Just moments ago a student enrolled in my “Bebop to Hip Hop” class sent me an email that gave me another reason to have hope amid the difficult headlines in recent months and even hours. He gave me permission to share his email below.
Some background before I continue: The students were assigned to present a playlist of songs that describe what they are feeling on the eve of a pivotal Presidential election. No essays. No mix tapes. Just song titles, artist names and a title for the playlist.
It’s been 50 years since Dionne Warwick told us via song the world needed love. Now. Here is a student, one among many I have the pleasure of teaching (or trying to teach) at Alabama, still saying the same thing.
In reply, I say “Roll Tide!” as we press on hopefully embracing such a thought.
Thank you, Clint, for that reminder. PS If I could add to Clint’s mix, my on-heavy-rotation contribution would be Incognito’s “Don’t You Worry About A Thing.”
Dear Dr. Green,
Just emailing you to let you know that my state of the world mix is done and turned in. The example you posted on Blackboard was just a list of songs with a checklist below it. That’s what I’ve turned in, but I don’t feel quite right leaving it at just that. So I figured I would give you a little more in this email.
In what is easily the weirdest election year we’ve had in a while people are naturally getting antsy over how it will turn out. I think, however, that it is important to realize that, besides our political differences, we are really all the same. I think the attitudes with which we approach each other should reflect that. So my mix is titled “Election Year and the Art of Loving.” It starts out full of youthful political angst with Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of.” The next song, the Scorpions’ “We’ll Burn the Sky,” was written by the woman who was dating Jimi Hendrix at the time of his death. I figured this would be a potent addition, not just because we talked about Hendrix in class, but also he somewhat symbolizes the hippie’s dream of world peace, which is all but dead given the circumstances of this election. The music follows this pattern until close to the end, with the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” This song is about how revolutions don’t really seem to change society much (we can hear echos of the old saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same”). The list culminates with the Beatles’ “Revolution,” which is about trying to approach social change from a place of love instead of anger.
One song in particular I really want to talk about is “Hopes and Dreams.” This is from the soundtrack from a video game called Undertale. Besides being my personal favorite video game, I think Undertale has an important role to play in this messy postwar narrative we see with the 2016 election. Everyone is either vehemently defending their chosen candidate or choosing not to vote out of fear of invoking the wrath of their peers. But Undertale teaches us that love is the most important aspect of humanity. You “win” the game by consistently turning the other cheek and showing your enemies mercy instead of defeating them through physical combat, like in most video games. (Look at me! I found the postwar story in a video game!)
I also included a recent cover of Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya?” by the band Living Colour. The music video for this song was released in response to the recent killings of black youths by white cops over the course of the past couple of years. Also included as a bonus track is John Lennon’s timeless “Imagine.” This song is about a world without boundaries of nation, race, faith, or class living in harmony. I figured this would be the perfect track to close my mix with, because we are living in arguably the most divided time of our nation’s history, and no one is happy.
At any rate, that was what was going through my head as I was putting the playlist together. Sorry this email was so long, but there is a lot more stuff going on here than just this. Thank you for being patient with me.
See you on Wednesday!