Songs as Poetry

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by TheConspiracy, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Well I am going to have a poetry unit in both my 9th and 10th grade cirriculum, and I have decided to do a Lesson Plan on music lyrics as poetry. What I am going to do is give each student a different song to dissect as a poem (using standard poetry guidelines) and then have them write a short paper on it.

    Part two will include the students obtaining lyrics to a song they like (I will give them strict parameters - no drug references, no curse words, etc) and have the students do a short oral presentation on why that particular song is poetry.

    Here is the list of songs I have so far - but I am trying to cross genres and I haven't found anythign in Country or Rap (sorry, I don't listent o either). So any suggestions to add to the list would be great.

    (Ps~ I checked the copyright use of the lyrics- and for the purpose of instruction and writing a paper falls under the fair use guidelines).

    Lightening Crashes - Live
    Pain Lies on the Riverside - Live
    With Arms Wide Open - Creed
    The Unforgiven - Metallica
    Untitled - Simple Plan
    Crazy - Simple Plan
    Real World - Matchbox 20
    What a Good Boy -Barenaked Ladies
    Kryptonite - 3 Doors Down
    Blowin in the Wind - Bob Dylan
    Can You Feel the Love Tonight - Elton John
    Son of a Son of A Sailor - Jimmy Buffett
    He Went to Paris - Jimmy Buffett
    Winds of Change - Scorpion
    Between Sun and Moon - Rush
    Everyday Glory - Rush
    Cats in the Cradle - Harry Chapin
    Small Town - John Mellencamp
    Imagine - John Lennon
    Let it Be - The Beatles
    Nowhere Man - The Beatles
    Can't Help Falling in Love (Fools Rush In) - Elvis (George Weiss)
    In the Ghetto - Evlis (Scott Davis)

    Any more suggestions?!?! It is harder than it sounds because good songs are not always good poems (catchy songs particularly because they are just very repititious) and also because I am trying to stay away from sexual and drug references (and curse words). I mean Last Dance With Mary Jane by Tom Petty is a heck of a poem - but I can just imageine the looks on my parents faces when they see it on the homework sheet!

    I was also thinking of having a part 3 - having students write a ballad of their own.

    ~J
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2006
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  3. AZKinderTchr

    AZKinderTchr Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2006

    I'm afraid I am of no help because I do not know what the standard poetry guidelines are, however, I had to comment! WOW I'd love to be in your class. Let us know how this goes.
     
  4. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Jul 3, 2006

    I'd check on some Brad Paisley songs...http://www.bradpaisley.com/
    For him I'm thinking...When I Get Where I'm Going...

    You'll have check...he writes his stuff mostly...very good songs on all cds....l
     
  5. Love to Teach

    Love to Teach Cohort

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Great ideas!! I have used songs to teach specific figurative language elements to my kids. Songs by Simon and Garfunkel, Garth Brooks, and John Denver are excellent for such things as: alliteration, metaphor, personification, similie, etc. :)
     
  6. Mrs_Goatess

    Mrs_Goatess Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Honestly, I'd consider taking the top 10 (cleanest) songs off the Top 40 chart, good or bad, and have students evaluate them near the close of the unit. It gives them an example of bad poetry, allows them to see what low quality lyrics their "favorite" song has, and will probably spawn a good laugh. Like math, students fail to recognize poor quality until they see the mistakes one could make.

    (I wanted to do something similar with my 8th graders last semester, but never got a chance.)
     
  7. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    Jul 3, 2006


    That is a FABULOUS idea! I can give them a contrast between the good song lyrics I have chosen (or that they have defended in their presentations) and then do a quicky wrap-up day showing them the opposite side of the equation.

    ~J
     
  8. Mrs_Goatess

    Mrs_Goatess Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2006

    When my father would catch me singing a song he didn't approve of, he would find the lyrics and read them to me in the most monotone voice he could muster. I catch myself doing it every so often with dumb songs, and that's what inspired me to do something similar. I closed my (horridly short) poetry section with a brief discussion of songs as poetry; I read a censored version of "My Humps" to my 8th graders. We all about died. Thus we concluded that modern poetry is often written to music, and doesn't have to be good to be popular.
     
