THEMATIC LESSON: LOVE SONGS
Why is the Pop song such a common medium for expressing feelings about love, and how do individual songs relate to their historical moments?
The love song has been around for thousands of years and existed in virtually every culture: fragments of love songs and lyric poetry etched on papyrus and carved in stone survive from ancient Greece and Egypt. Medieval troubadours perfected the art of writing and singing about idealized love. Opera composers dramatized romance in music. Amorous parlor songs played a role in courtships.
And of course, love songs are a fixture in contemporary musical culture. By most estimates, they have made up the majority of songs on the popularity charts throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. Musicians working in every major genre of American popular music—including Folk, Jazz, Pop, Country, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock and Roll — have produced songs about love. The variety of themes is similarly broad, encompassing many different aspects of and perspectives on relationships, from loss and longing to hope and dreaming.
Rock and Roll love songs inherit much from their historical predecessors, but they also demonstrate how cultural ideas about love, sex, and relationships change over time. New musical styles present opportunities to approach an old subject in new ways, and the sometimes raucous sounds of Rock and Roll made entirely new types of songs about love possible.
In this lesson, students will listen to examples of love songs from several musical styles and historical moments. The activities are designed to explore how music and lyrics work together to express different sentiments toward love and relationships.
Video pages: Led Zeppelin - Communication Breakdown (1969) | Patti Page - With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming (1959) | The Flamingos - Would I Be Crying (1956) | Dion DiMucci - Music as a Way Out | Lesley Gore - You Don't Own Me (1963)
Be able to (skills):
I can't be lying
Can't you see that I'm crying
Would be I crying
If I were lying to you
My heart is about to break
I regret making my mistake
My love for you burns the same
And my tears can't put out the flame
Hey, girl, I got something I think you ought to know.
Hey, babe, I wanna tell you that I love you so.
I wanna hold you in my arms, yeah!
I’m never gonna let you go, ’cause I like your charms.
Ask students to write their own love song lyrics, using the songs in this lesson as models. First students must decide who will be speaking and to whom or what the song will be addressed (a boyfriend/girlfriend, family member, friend, pet, even a place). After writing the lyrics, they should write a short description of the music they imagine might deliver the message of the song: is it loud or soft? Fast or slow? What instruments might the musicians use?
College and Career Readiness Reading Anchor Standards for Grades 6-12 for Literature and Informational Text
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening for Grades 6-12
Core Music Standard: Responding
Select: Choose music appropriate for a specific purpose or context.
Analyze: Analyze how the structure and context of varied musical works inform the response.
Interpret: Support interpretations of musical works that reflect creators' and/or performers' expressive intent.
Evaluate: Support evaluations of musical works and performances based on analysis, interpretation, and established criteria.
Core Music Standard: Connecting
Connecting 11: Relate musical ideas and works to varied contexts and daily life to deepen understanding.