New Location/ Music (HUM470)

Against all expectation we’ve managed to secure a new room with better media equipment. Our new classroom is in HUM 286. We’ll meet there on Tuesday. Pass the word along if you see anyone from class.

Also, I’d like you to submit a youtube clip of a track that you think constitutes an example of life narrative to the comments section of this post. Paula and Monica have already done so. Paula’s choice reminds me of my grandfather, who had an old 8-track cassette with this song on it:

“A Boy Named Sue” was written by Shel Silverstein, the author of The Giving Tree, and recorded by Johnny Cash at a concert at San Quentin Prison.

Monica sent Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone”:

The name of the band, of course, comes from a PE teacher– a notorious hard-ass named Leonard Skinner– at their high school. It seems difficult to separate LS’s songs from the fate of the band who wrote and performed them. The “real,” objective world they lived in– and the plane crash that killed Ronnie VanZandt and Steve Gains– tend to intrude into the recorded music, influencing its significance.

27 thoughts on “New Location/ Music (HUM470)

  1. Mari

    This is from the broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” by Trey Parker, Matt Stone (South Park) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q). It’s this hilarious, blasphemous, politically incorrect musical about two young Mormons on their mission to a small village in Uganda. They’re trying to convert as many people into the church by singing this song about the story of Joseph Smith. The Lyrics are in the video. One is incorrect that being the line “Joseph was shocked by an angry mob…” It’s actually “shot.” Hopefully I embedded this correctly. If so, enjoy, it’s pretty funny ^_^.

  2. Faith

    99 problems//Jay Z,

    It’s a classic, a title also reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s “Johnny 99,” though could be coincidental- yet it should at least be noted that both songs touch on the issues of being a part of a margianalized community- and the socio-economic pressures that come with it.

    Based on our discussions about what establishes an autobiography, “99 Problems” fits the somewhat lax criteria- not entirely dependent on concrete “truth,” but a narrative composed of experiences and it’s meaning as interpreted by memory and creative license. If one were to observe the lyrics [ http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/jayz/99problems.html ] on a spectrum of truth, I’d argue that verse two is probably more so fiction, though used as a narrative device to illustrate a a situation in which Jay Z’s unique perspective and attitude is loudly present. Jay Z is aware of his archetypal autobiographical story, as he references “rags to riches” and appears to be speaking directly to the listener, though it’s his anti-authoratative voice and persona, not the sole construct of plot or fact, that makes this story worth listening to.

  3. Tash

    This is a song from Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Richard Hell, one of the pioneers of punk rock, had a way of incorporating poetry into his song-writing and performance. Although this song isn’t in chronological order of his life, lyrics such as “I was saying let me out of here before I was even born, it’s such a gamble when you get a face,” and “Triangles were falling at the window as the doctor cursed/ He was a cartoon long forsaken by the public eye/ The nurse adjusted her garters as I breathed my first/ The doctor grabbed my throat and yelled, ‘God’s consolation prize!” suggest Richard’s feeling about who he was since his moment of birth.

  4. Sarah

    This is “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. The tragic emotion of the song is conveyed through somewhat ambiguous, yet obviously painful memories of the narrator, both past and present. Unlike many of the “drug life narratives” which have an optimistic recovering point, this song leaves the audience feeling hopeless about the future of the narrator. Perhaps the narrator will overdose, commit suicide, live life hopelessly alone and miserable. The context for this song is key, as Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” is depressing, but the narrative takes on new meaning. Below I have attached the links to both songs and the lyrics. I hope you enjoy.


