Teaching the Meaning of LyricsDo we know what our kids are listening to? More importantly, do we know what we are listening to? Two of my favourite bands have released singles lately and both I respect for the content of their songs as well as their musicianship. Pearl Jam released a second single from their latest album titled, “Sirens” and I heard a dj say it is supposed to be some of the best lyrics Eddie Vedder has written in the past ten years. Here it is
So what makes the lyrics so good? I’ll save the interpretation for another post because the question I want to ask is, are we aware of what we are listening to? As a teacher/parent, are we aware of the lyrics our kids might be singing along to?
If you think this doesn’t matter and you “just like the tune” ask yourself if you would be okay if your ten year old was singing along to the latest Bruno Mars single being overplayed on the radio.
Ooh I got a body full of liquor
With a cocaine kicker
And I’m feeling like I’m thirty feet tall
So lay it down, lay it down
You got your legs up in the sky
With the devil in your eyes
Let me hear you say you want it all
Say it now, say it now
You and me baby making love like gorillas
Maybe he’s making some deep commentary on an overly sexualized culture but one thing this guy does well is write a catchy tune. The point is we need to take a moment to listen to what musicians are trying to say. If we listen without reflection we are being passive the same as if we watch mindless tv reality shows or most other main network shows for that matter.
You might now think that kids can really engage with what they are listening to but last year I did a project with Grade 8s that had them choose a music video, analyze the lyrics and present to the class. I was amazed at what they came up with. I expected quite a few One Direction/Justin Bieber songs with shallow lyrics set to catchy music but what I got was a variety of deep, meaningful songs that kids wrestled with even if they did not fully understand them. This is now a staple exercise in class throughout the year. I love it when a plan comes together and exceeds expectations.
So listen to what your kids listen to. Be an active audience and teach your kids to do the same.
Here’s a new Coldplay song to chew on