The Mantra or how to find grace in copywriting.
April 27, 2009
I still haven’t found the tag line I’m looking for.
Featured in the lyrics of U2’s exceptional new album, No Line On The Horizon is this exhortation from Bono: “I found grace inside a sound. I found grace that’s all I’ve found.” On an earlier track he beseeches (God?) to “let me in the sound…let me in the sound.” Over and over again. Until he finds grace. And then he can “breathe again.”
God, I love U2. Whereas some tire of Bono’s grandiose soul searching and God-filled exhortations I can’t get enough. Many years ago, when it dawned on me that U2 was making music primarily about God and the search for Him something clicked. Here was a rock band looking for greater meaning and not a cold one or a hot piece of ass. Nothing wrong with singing about beer and women but eventually we grow up –or try to anyway.
But if the popular reading of U2’s lyrics is about searching for God, there is another view and one I think all readers here can appreciate: Bono is singing about creativity. You know… when it’s just you and the keyboard, looking for words, playing with an idea, shaping and rearranging it until it’s almost perfect? That. That moment of Zen is what he is singing about. This is where he finds grace.
When I sit down with a brief, I begin hunting for one true thing I can say or express about the client I’m being asked to advertise. If I hit upon something then I go about trying to prove it out in a paragraph or two. We call this a mantra. Writing a mantra is akin to making art. We do not just hash something together. We roll the words around like stones in a rock tumbler until they are perfect. We find grace.