    “Hurt”

    I hurt myself today
    To see if I still feel
    I focus on the pain
    The only thing that’s real
    The needle tears a hole
    The old familiar sting
    Try to kill it all away
    But I remember everything

    What have I become?
    My sweetest friend
    Everyone I know
    Goes away in the end
    You could have it all
    My empire of dirt
    I will let you down
    I will make you hurt

    I wear this crown of shit
    Upon my liar’s chair
    Full of broken thoughts
    I cannot repair
    Beneath the stains of time
    The feelings disappear
    You are someone else
    I am still right here

    What have I become?
    My sweetest friend
    Everyone I know
    Goes away in the end

    You could have it all
    My empire of dirt
    I will let you down
    I will make you hurt
    If I could start again
    A million miles away
    I would keep myself
    I would find a way

  5. Ryan Brown

    this music video is of rising electronic music artist Dillon Francis from L.A. The song is entitled “IDGAFOS”. He is the first artist to create his own personal sound that combines traditional moombahton and modern dubstep. In the video he talks about himself in first person in an interview from the beginnings of his rise to fame, to where he is now. He puts on a facade of a bourgeois like figure for the interview. He is shown in his free time enjoying himself, doing his job producing music, and at shows all around the world. You get to see his life on the road unravel in chronological order.

  6. Ritz

    Dear Mama by Tupac was the first song to come to mind when I thought of a life narrative. It told the story of his troubles as a child with school and the police, the absence of his father, his family’s financial crisis, his mothers addiction as well as his mothers unconditional (tough) love and strength for her family. Throughout his entire life, he stressed out his mother with suspensions from school, visits to jail and a stubborn head. Now, he looks back at everything his mom has been through and expresses that he “finally understands.”

    “Dear Mama”

    You are appreciated

    [Verse One: 2Pac]

    When I was young me and my mama had beef
    Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets
    Though back at the time, I never thought I’d see her face
    Ain’t a woman alive that could take my mama’s place
    Suspended from school; and scared to go home, I was a fool
    with the big boys, breakin all the rules
    I shed tears with my baby sister
    Over the years we was poorer than the other little kids
    And even though we had different daddy’s, the same drama
    When things went wrong we’d blame mama
    I reminice on the stress I caused, it was hell
    Huggin on my mama from a jail cell
    And who’d think in elementary?
    Heeey! I see the penitentiary, one day
    And runnin from the police, that’s right
    Mama catch me, put a whoopin to my backside
    And even as a crack fiend, mama
    You always was a black queen, mama
    I finally understand
    for a woman it ain’t easy tryin to raise a man
    You always was committed
    A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it
    There’s no way I can pay you back
    But the plan is to show you that I understand
    You are appreciated

    [Chorus: Reggie Green & “Sweet Franklin” w/ 2Pac]

    Lady…
    Don’t cha know we love ya? Sweet lady
    Dear mama
    Place no one above ya, sweet lady
    You are appreciated
    Don’t cha know we love ya?

    [second and third chorus, “And dear mama” instead of “Dear mama”]

    [Verse Two: 2Pac]

    Now ain’t nobody tell us it was fair
    No love from my daddy cause the coward wasn’t there
    He passed away and I didn’t cry, cause my anger
    wouldn’t let me feel for a stranger
    They say I’m wrong and I’m heartless, but all along
    I was lookin for a father he was gone
    I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs
    They showed a young brother love
    I moved out and started really hangin
    I needed money of my own so I started slangin
    I ain’t guilty cause, even though I sell rocks
    It feels good puttin money in your mailbox
    I love payin rent when the rent’s due
    I hope ya got the diamond necklace that I sent to you
    Cause when I was low you was there for me
    And never left me alone because you cared for me
    And I could see you comin home after work late
    You’re in the kitchen tryin to fix us a hot plate
    Ya just workin with the scraps you was given
    And mama made miracles every Thanksgivin
    But now the road got rough, you’re alone
    You’re tryin to raise two bad kids on your own
    And there’s no way I can pay you back
    But my plan is to show you that I understand
    You are appreciated

    [Chorus]

    [Verse Three: 2Pac]

