Music and Arts
Search out at least four blues songs that you believe are meaningful and important in telling us something unique and important about the American experience. All four songs should concern a single subject or topic and, when taken collectively, should tell us something important about that topic and the American experience. As an example, Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” “Four Women,” “Old Jim Crow,” and “Mississippi Goddamn” (all on Four Women: The Nina Simone Phillips Recordings) tell us something important about being black in the American South (and if you haven’t listened to Nina Simone, you should). As another example, Liz Phair’s “F*ck And Run” (on Exile In Guyville) and Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” (on Between The Lines) are songs about what it is like to be a girl who doesn’t believe that she will ever find love in America. Both Phair and Ian tell us something important about what the American experience is for such girls and also about how American values affect the lives of some young women in our society.
The songs don’t have to be traditional blues songs (they could be country or rock and roll or jazz or even mainstream pop songs). However if they are not traditional blues songs, you should be able to explain why you think they qualify as blues.
Make a list of the songs you select and their artists and include this list at the start of your paper. Your paper should be an explanation (700 words minimum) that then focuses on the following:
What do these songs tell us about some important aspect of the American experience? Try not select topics that are too general and broad (As example: “Love.” Although “Love” is the focus of many blues songs, it is too general a topic. “The Pain of Being Young and Unloved in Contemporary America” would be more workable.). Compare and contrast the songs that you pick. Let the reader know how each song contributes to your argument and why you think they are meaningful examples.
Then tell the reader why the songs and topic you have selected tell us something that’s important for us to hear or know about. What do we learn about the American experience from these songs?
Cite 3 outside sources for support and frame your argument in the form of a formal essay. Two sources have to be online and provided with accessible links. One source could be from a book or online.
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