  9. cwp873

    cwp873 Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2006

    I did it with Flowers Are Red by Harry Chapin - talks about a teacher forcing all kids to see the world in one specific way. Lots of his songs are great as poems, but most people only know Taxi and Cats in the Cradle.
     
  10. emccoy

    emccoy Companion

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Good luck finding a rap song without profanity. :eek:

    Don't know much in the way of country songs either.

    I noticed your original list included a pair of songs from Rush. Almost any song from them is worth taking a look. But their older songs (1976-80 or so) are phenomenal. Neil Peart is not only one of the best drummers in rock, but the best lyricist as well.

    Oddly enough, Iron Maiden has many interesting songs from the early 80s (e.g. Run to the Hills, Hallowed Be Thy Name, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner). There are many literary and cultural references within these songs.
     
  11. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    Jul 3, 2006

    WOW- so many literary allusions in Iron maiden - May actually think of pairing some of those lyrics with other lessons (Good one about Icarus, etc) - I almost don't want to spoil them by putting them in the strictly poetry section.

    As to th Rush songs - I am a HUGE rush fan - and while any piece I coud choose would be gold - I chose these (albeit later) works because I found each one particularly topical. Trust me.... who doesn't want to lead off the poetry unit with Tom Sawyer?

    ~J

    PS~ Okay I wimped out and did one Rap song that is heavily edited - by Eminem "Lose Yourself" - I figure most kids are hot or cold about Eminem - but it is at least rap and only required 2 expletives and 2 lines be deleted.
     
  12. mrs. dub

    mrs. dub Companion

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    Jul 4, 2006

    "Lose Yourself" is one of the few rap songs I like! It gets me pumped--and I can't stand Eminem! It has a good message, I think.

    One thing I tried and had success with was incorporating songs into my poetry unit (6th and 7th grade), by teaching stanza, rhyming patterns, free verse examples, metaphor, etc. through songs AND traditional poems. We also did a lot of work on theme and author's purpose (we had a blast with "Gold Digger" by Kanye West, go figure).

    On the final test, they had to copare the structure and message between lyrics of "Where is the Love?" by Black Eyed Peas and "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye. Both were war songs from cempletely different eras, and were awesome to compare and analyze.

    This was one of the best lessons I did--have a great time with it! The kids will love it.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 4, 2006

    How about Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles?

    Actually my 8 year old son loves rap (how bizarre. I'm Irish-American, my husband is Italian-American, Brian was adopted from Korea and we live in the 'burbs!!!)

    Look into the stuff by Will Smith. His rap is all G rated. There's one he wrote to his young son; the lyrics include "What cha gonna be: a doctor? a lawyer? maybe an MC? " type stuff. His stuff is all anti-drug and the lyrics are clean. So my son is happy and so am I!

    edited to add: here's that song: called
    Just the Two of Us:


    From the first time the doctor placed you in my arms
    I knew I'd meet death 'fore I'd let you meet harm
    Although questions arose in my mind, would I be man enough?
    Against wrong, choose right and be standin up
    From the hospital that first night
    Took a hour just ta get the car seat in right
    People drivin all fast, got me kinda upset
    Got you home safe, placed you in your basinette
    That night I don't think one wink I slept
    As I slipped out my bed, to your crib I crept
    Touched your head gently, felt my heart melt
    Cause I know I loved you more than life itself
    Then to my knees, and I begged the Lord please
    Let me be a good daddy, all he needs
    Love, knowledge, discipline too
    I pledge my life to you, uh

    Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
    Just the two of us,
    Just the two of us, building castles in the sky
    Just the two of us, you and I

