Shop Vac by Jonathan Coulton

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The designer-me wants to watch this again and again, marveling at the excellent way this production alludes to brands again and again with fonts, forms and color. I’ve long been a fan of allusion — it’s part of my attraction to Animaniacs and Muppets — and this is visual rather than verbal, so it is a double treat. For me. It’s brilliantly done.

Then I start listening to the music…and words as conveyers of meaning and not just excuses for font choices…and I’m struck a second time by the excellent way this song describes a depth of sadness about the state of relationships and such without telling us much of anything. When I taught writing, I used to use the “show me, don’t tell me” instruction over and again. This lyricist gets that and does it really well.

How do I know? ¬†Well, in things written otherwise, if I ask you to tell me what it’s about, you’ll use a lot of words in the song to summarize the song. But in this song, if I want to tell you what I think it’s about, I can do so without using any of the significant words the song uses. I don’t need to tell you about shop vacs at all, for instance.