Category Archives: Music

Does Music Speak to Your Values?

The Courage of Conviction: Social, Political, and Spiritual beliefs

The 1960s was a time when popular music—whether country, R&B, gospel, Motown or rock—spoke of themes such as overcoming adversity and the possibility of freedom and equality. Songs touched on messages about the hardships of racism, poverty, and the urban experience. During the Vietnam War, many songs were also written raising questions and calling for peace.

Composers of songs that addressed social issues took risks to express their values, as well as their social, political and spiritual beliefs through their music. Some songs were ignored by radio stations. Yet, some of these same songs from the 60s are still on the airwaves today and most of them have endured and been recorded on CD, and are widely available online (YouTube, iTunes, Play). Newly composed and recorded music still speaks to us on many of these social themes and concerns.

Listen and Respond

Think of a song that you enjoy today that you believe speaks of an important social issue, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Listen to it a few times, and reflect on the following questions. Write out your answers.

  1. What are lyrics from the song that stir emotions in you? Why? Record the lyrics that you believe are the most powerful or memorable below:
  2. How do you feel when you listen to this song?
  3. Why do you think the themes and messages in the song are important?
  4. Do you believe that a wide range of people, for many years to come, will be able to connect with the meaning of this song (in the way that people have connected with the meaning of “People Get Ready” for more than 40 years)? Why or why not?

Group Discussion

If possible, share your song (by playing it) with a group and have each person share the song that he or she chose for this activity. Talk about the messages in the songs. Tell each other what your answers were to the questions above.

Write a Post

Write a post about a song in which its composer addressed social issues and took risks to express their values – their social, political, and spiritual beliefs – through their music.

Inspiration:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/readers-poll-the-10-best-protest-songs-of-all-time-20141203/bob-dylan-blowin-in-the-wind-20141203

Try These:

Sweet Music (One of These Days)
Written by Alicia Keys
Produced by Alicia Keys and Kerry Brothers (as Kerry “Krucial” Brothers)
Performed by Alicia Keys

Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
Written by Stevie Wonder, Sylvia Moy, Henry Cosby
Performed by Stevie Wonder

Woo-Hoo
Written by George Donald McGraw
Performed by Rock-a-Teens (as Rock A-Teens)

Rave On
Written by Del ‘Sonny’ West (as Sunny West), Bill Tilghman, Norman Petty
Performed by Buddy Holly

Kaw Liga
Written by Hank Williams, Fred Rose
Performed by Hank Williams

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
Written by Hank Williams

If We Never Needed the Lord Before We Sure Do Need Him Now
Written by Thomas A. Dorsey

I Can’t Get Next to You
Written by Norman Whitfield (as Norman J. Whitfield), Barrett Strong
Performed by The Temptations

I’m Blue
AKA “The Gong Gong Song”
Written by Ike Turner
Performed by The Ikettes

Last Night
Written by Charles Axton, Chips Moman, Floyd Newman, Gilbert Caple, Jerry Lee ‘Smoochy’ Smith
Performed by The Mar-Keys

Shake It Up Baby (AKA Twist and Shout)
Written by Bert Berns, Phil Medley
Performed by The Isley Brothers

My Guy
Written by Smokey Robinson
Performed by Mary Wells

Function at the Junction
Written by Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.), Shorty Long (as Frederick Long)
Performed by Shorty Long

My Home is on the Delta
Written by Muddy Waters (as McKinley Morganfield)
Performed by Muddy Waters

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honeybunch)
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)

Can You Do It
Written by Richard Street, Thelma Gordy
Performed by The Contours

Burnt Biscuits
Written by Chips Moman, Booker T. Jones (as Booker T. Jones, Jr.)
Performed by The Triumphs

I’m on My Way to Canaan
Written and Performed by Mahalia Jackson

Baby Love
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)
Performed by The Supremes

Jordan River
Written by James Herndon
Performed by Shirley Cesar

Texas Fight
Written by Colonel Walter S. Hunnicutt, James E. King, Burnett “Blondie” Pharr

Green Onions
Written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg and Al Jackson Jr.
Performed by Booker T. & the M.G.s (as Booker T. and the MG’s)

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
Written by Otis Redding, Jerry Butler
Performed by Otis Redding

Ain’t That Good News
Written by James Cleveland
Performed by The Meditation Singers

El Paso
Written by Marty Robbins

Going to a Go-Go
Written by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin, Warren Moore, Bobby Rogers (as Robert Rogers)
Performed by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Shotgun
Written by Junior Walker (as Autry Dewalt)
Performed by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

You’re a Wonderful One
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edwards Holland, Jr.
Performed by Marvin Gaye

Get Ready
Written by Smokey Robinson
Performed by The Temptations

Ain’t That Peculiar
Written by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin, Warren Moore, Bobby Rogers (as Robert Rogers)
Performed by Marvin Gaye

Down in the Boondocks
Written by Joe South
Performed by Billy Joe Royal

Ballad of the Green Berets
Written by Barry Sadler (as Barry A. Sadler), Robin Moore
Performed by Barry Sadler (as Sgt. Barry Sadler)

Road Runner
(AKA “I’m a Road Runner”)
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)
Performed by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

Dancing in the Street
Written by Marvin Gaye (as Marvin P. Gaye), Ivy Jo Hunter, William Stevenson
Performed by Martha & The Vandellas

These Arms of Mine
Written and Performed by Otis Redding

People Get Ready
Written by Curtis Mayfield
Performed by The Impressions

Up All Night Blues
Written by Rick Garcia, Craig Eastman
Performed by The Raven Shadows

The Eyes of Texas
Written by John Lang Sinclair

On, On, U. of K.
(University of Kentucky)
Written by C.A. Lampert

People Get Ready
Written by Curtis Mayfield
Produced by Alicia Keys and Kerry Brothers (as Kerry “Krucial” Brothers)
Performed by Alicia Keys and Lyfe Jennings

I Will Make the Darkness Light
Written by Charles P. Jones
Produced by Alicia Keys and Trevor Rabin
Performed by Alicia Keys

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DJ

Imagine you have your own disc jockey show. Give yourself call numbers and a suitable cool disc jockey’s name. Name your show and write a segment of the show’s monologue. Include the names of the songs you will play.

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