    Five years old, bringing comedy
    Everytime I look at you I think man, a little me
    Just like me
    Wait an see gonna be tall
    Makes me laugh cause you got your dads ears an all
    Sometimes I wonder, what you gonna be?
    A General, a Doctor, maybe a MC
    Haha, I wanna kiss you all the time
    But I will test that butt when you cut outta line,
    trudat Uh-uh-uh why you do dat?
    I try to be a tough dad, but you be makin me laugh
    Crazy joy, when I see the eyes of my baby boy
    I pledge to you, I will always do
    Everything I can
    Show you how to be a man
    Dignity, integrity, honor an'
    An' I don't mind if you lose, long as you came with it
    An' you can cry, ain't no shame it it
    It didn't work out with me an your mom
    But yo, push come to shove
    You was conceived in love
    So if the world attacks, and you slide off track
    Remember one fact, I got your back

    Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
    Just the two of us,
    Just the two of us, building castles in the sky
    Just the two of us, you and I

    It's a full-time job to be a good dad
    You got so much more stuff than I had
    I gotta study just to keep with the changin times
    101 Dalmations on your CD-ROM
    See me-I'm
    Tryin to pretend I know
    On my PC where that CD go
    But yo, ain't nuthin promised, one day I'll be gone
    Feel the strife, but trust life does go wrong
    But just in case
    It's my place
    To impart
    One day some girl's gonna break your heart
    And ooh ain't no pain like from the opposite sex
    Gonna hurt bad, but don't take it out on the next, son
    Throughout life people will make you mad
    Disrespect you and treat you bad
    Let God deal with the things they do
    Cause hate in your heart will consume you too
    Always tell the truth, say your prayers
    Hold doors, pull out chairs, easy on the swears
    You're living proof that dreams come true
    I love you and I'm here for you, uh

    Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
    Just the two of us,
    Just the two of us, building castles in the sky
    Just the two of us, you and I

    Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
    Just the two of us,
    Just the two of us, building castles in the sky
    Just the two of us, you and I

    Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
    Just the two of us,
    Just the two of us, building castles in the sky
    Just the two of us, you and I



    And here's the link for more of his stuff:http://www.elyrics4u.com/artist/w/will_smith.htm
     
  14. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Last year the students in my daughter's Grade 6 class all needed to bring in the words of a favourite song to use in Literature Circles. The parents needed to sign the lyrics (giving our approbal for their use) and the teacher had final approval. The kids really enjoyed this activity, and I know that I'll be using it as well next year with my Grade 7 and 8 Special Ed students.
     
  15. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    Jul 4, 2006

    Will Smith!

    I didn't even think of him. That song you posted will definitely be going on the list!

    Thanks!

    ~J
     
  16. cwp873

    cwp873 Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2006

    How about Hotel California--Thee are parts of it I still don't "get" but love the song! Love to know how kids would interpret it!
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    You're welcome!

    It's so cute to hear Brian singing to himself
    "Always tell the truth, say your prayers
    Hold doors, pull out chairs, easy on the swears"

    Thank you Will Smith!!
     
  18. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jul 4, 2006

    Go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame web site. They have lesson plans! There are also tons of sites that give song lyrics, and our local library has a book Green Book of Songs by Subject which is very interesting.

    I let the kids choose their own songs . . . but that was back before rap was mainstream and the sex & drug references weren't as crude. One of the best ones I ever remember was a boy who got up to present his song and did a wonderful job of explaining why it WAS a poem (they could also explain why it WASN'T), gave us a literal meaning, and a figurative meaning. Right at the end of his figurative meaning, he paused, went completely white, and said, "Oh my God! That's also talking about sex!" He was, of course, correct . . . but I wouldn't have guessed he'd have picked up on it. He didn't elaborate, thankfully.

    I haven't done that unit since most of the kids are listening to those horribly vulgar songs. I tried taking in a list of songs kids had used in the past and ones that I enjoyed, but several are such die-hard fans of "their" music that that absolutely REFUSED to do listen to anything else. It wasn't worth the fight anymore.
     