    Pour out some liquor and I reminsce, cause through the drama
    I can always depend on my mama
    And when it seems that I’m hopeless
    You say the words that can get me back in focus
    When I was sick as a little kid
    To keep me happy there’s no limit to the things you did
    And all my childhood memories
    Are full of all the sweet things you did for me
    And even though I act craaazy
    I gotta thank the Lord that you made me
    There are no words that can express how I feel
    You never kept a secret, always stayed real
    And I appreciate, how you raised me
    And all the extra love that you gave me
    I wish I could take the pain away
    If you can make it through the night there’s a brighter day
    Everything will be alright if ya hold on
    It’s a struggle everyday, gotta roll on
    And there’s no way I can pay you back
    But my plan is to show you that I understand
    You are appreciated

    [Chorus]

    Sweet lady
    And dear mama

    Dear mama
    Lady [3X]

  7. Nicole Vanni

    Aerosmith “No More No More”.
    The song “No More No More” documents the struggles of the band Aerosmith touring the country as a rock band. We hear their struggles of staying in run down hotels, ragged clothes, no sleep, and “groupies” in every city they travel to. This is much of an autobiographical song not only on the band Aerosmith, but most of all bands, especially rock and roll bands. By the end of the song, the versus, “times they’re a-changin’ nothing ever stands still, if I don’t stop changin’ I’ll be writin’ my will” we get the impression that if they don’t change their lifestyle habits, they will soon be dead. This is an interesting song, because we know they are trying to break free from this reckless lifestyle (title: No more, No more), how successful they were at actually breaking free, is however, another story.

  8. Colin


    In “Get Down”, New York-based emcee Nas narrates three stories from his life, all taking place in different areas of the country (New York, Tennessee, Los Angeles). Nas describes a number of different people, criminals, that he gets mixed up with in each location and the subsequent situations that follow. Nas, often regarded as the greatest lyricist in hip hop, paints of clear picture of each situation, resulting in a detailed perspective through the eyes of Nas himself (given that the listener can pick up on the eccentric east coast hip hop dialect).

  9. Josh Smith

    Montezuma – Fleet Foxes [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdN2bfov9JQ]
    I think I posted this on the wrong post:

    The opening lines to this song (So now I am older/ Than my mother and Father/ When they had their daughter/ Now what does that say about me?) help articulate a more self reflective life narrative. The song continues to find meaning and understanding in what it means to be in your 20′s in 2011-2012. Throughout, the singer (Robin Pecknold) seems to compare his current life to those of people in the past, people who now seem to have had their lives figured out or determined in some way, but perhaps were just as confused as he is now. I don’t know; I like it.

    Lyrics:
    So now I am older,
    Than my mother and father,
    When they had their daughter,
    Now what does that say about me.
    Oh, how could I dream of
    Such a selfless and true love
    Could I wash my hands of
    Just looking out for me?

    Oh man what I used to be
    Oh man oh my oh me (x2)

    In dearth or in excess
    Both the slave and the empress
    Will return to the dirt, I guess
    Naked as when they came.
    I wonder if I’ll see
    Any faces above me?
    Or just cracks in the ceiling,
    Nobody else to blame?

    Oh man what I used to be,
    Oh man oh my oh me (x2)

    Gold teeth and gold jewelry
    Every piece of your dowry
    Throw them into the tomb with me
    Bury them with my name.
    Unless I have someday,
    Ran my wandering
    Mind away

    Oh man what I used to be
    Montezuma to Tripoli
    Oh man oh my oh me

  10. Kristina K.


    This is a man’s commentary on the everyday sights and struggles of his neighborhood. while focusing on the surroundings, he is simultaneously giving us a glimpse of the tools he uses to overcome his circumstances. He transcends through the music itself and the allegory of Hercules.

