Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Discovering Music

Sometimes I play music while my students are freewriting, either as a prompt to help them imagine a scene or in the background as a sort of reward. Two of my eighth grade girls, V. and M., asked if they could bring in music if it was appropriate language and "if it wasn't, you know, like lots of guitars and drums and noise and stuff." I said sure, why didn't they make a mix and I'd listen to it.

Except now I can't stop listening to it. V. and M. were two of my three students to write "what I did this summer" essays about going to the Vans '08 Warped tour. The mix extremely reflects the tour lineup, not surprisingly.

Here is their track listing:

"Darlin'" - Between the Trees
"Jaime All Over" - Mayday Parade
"The Forward" - Between the Trees
"Lullaby" - Dear Juliet
"I Must Be Dreaming" - The Maine
"Dear Maria, Count Me In" - All Time Low
"Anthem of Our Dying Day" - Story of the Year
"Your Life and Mine" - Just Surrender
"Shake It" - Metro Station
"Secret Valentine" - We the Kings
"Never Let This Go" - Paramore (sic)
"Three Cheers for Five Years" - Mayday Parade
"I'll Run" - The Cab

My two favorites are "Your Life and Mine" by Just Surrender:

and "Shake It," by Metro Station--& the "Shake It" video has a ton of random awesome dancing plus kind of a terrific random premise. It's also fascinating how much the lyrics are about sex, while the video isn't at all. Hmm, target audience?

I am loving teaching eighth grade this year--remembering how much that age is about figuring out who you are, apart from your family, and developing your identity based on clothing, music, your friends, and the stuff you like: books, sports, church, whatever it is. I am also constantly cringing from the never-ending reminders of how rough it is to be that age, in all kinds of ways.

In eighth grade, I was listening to Eazy-E because of my crush on Jamie Lockhart. I have a student who is really into Eazy-E (it's written all over his notebook and sometimes on his arms), but I think in his case it's dad's influence. I also knew all the top 40 hits every week--like, I could predict the top 10 and be very close to correct. Me and Casey Kasem were tight. That was the year of Bobby Brown, Poison, Milli Vanilli, Paula Abdul ("Straight Up"), and Madonna was in her "Like a Prayer" phase; I still completely worshipped her at that point. (Fourth grade until the beginning of high school, "Like a Virgin" through "Like a Prayer," it was all about Madonna.) Also, "Eternal Flame" was that year. Seminal stuff.

I think the girls who made me the mix are much cooler than I was--in fact, I'm sure of it, even though when I told V. she was cool she said, "I am so not cool! Cool? We're not cool!" and she was not politely denying it, she was baffled at how I could think that. It wasn't just because Ms. Nelson called her cool--she could've taken it from me if it were true. She's just very sure it's not true, and she's not only comfortable in her uncoolness, she relies on it to let her be the goofy kid she is. Cool is a lot of work in eighth grade. (I'm guessing it's always a lot of work, not that I'd know.)

If you were V. and M. in 1989, eighth graders, but relatively self-assured and comfortable doing your own thing, what would you be listening to? I didn't discover Nine Inch Nails till ninth grade, though Pretty Hate Machine came out in 1989. Pixies Doolittle, Nirvana Bleach, and Ministry The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste also all came out in 1989, but I wasn't quite there yet. I don't remember anyone that cool in junior high, though I might've been oblivious and just not registering them as cool. All three of my Vans '08 Warped tourgoer students also have older sisters and/or cousins involved, exposing them to such things. This is why my little sister saw They Might Be Giants at First Avenue the summer before seventh grade (and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, she has just reminded me!), and Liz Phair, also at First Avenue, in eighth grade.

Oh, music. Self-identity. And growing up.

I continue to love my job.

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