” What does the song have to do with reality shows? Nothing. It’s just a reason for us to point and scream song lyrics at each other. So we do.
Here are some other good uses for song lyrics:
In almost any situation where you are talking to a loved one about any of their life’s troubles? – “All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.” (The Beatles – “All You Need is Love.”)
At a restaurant eating really good food or talking about a movie you recently enjoyed? – “I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it, we can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it, oh let’s dig it. Can you dig it, baby?” (Grazing In The Grass – “Friends of Distinction”)
Just got assigned a big project at work and you’re excited about doing a great job? – “Before the cool done run out I’ll be giving it my bestest. And nothing’s going to stop me but divine intervention. I reckon it’s again my turn to win some or lose some.” (Jason Mraz – “I’m Yours”)
See someone you would like to meet but are struggling to find the right pickup line? – “Hello, I love you. Won’t you tell me your name?” (The Doors – “Hello, I Love You.”) OR for a more modern, and annoying, flare – “We headed to the bar, baby don’t be nervous. No shoes, no shirt, and I still get service (watch!). I’m sexy and I know it.” (LMFAO – “Sexy and I Know It.”)
All done with the dating scene and now you find yourself very much in love? – “I have died everyday waiting for you. Darlin’ don’t be afraid. I have loved you for a Thousand years. I’ll love you for a Thousand more.” (Christina Perri – “A Thousand Years”)
I could go on forever. But I’ll make it stop now.
The bottom line is there is a movie line or a song lyric for literally every occasion under the sun. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to compile a list of your own favorite lines and lyrics and start to use them in your conversations. So assess the situation as you proceed through your personal and professional life and try to fit in a line or two that can be both entertaining and enlightening for all involved. The key, of course, is to use your new-found talent for good-natured humor while at the same time showing everyone how clever you can be. Your friends and co-workers will only be impressed at your ability to piggy-back on the work of the genius writers who came up with the lines and lyrics that you will always remember and use to add color and flavor to your conversations.