Song Assignment

For this assignment, you will need to select a song performed and recorded between January 1, 1960 and December 31, 1972. The term “popular song” does not refer to sales but to the type of song. The dictionary defines it as “appealing to the popular taste, including rock and pop and also soul, country, reggae, rap, and dance music.” The term excludes what is usually called “classical” music. So do not worry about whether the song you choose made it to the Top 100 Billboard charts and such.

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The song you choose has to relate to the history we have been studying in this course. You will write a one paragraph answer to this question:

How does the song you have chosen reflect the ideas, opinions, and writings of people involved in the movements we have been studying?

These are the civil rights, black power, anti-Vietnam War, counterculture, and feminist movements. Your paragraph should start with a topic sentence that summarizes your judgment about the song’s relationship to these movements. The rest of the paragraph needs to discuss particular words or ideas in the song that relate to one or more of the movements. In this assignment, you may include quotations, but they must come from the song only. Commonly historians only quote sources when they want to discuss the particular words or phrases that an author uses, so it is appropriate for this assignment to quote from the song. Otherwise, you are to write the rest of the paragraph entirely in your own words. Your paragraph must be at least five sentences in length, including the topic sentence. Please remember to:

  • Put your name at the top of your paper

  • Type your paper double-spaced

  • Mention the title of the song and the performer (an individual or a group) in a title at the top of the paper or in the body of the paragraph

  • Papers that include passages plagiarised from the Internet, another student’s paper, or any other source will receive a zero (no credit). Do not use reverences or quotations.

  • You must also submit a copy of your song in MP3 format to me as an attachment to an e-mail, so that we can listen to it in class. Below is a list of songs from which you can choose if you like. Feel free to choose songs not on this list that fit the criteria at the beginning of the assignment sheet. Also, bring a copy of the lyrics to class with you; you do not need to make copies of the lyrics or send them to me in advance.

“We Shall Overcome”

Aretha Franklin, “Respect”

Beatles, “Can’t Buy Me Love”

Beatles, “Let It Be”

Beatles, “Nowhere Man”

Beatles, “The Fool on the Hill”

Bob Dylan, “Ballad of Hattie Carroll”

Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind”

Bob Dylan, “Only a Pawn in Their Game”

Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A- Changing”

Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”

Byrds, “Ballad of Easy Rider”

Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn”

Country Joe and the Fish, “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag”

Creedance Clearwater Revival, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, “Ohio”

Possible Songs

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, “Southern Man”

Doors, “Unknown Soldier”

Edward Starr, “War”

James Brown, “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing”

James Brown, “I’m Black and I’m Proud” Jefferson Airplane, “Volunteers” Jefferson Airplane, “White Rabbit”
Jimi Hendrix, “Machine Gun”

Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock”

Marvin Gaye, “What’s Goin’ On”

Pete Seeger, “Waist Deep in Big Muddy”

Phil Ochs, “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”

Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come”

Sly and the Family Stone, “Everyday People”

Tom Paxton, “Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation” 


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