I listened to Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything – revolutionary slogans will be written by the winners. In it, he talks to radio producer Silvain Gire about his mother’s encounter with Guy Debord and Mitt Romney in 1968 France.
Walker’s voice is a little nasally, which suggests he may be a bit geeky. You can kind of even picture what he might look like just based on a short snippet of his voice alone. He provides the right inflection to show what might be interesting in the story as he is introducing it. His voice seems a bit breathy, not because of audible breathing, but because of the frequent pauses. It is a bit rough, but not in a rugged way at all. His voice is clearly male, however it is not especially low pitched.
Gire’s voice has a strong, but pleasant French accent. From an American standpoint, it sounds wise and strong. It is smooth and easy to listen to. His deep voice is loud and steady, very sure of the story he is telling. It is relaxed and shows his authority as a man and as the storyteller in this conversation.
This podcast was simply a conversation these men had about a strange story that Gire’s mother told him. Their conversation consists mostly of Gire telling a story, with Walker asking a few questions to clarify every so often. There is never any competition in who is talking. Gire has a story that he wants to tell and Walker wants to hear about it.
The element of music will not really make sense without a better explanation of the general plotline of the story that Gire told. Essentially, Mitt Romney had to go on an overseas mission trip when he turned 18 as a Mormon obligation. This landed him in France in 1968. Struggling to get his word out door to door, with a general strike strewn about the city, tear gas in the air, Mitt Romney was distraught. He wound up meeting Silvain Gire’s mother Madeline and speaking with her and her then boyfriend/lover/whatever Guy Debord. Mitt Romney ended up in two competitions with Debord: a drinking competition and a slogan competition. Debord was a drunk, an excellent writer, a theorist, and a tough match for a young kid who had never had a sip of alcohol and lived a strict Mormon lifestyle.
Of course this story seems pretty absurd to anyone who knows anything about Mitt Romney’s wholesome appearance. This is where the dynamic use of music plays a huge role. Background music comes in several times throughout the podcast. There is music that sounds like a typical French song. I have no clue what French music is like, but if you had to think of stereotypical French music, especially as it is used in movies and such, you would have the same song in your head as I do. This music lulls a listener into accepting the story. There is something mysterious and intriguing about France. By using this music as points where a listener may be skeptical, they are swaying into listening to the story and feeling more powerfully about it than they may have otherwise.
It even breaks into a bit of a typical detective-y, mystery, let’s-solve-the-case type of music that you would expect when someone is looking for a bad guy in a movie. It may sound cheesy, but it really did work. Go ahead and give it a listen: https://toe.prx.org/2016/08/revolutionary-slogans-will-be-written-by-the-winners/