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Magical Musical Tour (part 3)

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Lesson 7: Conflict

Have students get out their Literary Elements and Terminology Handout and discuss conflict. Emphasize the difference between internal and external conflict. Make sure that students understand that every story has a conflict and that identifying the conflict will help them find the theme.

  • Play Fast Car once through, displaying the lyrics, asking students to identify at least two conflicts in the song and what types of conflict they are. Play the song again, with the commentary lyrics displayed and discuss.
  • Play Someday and have students work in pairs to identify conflicts. Compare them to the conflicts in Fast Car.
  • Play Don't You Want Me? and ask students to identify the conflict in this song.
  • Bring out the differences between the conflicts in the songs.
  • Play Breaking us in Two by Joe Jackson, comparing the conflict in it with Higher Love by Steve Winwood.
  • Discuss songs in terms of conflict, using chart.
  • For assessment, display lyrics and play Please Come to Boston. Have students identify the internal and external conflicts.

Notes

  • This is a good element to assign students to find their own examples in songs they listen to.
  • Point out that although they are not required to be able to identify it, song lyrics and poems are common places in literature that you find the second person narrative voice ("you").

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

You got a fast car.
I want a ticket to anywhere.
Maybe we make a deal.
Maybe together we can get somewhere.

Any place is better.
Starting from zero got nothing to lose.
Maybe we'll make something.
But me myself I got nothing to prove.

You got a fast car.
I got a plan to get us out of here.
I've been working at the convenience store.
Managed to save just a little bit of money.
Won't have to drive too far —
just 'cross the border and into the city.
You and I can both get jobs,
and fin'lly see what it means to be living.

See, my old man's got a problem.
He lives with the bottle, that's the way it is.
He says his body's too old for working.
His body's too young to look like his.
My mama went off and left him.
She wanted more from life than he could give.
I said, "Somebody's got to take care of him."
So I quit school, and that's what I did.

You got a fast car.
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision.
We leave tonight or live and die this way.

'Cause I remember when we were driving, driving in your car,
speed so fast I felt like I was drunk.
City lights lay out before us —
and your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder.
And I had a feeling that I belonged.
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.

You got a fast car.
We go cruising to entertain ourselves.
You still ain't got a job,
and I work in the market as a checkout girl.
I know things will get better —
You'll find work and I'll get promoted.
We'll move out of the shelter,
buy a big house and live in the suburbs.

'Cause I remember when we were driving, driving in your car,
speed so fast I felt like I was drunk.
City lights lay out before us —
and your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder.
And I had a feeling that I belonged.
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.

You got a fast car.
I got a job that pays all our bills.
You stay out drinking late at the bar,
see more of your friends than you do of your kids.
I'd always hoped for better
thought maybe together you and me'd find it.
I got no plans; I ain't going nowhere,
so take your fast car and keep on driving.

'Cause I remember when we were driving, driving in your car,
speed so fast I felt like I was drunk.
City lights lay out before us —
and your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder.
And I had a feeling that I belonged.
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.

You got a fast car.
But is it fast enough so you can fly away?

You gotta make a decision:
you leave tonight or live and die this way.

The repetition of the image of the fast car in the song is what we call a "motif." It repeats itself over and over, changing purposes through the song. We saw this to some extent in The Dance. What is the role of the car here? How does it change through the song? How does she see the car at first? How does that change by the end of the song?

 

Someday by Steve Earle

There ain't a lot that you can do in this town.
You drive down to the lake, and then you turn back around.
You go to school, and you learn to read and write,
so you can walk into the county bank and sign away your life.

Now I work at the fillin' station on the Interstate.
I'm pumpin' gasoline and countin' out-of-state plates.

They ask me, "How far into Memphis, son," and, "Where's the nearest beer?"
And they don't even know that there's a town around here.

Someday I'm finally gonna let go,
'cause I know there's a better way.
And I wanna know what's over that rainbow.
I'm gonna get out of here someday.

Now my brother went to college 'cause he played football.
But I'm still hangin' round 'cause I'm a little bit small.
But I got me a '67 Chevy, she's low and sleek and black.
Someday I'll put her on that interstate and never look back.

Someday I'm finally gonna let go,
'cause I know there's a better way.
And I wanna know what's over that rainbow.
I'm gonna get out of here someday.

Do you think he is going to do it? Is 'gonna' a promise kind of word?

 

Don't You Want Me? by The Human League

You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
when I met you.
I picked you out, I shook you up, and turned you around —
turned you into someone new.
Now, five years later on you've got the world at your feet.
Success has been so easy for you.
But don't forget it's me who put you where you are now,
and I can put you back down, too.

(Chorus)
Don't, don't you want me?
You know I can't believe it when I hear that you won't see me.
Don't, don't you want me?
You know I don't believe you when you say that you don't need me.
It's much too late to find
you think you've changed your mind.
You'd better change it back, or we will both be sorry.

