JOHN PRINE WROTE OUR NAME, KIND OF
Finding a name can be tricky. We’ve done it for a few brands (The Watering Bowl, The Uplift Connection, Uncaged Ale, Halo & Cleaver and Eye Thrive to plug a few). But if you’re an agency, and you’re not into the whole last name thing, the search for inspiration can feel like cartoon quicksand. The harder you churn, the stuck-er you get.
Maybe we should’ve hired an agency.
Alas, we didn’t. And after sifting through a list that never got shorter, the name “Darling” kept floating up as all the others slipped out of focus.
What did “Darling” mean? We needed something to reinforce that this was the right name for us. So naturally, we turned to one of Bob Dylan’s favorite songwriters.
Sidebar: we tell clients, truthfully, that our name is also our mission–to make them the darlings of their audience. And if we’re doing our jobs well, we become the darlings of our clients.
But back to John Prine. He once told a story about the night he was discovered.
A record executive approached him after a set Prine played at a nightclub in Chicago. This was following his day job as a mailman. He wrote songs that entertained him while he was walking his route all day. And I’m guessing that occupation gave him plenty of material for his music. A record deal, however, represented a significant income increase.
Instead of snatching a pen and asking, “Where do I sign?!,” Prine said, “Well, if you like me, let’s go down the street, so you can hear my buddy Steve.” The Steve he was referring to was his longtime writing partner and the author of “City of New Orleans,” Steve Goodman.
So, when his big break came, John Prine decided to share the spotlight with a friend. He was the opposite of jealous. He was gracious and genuinely excited to show off the talents of someone else, so they might benefit.
Evidently, my memory was backwards. It was Steve Goodman who sent people to listen to Prine. Still a good story, even if I’ve been telling it wrong for five years.
Where does Darling come in? Well, part of that story is that Steve and John wrote a song together. That song was called “You Never Even Call Me By My Name,” and it was made famous by David Allen Coe. Steve started the song with, “It was all I could do to keep from cryin/Sometimes it seems so useless to remain.” And then, he was stumped. John jumped in with, “You don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin.’/You never even called me by my name.”
Got this one right at least.
And that kind of sealed the deal. We thought, if we’re able to support one another in our creative endeavors and push our ideas as team, we’ll be able to, you know, be darlings, darlin’.
Incidentally, Prine never took writer credit on the song. But Steve bought him a jukebox as a thank you. Seems fair. Come to think of it, we could use a jukebox in the office.