    Hercules Lyrics
    Aaron Neville

    All you fear, is fear it’s self
    Check out your own back yard before
    you check out someone else

    Railroad track, in my neighbourhood
    Ain’t no trains around that part
    just ain’t no good

    Wanna know, what’s going down
    When the pimp on the corner
    looks like the sharpest cat in town

    Jungle rule, can’t be no fool
    Might get caught by the hook of a crook
    no time for cool

    Look out jay, what you say,
    what you carrying brother
    I hope you’re clean cause the man is mean,
    don’t come another further

    We all know the answer,
    will come out in time
    I might even carry some of your load
    right along with mine

    Thank you ma’am, mister please
    ‘Cause I must be Hercules
    I must be Hercules

    Like a bird, on the wing
    I just wanna be free enough to do my thing

    I can feel the pressure, from every side
    If you ain’t gonna help, don’t hurt, just pass me by

    Oh, no

    Hercules
    I must be Hercules

    Jungle rule, can’t be no fool
    Devil is on the loose, no coo
    Got your feet, in the sand
    Got to be down with the cats that around and still got the face the man

    Talk about me if you please but I must be Hercules
    Hercules
    I must be Hercules

    Duckin’ rocks, catchin’ stones
    Movin’ how can I survive what’s going on
    Big steely borrow
    Somehow I’ve got to make it to tomorrow

    Can’t depend, on no-one else
    Comin’ up the hard way I’ve got to save myself

    Must be Hercules
    I must be Hercules
    Talk about me if you please
    I must be hercules

  11. Daniel Magner

    Goodmornin’ Da Lyrics:

    Goodmornin’ Da, oh I’m in jail.
    I don’t need you to try for bail.
    If I know Ma, she’ll scream and wail,
    so just lock me up and throw away the keys.

    Well goodbye to my own Dublin dear,
    and goodbye to old St. Brigid’s there.
    Well I wasn’t born with this, but now I got it like the flu.
    I’m fuckin’ useless, so what’s the point of impressing you?

    Goodmornin’ Da, oh I’m in jail.
    I don’t need you to try for bail.
    If I know Ma, she’ll scream and wail,
    so just lock me up and throw away the keys.

    Well, I’d only fifteen pints but I could not see,
    when them damn skites got a hold of me.
    Well, I could say it was the whiskey, oh, but that it may not be.
    Or just the prospect here of something else to do.

    Goodmornin’ Da, oh I’m in jail.
    I don’t need you to try for bail.
    If I know Ma, she’ll scream and wail,
    so just lock me up and throw away the keys.

    Well I’ve always been a problem child,
    and I know that I have been too wild.
    I wasn’t born with this, but now I got it like the flu.
    I’m fuckin’ useless, so what’s the point of impressing you?

    Goodmornin’ Da, oh I’m in jail.
    I don’t need you to try for bail.
    If I know Ma, she’ll scream and wail,
    so just lock me up and throw away the keys.

    I provided the lyrics because a bit of it is hard to understand.

    This video starts off with the singers parents (presumably) answering the phone. Right there we get a look into what his home life was like, how his parents interacted with each other and a glimpse of their personalities. Then the song goes on to describe this man who is sent to jail calling his dad and telling him he doesn’t need him. The line “If I know Ma, she’ll scream and wail” shows that his mother cares more for him than his father. The line “I wasn’t born like this but now I got it like the flu” lets the listener believe that this man wasn’t always on a path for imprisonment. The next verse talks about him getting really drunk (When he says “skites” he is talking about the drunken rage getting hold of him), but he claims “Well, I could say it was the whiskey, oh, but that it may not be. Or just the prospect here of something else to do.” This is somewhat like the line in Johnny 99 where he says he was drunk but it wasn’t necessarily the drink that made him do his crime. The last verse tells about how the singer was always a problem child in the past but it’s gotten worse. The end of the video once again shows the mother and father and when asked who was on the phone the father says “No one.” once again showing what a poor dad the singer always had.