Don't you want me baby? Don't you want me? Oh
Don't you want me baby? Don't you want me? Oh

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar,
that much is true.
But even then I knew I'd find a much better place,
either with or without you.
The five years we have had have been such good times.
I still love you.
But now I think it's time I lived my life on my own.
I guess it's just what I must do.

(Chorus)

Don't you want me baby? Don't you want me? Oh
Don't you want me baby? Don't you want me? Oh

After Fast Car, the conflict here should be easy to identify. How do the two people in the song see the conflict differently? Is it common to see both sides of a conflict in a song? Is the male narrator in love and desperate, or is he threatening her? How far apart are those things?

 

Higher Love by Steve Winwood

Think about it: there must be higher love
down in the heart or hidden in the stars above.
Without it, life is wasted time.
Look inside your heart, I'll look inside mine.
Things look so bad everywhere. In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind, and we try to see.
Falling behind in what could be.

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where's that higher love I keep thinking of?

Worlds are turning, and we're just hanging on,
facing our fear and standing out there alone.
A yearning, and it's real to me.
There must be someone who's feeling for me.

Things look so bad everywhere.
In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind and we try to see.
Falling behind in what could be.

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where's that higher love I keep thinking of?

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring be a higher love
I could rise above on a higher love.

I will wait for it.
I'm not too late for it.

Until then, I'll sing my song
to cheer the night along.
Bring it… oh bring it…

I could light the night up with my soul on fire.
I could make the sun shine from pure desire.
Let me feel that love come over me.
Let me feel how strong it could be.

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where's that higher love I keep thinking of?

Lesson 8: Setting

Ask if any of the students have ever watched Survivor. Ask if they think the show would be as interesting if it were set in the some small town in the middle of nowhere with a Walmart and nothing else. Would they be interested in "Survivor: Walmart Edition?" Discuss the ways in which the setting is crucial. Would it be different if parent lost a child in the halls of this school versus losing him in the middle of the Sahara desert? Why?

Explain that setting is the world in which the story exists. It is the place, the time, the culture, and the environment in which a story occurs.

Some authors describe the setting with a lot of detail, and others let the reader find out about the setting in bits and pieces.

Frequently in music there is a setting for the song. Explain that you are going to play a song about a place, and you want them to look for things in the song that are specific to the setting.

  • Play Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn. Count the number of things the students recorded.
  • Show the commentary lyrics that have the clues underlined and compare the clues detected, discussing the types of details he uses to describe Memphis. Ask if this is what everyone who lived in Memphis would emphasize (blues, music, etc.). Explain that the same setting can be seen in different ways by different people.
  • Play I Love L.A. by Randy Newman and then play Lullaby by Shawn Mullins. Discuss the different ways they see the same place. What details do they use to support their views of the same town?
  • Have students write a description of their town or school that is positive (in the vein of I Love L.A.) and then one that is negative like Lullaby.

Note

  • You can pair this lesson with a comparison reading of a traditional version of Cinderella and a reading of The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo. The settings can be compared and discussed.

Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn

Put on my blue suede shoes, and I boarded the plane.
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain W.C. Handy, won't you look down over me? Yeah, I got a first class ticket, but I'm as blue as a boy can be.

Then I'm walking in Memphis,
just walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale.
Walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?

Saw the ghost of Elvis on Union Avenue.
Followed him up to the gates of Graceland,
then I watched him walk right through.
Now security they did not see him.
They just hovered 'round his tomb.
But there's a pretty little thing waiting for the King down in the Jungle Room.

Then I'm walking in Memphis,
just walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale.
Walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?

They've got catfish on the table, they've got gospel in the air
and Reverend Green be glad to see you when you haven't got a prayer.
But, boy, you've got a prayer in Memphis.

Now Muriel plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood.
And they brought me down to see her
and they asked me if I would do a little number.
And I sang with all my might, and she said, "Tell me are you a Christian, child?"
And I said, "Ma'am, I am tonight."

Then I'm walking in Memphis,
just walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale.
Walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?
(repeat)

Put on my blue suede shoes, and I boarded the plane…
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
in the middle of the pouring rain…
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
in the middle of the pouring rain…

 

I Love L.A./cite> by Randy Newman

Hate New York City.
It's cold and it's damp,
and all the people dressed like monkeys.
Let's leave Chicago to the Eskimos.
That town's a little bit too rugged
For you and me, you bad girl…

Rollin' down the Imperial Highway,
with a big nasty redhead at my side,
Santa Ana wind blowin' hot from the north,
and we was born to ride.

Roll down the window, put down the top,
crank up the Beach Boys, baby,
don't let the music stop.
We're gonna ride it till we just can't ride it no more.

