music as social action ::
As we wrap our initial theory dissection and begin turning toward a relatively chronological view of topical-music history in the United States, here are a couple of accessible pieces that make good introductions to this work: (1) the story of "John Henry," one of the most popular American folk songs, and (2) an account of when it was always hammer time in folk music.
Participation! In regard to the first piece, about John Henry — Think of a pop song you know and/or like that tells a story about a fictional character. (Examples: "Eleanor Rigby," "Major Tom," "Mr. Wendal," "St. Jimmy," or, relevant to us next week, Nina Simone's "Four Women"!) What is the story and theme of the song? Why did the author(s) choose to relate a fictional character instead of a real person? What work does a literary narrative do that a documentary account couldn't?
4/17/2019 03:49:16 pm
A song that I like that is about fictional characters is "When the Day Met the Night" by Panic! at the Disco. The song is telling a love story about the sun and the moon falling in love. I think the authors chose fictional characters because theres an aspect to it that makes it seem more romantic than just talking about real people. Additionally, I think it lets more people relate to the song, because although the song genders the sun and the moon, its much more ambiguous than names like Jane and Tom. I think literary narrative makes the song more applicable/relatable to a wider audience than documentary accounts could. Additionally, I feel like sometimes people enjoy fictional stories more as it is like an escape from reality.
4/18/2019 09:19:18 pm
"Gloria" by Van Morrison is about a girl who comes around at night for sexual activities (or so we can infer). The name Gloria could have been chosen both because of the iconic, anthemic, and catchy section where G-L-O-R-I-A is spelled out in the chorus and also because Gloria and sexual "glory" could be synonymous. If "Gloria"was based on a real person, it could be awkward since the song is about sex ~ however, by having a faceless, named girl it allows the listener to listen more freely or perhaps imagine what they think Gloria could look like.
4/18/2019 10:39:13 pm
A song I am particularly fond of that tells a story of a fictional character is called "The General" by Dispatch. It is about a war general who has a dream about the war he is about to lead his men into and realizes that "this fight is not worth fighting" and tells the men to all go home, "you are young men you must be living". The message is about how war in the end is a loosing battle and just takes away the youth and lives of young men. He tells the men to go home and that he would go to battle alone. The song being generalized through a fictional character makes it more able to applied to multiple situations, making it simply "anti-war" and about every general. It gives people the ability to picture it in their minds and interpret it the way they see fit, and even relate to it more.
4/19/2019 10:05:39 am
I've always enjoy the song "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. This song discusses the life of a busy father who works constantly, hardly making time for his son. His son often would say "I'm gonna be like you, dad / You know I'm gonna be like you." Later into the song, we realize that the son has turned into a workaholic like his father, so he is "too busy" to keep a strong relationship with him. I think this song was written like this in order to make it more relatable to listeners. One can put themselves in the shoes of one of the unnamed characters and realize that they should spend more time appreciating their loved ones. This song perfectly balances the beauty of a song and the importance of this message, without trying too hard to get the point across. It relays the meaning in a very simple way that wrenches your heart.
4/19/2019 11:20:10 am
“Lilian”is a song produced by a Chinese country singer Song, Dongye. Song tells the media Lilian is one of his friend who had schizophrenia. At first, Lilian split her self into two character a boy and a girl. They are a couple and they love each other. But one day, the boy miss his way home, so the girl is finding her boyfriend all the time. Then, the girl tells others, if they find this boy, please let him know that Lilian (the girl) is always waiting him at home. As the lyric states: “If you see him on the shore, "Please tell him your name…And my name, is Lillian."
4/22/2019 02:29:35 pm
In John Denver's "Matthew," he sings about his uncle Matthew, even though he never had an uncle Matthew. Instead, he tells Matthew's story as a tribute to his uncle Dean. He creates the fictional Matthew to honor good, simple people. Matthew lost his family to a natural disaster and then moved to his nephew's farm. This form of fictional storytelling was beneficial to Denver because his uncle actually died in a car crash at 21, yet the connections they made before his death were valuable to Denver. He sings about the positive story of hard-working Matthew, who focuses on family values, simplicity of living in the country, and seeing joy and love in the small things, such as the blue of the "Kansas summer sky."
4/23/2019 11:41:04 pm
The song"Jolene," by Dolly Parton, describes a woman whose intentions were to seduce Parton's man. Jolene is based on an experience Parton faced when a bank clerk was flirting with her husband, but it is not her real name. Parton describes Jolene's beauty throughout the song, and begs for her not to steal away her man. Parton explains that Jolene could have any man she wishes to have and anguishes on why Jolene is fixated on her husband. I believe Parton created this character because she wants the audience to be able to relate to feeling insecure in a relationship. Parton is relating to every person who believes that their happiness is dependent on their partner and would be devastated if someone else were to whisk away their partner. This song makes the listener sympathize with Parton because they most likely have been threatened by the thought of someone better coming along for their significant other.
5/3/2019 03:10:48 pm
A song that uses a fiction charterer is the song "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson. Billie Jean was an autobiographical song, referring to someone who claimed Jackson was the father of her child. He sung that song because he said there were a lot of Billie Jeans out there to claim things.
10/15/2022 09:31:43 pm
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