  19. TexasAggie2323

    TexasAggie2323 Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2006

    We did something similiar when I was a freshman in high school almost 10 years ago. It was awesome, I love anything that students can relate with and music is one of those things that kids no matter the age can dig.

    I think Jeremy by Pearl Jam would be a good one.
     
  20. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    Jul 5, 2006

    Ima-

    Thanks so much for the idea!! What an awesome website! And really interesting lesson plans.

    I agree a lot of the songs kids listen to today are vulgar - but I'm still gonna try givin it a whirl to see if I can't get them to look outside the box.

    TexasAggie- I looked up Jeremy when I fist started looking and it has the F word (which I could just bleep) but it also has the part where he gnashes his teeth and bites the recess lady's br**st.

    LOL...like I said - it is harder then you'd originally think. :)

    ~J
     
  21. ktmays06

    ktmays06 Rookie

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    Jul 9, 2006

    I noticed your list did not include many female artists, and there are a few emerging (and veteran) female song writers out there that have very poetic lyrics. Look at Anna Nalik, Jewl (sp?), Sheryl Crow and Melissa Ethrigde (both who have songs that relate to their fights against cancer) and Natasha Bedlington. Some of Nalik's stuff flows like Eminem, but much, MUCH poppier, if that makes any sense.

    I also had a professor in college that had us listen to "All Along the Watch Tower" by both Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix (which, btw, is one of my all time favorite songs). We had to interpret how the time period each was recorded in changed its meaning, despite having the exact lyrics. I'm planning to use these for my poetry unit this year, and I love Mrs. Dub's idea about the Black Eyed Peas and Marvin Gaye together.

    I'm also going to throw out one other idea, but its quite different from everything else you have, but may appeal to students who favor "different" music. The band Clutch has a song called "The Yeti". It has great imagery, and its a heavier song, so it may appeal to other students. I'll put the lyrics at the bottom so you can see if you like it.

    Good Luck!

    Standing waist high in snow,
    what brought me here I do not know.
    Sky is filled with starry scenes
    of heroes and their greatest deeds.
    Satellites move across the sky,
    and every year they multiply.
    Father bear is sound asleep
    and will be so for several weeks.
    Across the plain I see a figure,
    every instant growing bigger.
    Instinct tells me to run away
    while faith proposes that I wave.
    He approaches to a rod.
    I whisper up a prayer to God.
    The stranger asks me with a grin,
    "Do you have the time my friend?"
    Himalaya is my old time stomping ground
    (oh yes, time is of the essence).
    Manitoba, better snows I've never found
    (oh yes, time is of the essence.)
    The author looms above his page
    and thinks it strange that at his age
    he can not find the proper words
    to describe his only world.
    One would think that in a life
    where no two snowflakes are alike
    one would have a brilliant rhyme
    for each and every bit of time.
    Himalaya is my old time stomping ground
    (oh yes, time is of the essence).
    Manitoba, better snows I've never found
    (oh yes, time is of the essence.)
     
  22. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    Jul 10, 2006

    You know - you're right! I haven't accurately represented female artists. I really should have been more in-tune with that. Thank you for being so observant - and I appreciate the suggestions.

    ~J
     
  23. Mrs_Goatess

    Mrs_Goatess Comrade

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    Jul 10, 2006

    Female artists/groups with decent lyrics: Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Alisha Keys (sp), Pink, Destiny's Child/Beyonce, Dar Williams (I doubt the kids know her, but she's excellent), Evenescence (sp). Nelly Furtado used to have good lyrics; the new stuff isn't so... meaningful. She might make a nice contrast.
     
  24. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Jul 10, 2006

    What about TLC's song about changing your body to look like something else...or really a lot of TLC's music. Some of Janet Jackson's censored for language songs.
     
  25. jd123

    jd123 Cohort

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    Jul 11, 2006

    It's an oldie, but I remember my English teacher playing Fleetwood Mac's Rhiannon to show us metaphores and similes.
     

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