From the South Bay to the Valley,
from the West Side to the East Side,
everybody's very happy,
'Cause the sun is shining all the time.
Looks like another perfect day.
I love L.A. (We love it)
I love L.A. (We love it)

Look at that mountain!
Look at those trees!
Look at that bum over there, man, he's down on his knees.
Look at these women!
There ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere.

Century Boulevard! (We love it)
Victory Boulevard! (We love it)
Santa Monica Boulevard! (We love it)
Sixth Street! (We love it, we love it)
We love L.A.
(We Love It)
I Love L.A.
(We Love It)
I Love L.A.
(We Love It)

 

Lullaby by Shawn Mullins

She grew up with the children of the stars in the Hollywood Hills and the Boulevard.
Her parents threw big parties, everyone was there.
They hung out with folks like Dennis Hopper, and Bob Seeger, and Sonny and Cher.

Now, she feels safe in this bar on Fairfax, and from the stage I can tell
that she can't let go and she can't relax.
And just before she hangs her head to cry,
I sing to her a lullaby.

I sing…

"Everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.
Everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye."

She still lives with her mom outside the city, down that street about a half a mile.
And all her friends tell her she's so pretty,
but she'd be a whole lot prettier if she smiled once in a while.
`Cause even her smile looks like a frown.
Yeah, she's seen her share of devils in this angel town.

Everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye
everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye

I told her, "I ain't so sure about this place.
It's hard to play a gig in this town and keep a straight face.
Seems like everyone here's got a plan.
It's kind of like Nashville with a tan, but,

Everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.
Everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

Everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.
Everything's gonna be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye."

Lesson 9: Characterization

Use the Characterization Handout through the course of this lesson as an analysis tool. You may also wish to use the Character Analysis Printable.

Play Brandy, and discuss the two characters in the song. Who is the protagonist? Who or what is the antagonist? Who do we sympathize with? Are the characters flat or round? Are they static or dynamic?

Play Richard Cory, and give students time to analyze the characters (both the narrator and Richard Cory) using their notes. Emphasize how the narrator is a foil to Cory.

Note

  • This would be a good lesson to have students find a song of their own that describes a character and have them analyze it using the handout for guidance (answering some of the same questions discussed in class).

Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass

There's a port on a western bay,
and it serves a hundred ships a day.
Lonely sailors pass the time away,
and talk about their homes

And there's a girl in this harbor town,
and she works, laying whiskey down.
They say, "Brandy, fetch another round."
She serves them whiskey and wine.

The sailors say, "Brandy, you're a fine girl.
What a good wife you would be.
Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea."

Brandy wears a braided chain
made of finest silver from the north of Spain,
a locket that bears the name
of a man that Brandy loved.

He came on a summer's day — bringing gifts from far away.
But he made it clear he couldn't stay; no harbor was his home.
The sailor said, "Brandy, you're a fine girl.
What a good wife you would be.
But my life, my lover, my lady, is the sea."

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes when he told his sailor's story.
She could feel the ocean fall and rise; she saw its raging glory.
But he had always told the truth,
Lord, he was an honest man,
and Brandy does her best to understand.

At night, when the bars close down,
Brandy walks through a silent town,
and loves a man who's not around.
She still can hear him say — she hears him say,

"Brandy, you're a fine girl.
What a good wife you would be.
But my life, my lover, my lady, is the sea."

"Brandy, you're a fine girl
What a good wife you would be.
But my life, my lover, my lady, is the sea."

 

Richard Cory by Simon & Garfunkel

They say that Richard Cory owns one half of this whole town,
with political connections to spread his wealth around.
Born into society, a banker's only child,
he had everything a man could want: power, grace, and style.

But I work in his factory, and I curse the life I'm living,
and I curse my poverty,
and I wish that I could be,
oh, I wish that I could be,
oh, I wish that I could be
Richard Cory.

The papers print his picture almost everywhere he goes:
Richard Cory at the opera! Richard Cory at a show!
And the rumor of his parties, and the orgies on his yacht!
Oh, he surely must be happy with everything he's got.

But I work in his factory, and I curse the life I'm living,
and I curse my poverty,
and I wish that I could be,
oh, I wish that I could be,
oh, I wish that I could be
Richard Cory.

He freely gave to charity; he had the common touch.
And they were grateful for his patronage, and they thanked him very much.
So my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read:

"Richard Cory went home last night,
and put a bullet through his head."

But I work in his factory, and I curse the life I'm living,
and I curse my poverty,
and I wish that I could be,
oh, I wish that I could be, oh, I wish that I could be
Richard Cory.

We learn about Richard Cory only from the narrator. He himself never speaks nor describes himself. How does that influence how well we can understand the character?

 

Continue to Part Four (Lessons 10-12)