  12. Haiming Wang


    This is “When I’m Gone” by Eminem. Eminem wrote this song for his daughter. This song describes what Eminem experienced conflict in his family when he was going to be a pop star. This song mainly use Eminem and his daughter’s conversation to describe what happened between them. “I don’t know go play Hailie, baby, your Daddy’s busy. Daddy’s writing a song, this song ain’t gonna write itself. I’ll give you one underdog then you gotta swing by yourself. Then turn right around in that song and tell her you love her” represents Eminem has to ignore his daughter to focus on his career. In this phase of lyrics, Eminem tells his state of conflict. He loves his daughter, but he has no time to play with her. The whole song represents how Eminem worked hard for his career and how his daughter tried to convince him to stay with her. In the end of the song, Eminem’s daughter decided to leave him, because Eminem always ignored the existence of his family. The whole song tell Eminem’s music life and conflicts with his family, especially his apologize to his daughter.

  13. Christina Ray

    Sweet Baby James is a Cowboy Lullaby that tells the story of a cowboy on the range yearning for home. Taylor dedicated the song to his new born nephew James. It is a love letter to the landscapes of the Berkshires where he currently resides. Taylor uses the cowboy figure to tell his own desire to return home after a long stretch of international touring. It is a beautiful song that reminds me of the time that I spent in the breath taking Berkshires in Massachusetts.

  14. P.J. Zettle

    This is a song by a new artist name Willis Earl Beale who specializes in a very lo-fi and minimalistic approach to the traditional singer-songwriter affair. He is quite obviously writing this song as a reflection of loss, a reflection of helplessness, but at the same time leaves a voice and lasting feeling that is present and relevant. The minimalist approach to songwriting works towards Beale’s favor; it sounds desperate and bare, and yet beautiful and innocent.

    In remission of a mind, watch and listen to find
    The position behind this illusion of time
    Got me counting my dimes so on the plus I can write
    I’m even doubting the rhyme, I’m in no rush I can hide
    Because I know that I tried, no longer taking a side
    Tears don’t flow from my eyes, no longer go for the lies
    I don’t protest or resist, I’m not invested in this
    I’m backing out of the fight to give my spirit tonight
    Gazing at the phase of an open “Can’t stay”
    Watching rain fall from a damp cafe
    Can’t see the wind but I see the trees sway
    Now the evening’s kiss got me fading away
    Just fading away
    Just fading away
    Fading away
    Drip-drop, window pane hypnotic
    Clip-clop, concrete heels on it
    I’m still disillusioned and cool catatonic
    Always and a days without smoking that chronic
    And the doors still open at the end of the day
    And I’m still hoping without much to say
    Ask me how I’m feeling; well I’m full of shit n doubt
    Ask me who I’m with and I’ll tell you I’m without
    These phantasm women got me swimming through the sea
    Apprehension steady creeping, whirlpool is pulling me
    So I might as well relax, go down with the flood
    ‘Ca usemy hearts been attacked and the sharks smell my blood
    If I lose consciousness and I wake in the shore
    I will never complain I will never get old
    Gazing at the phase of an open “Can’t stay”
    Watching rain fall from a damp cafe
    Can’t see the wind but I see the trees sway
    Now the evening’s kiss got me fading away

    1. apciv Post author

      Minimalist is right. This makes Johnny 99 sound overproduced. I completely agree with your assessment.

  15. Carlos Rocha

    While not as famous as “Lose Yourself” or as intricately fictive as “Stan,” Eminem’s “Sing for The Moment” is nevertheless as an iconic masterpiece that shares many of thematic characteristics of the American Autobiography. Indeed, Eminem is a master story-weaver who is able to touch upon many different themes in this single narrative. On the surface, the song discusses Eminem’s personal struggles as a young adult growing up in an unstable household as well as the burdens he must endure daily under the burden of being famous. However, like many autobiographies, Eminem’s piece also serves as a catalyst to express larger themes. This is perhaps most evident through the use of the chorus borrowed from Aerosmith, which implores listeners to “Sing on,” ergo, continue to climb toward your personal goals no matter what. In the end, Eminem comes to terms with his own difficulties in the final verse when he sings, “That’s why we sing for these kids, who don’t have a thing Except for a dream, and a fuckin’ rap magazine…That’s why we seize the moment try to freeze it and own it, squeeze it and hold it Cause we consider these minutes golden And maybe they’ll admit it when we’re gone Just let our spirits live on, through our lyrics that you hear in our songs.” Essentially, Eminem finds resolution by discovering a purpose for himself which he describes as being a role model or an inspirational force for those who have little hope.

