I’m a little bit covetous, I think it’s one of the hangovers of being an only child. I like to have things to myself, Gollum-like. One such thing is a new podcast discovery, Jules and James, which I’ve been secretly listening to and not telling anyone about. Enough of that now, time to show the world.
The Jules & James podcast is an indefinite conversation beginning with a wrong number, and through the episodes you eavesdrop gloriously on two artists in different cities, and the stories they have to tell. That’s a ‘you had me at hello’ moment, right?* This is the first crucial ingredient in every good story – an idea whose intrigue and possibility belies its beautiful simplicity.
Jules and James is pure romance. Not so much in the way of candlelit dinners and Anthony and Cleopatra, but in the way of what we think about when we think about old Hollywood. It is the romance of serendipity, of phone calls, of thousands of miles, of a deep personal connection that we all hate to admit that we lack. It has nostalgia and curiosity, and that lovely feeling of quietly eavesdropping with a slight smile.
As I start to write this, I realise all these feelings and pictures have been evoked from two voices and a good story. We all love a story, but we often underestimate their power; whether it’s a story told in the oral tradition, written in pages or in the shadow of a photograph. We’re surrounded by stories, yet they’re so ingrained in us we barely notice them.
In the marketing world, ‘storytelling’ is currently a big thing. Every brand clamours to thrust their story in the faces of consumers like gamblers at the racecourse, pushing their fistfuls of cash at the bookies and hoping something sticks. Everyone wants a piece of ‘content marketing’ (literally and metaphorically), and often, as is so often the way, it is reduced to its easiest form: a couple of hastily written, newsjack-y blog posts. In the era of clickbait and two second attention spans, are we losing the art of beautiful storytelling?
We all know, not from experience but from the human intuition coded into our DNA, that storytelling is not a thing that comes from a formula for ‘the perfect blog post’. A story is, regardless of its actual Dictionary definition, a living entity. It is a little bit magic, suspending our attention in time and dancing around us trailing flowers and intrigue. A story is not something we gaupingly scroll through on the train.
And that, I think, is the difference between ‘content’ and ‘stories’. A story has a soul, one borrowed from the person who created and nurtured it, who believed so passionately in its possibility but who unclipped its wings and let it bloom into something of its own, taking a little meaning and heart from everyone it encountered.
Which brings me back to Jules and James. Theirs is a story bursting with heart. It bristles with the belief and ambition of its creators and embodies their initial concept, no doubt dreamt up during one of those crazy organic conversations that happens late at night between creative people. But mostly it has its own sense of life. It is not a story that depends on its creators for drive and meaning, it doesn’t need to be ‘bought into’ and explained and thrust into faces. It is, in its concept and delivery, so brimming with life that it is infectious, and makes us all want to skip along after it like the Pied Piper. Whether you just love a good story, or you want to learn to tell one, listen to Jules & James for a few moments of escapist enchantment.
*This post happened because it was sponsored by the Jules & James podcast – although of course, the words are all mine and from the heart. You can find out more about the podcast and its creators on the website meetjulesandjames.com, where you can also subscribe on your podcast delivery system of choice 🙂