    1. apciv Post author

      I’d say this is way more successful than that other arena rock/ rap hybrid which also featured Aerosmith, Walk this Way:

  16. Christofer Moscoso

    The song “The Suburbs” by The Arcade Fire is in their own words form an interview with npr “a letter from the suburbs.” The band had a concept album that tried to capture the spirit of growing up in the suburban area. The titular song really captures the spirit of friendships growing up in the suburban area bonds formed and destroyed. As the song progresses a sense of longing for better days before the pressures of growing older changed them. Living in the suburbs is a shared experience that most Americans have and the idea of a suburban paradise is an intrinsic American ideal.

  17. Symone Ramirez


    The song, “Lost One’s” by the rapper J. Cole, tells a story about boy and girl and how they are going to bring a baby into this world. It reflects on the issue they are going through in their relationship and how they both have different views of having a child. The girl states that she is going to keep the baby, while the boy believes it is not a good decision to bring a baby into this world when they do not have the resources to raise a kid. And believes they should find a way out. And J. Cole voices the fact that the simply told her that he loved her to have sex with her. It is the classic story of a boy and girl having sex and end up in the situation of having a child. And represents many situations that go on in this life when it comes down to two people having a child and not being ready for it.

  18. Leechi Moua

    Priscilla Ahn’s song “Dream”, to me, is an early reflective life narrative upon her earlier years (childhood to now) about growing up as a little girl wondering who or what she’s going to be when she grow’s up. She was 24 yrs old when her first album with “Dream”, was released in 2008. To write a full cycle song about dreaming as a little girl, growing up and being able to achieve her dream to write, sing, and release her own music album is an accomplishment that made her feel perfectly content with life. It seems she wrote this song to express the fulfillment that she felt in actualizing her dream and seeing it become a reality. Although, she doesn’t explicitly state in her song her aspirations to become a music artist, I feel by her singing the song its kind implied that her dream was to be a singer/music artist/song writer. Of course, the visual of her actually playing a guitar and harmonica does kind of give it away too. At least, that’s what I get from the song. I don’t know if other people will.

  19. Natalie Slivka

    Andre Nickatina’s “Train With No Love” tells the tale of how a drug deal gone bad changed his entire life. His story begins positively, saying “business is good, got a new wife, I could do this for the rest of my life.” He then gets a call from his homie Jay Lee telling him to go pick up a package, but when he does he gets busted and receives no help from his so-called “homie.” Andre is sentenced to five years in prison. During his time there he contemplates his life. When finally released, “thangs done changed.” Andre finds out that Jay Lee left him a large sum of money as an apology for what he had done. He gets his wife back and gets out of the game. The story that is being told here gives the listener an inside look at what Andre had to go through to become the man he is now.

  20. Jordan Reudy

    Here is a song by Johnny Cash called “I hung my head.” I chose this song because there are many double meanings and lessons to learn through it. He sings about a man that shot another man riding his horse. He used his brothers rifle to “practice his aim,” and doesn’t realize that he took a mans life. Through the song he sings about how he wished he had never done it. “I hung my head” refers to him knowing how bad of a thing he did, but he is also physically hanging his head. He hung his head because he was confused and ashamed. At the end of the song I interpreted the song in a way that he was actually hung and died. Overall this song portrays a significant life with deep meaning.

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