15 April 2008

2 Packets: Lovett and Cave

Today's Class: We analyzed "The Fat Girl," "Creeps Like Me," "Fat Babies," and "Sonja" (as an honest metasong) from Lyle Lovett's 1994 masterpiece, I Love Everybody. I wanted to do "I Think You Know What I Mean," as well, but I felt like we exhausted poor Lyle by that time. They loved "Creeps Like Me;" what a dark, funny song that is. "The Fat Girl" was a perfect choice for analyzing. That song is an excellent example of the results of iceberg style, Imagism, and Modernism. In two slim verses, it tells you everything you need to know with profound understatement, irony, and something resembling sarcasm. I was pleased with the discussion that followed. Students were both analytical and personal in their responses. We got into discussions of child-rearing, religion, sincerity, the endurance of pain, the cruelty of children, and the quality of music, bringing it back to the text everytime. A couple students could work on processing their thoughts a bit more before speaking, but the results are always entertaining. Besides, I've been that kid many times myself.

The Fat Girl

The Fat Girl
She always stayed inside and played piano
And she told her mother
The children made her cry
Andher mother told her
They don't mean it
They don't mean it
They don't mean it
They don't mean it

Now the fat girl
She ain't fat no more
And lord how she plays piano
And she sings loud
And she sings low
And she sings of love
And blind compassion
But she don't mean it
She don't mean it
She don't mean it
She don't mean it

copyright 1994 Lyle Lovett

We ended class by beginning our discussion for next class, which will be on spoken word music. I played the first half of "We Call Upon the Author" and asked if it was spoken word or not, following a small discussion of the connection between "slam" and spoken word (which I should probably learn more about), during which time I made fun of slam poetry, imitating its perverse emphases, intonations, and forced breaths. They were certainly impressed and revolted, depending on the student, by the song. I told them to familiarize themselves with the words and have something more to say than "What the hell?"--as one of my favorite students offered--next class.

Up for consideration:

tender blindspot--Peter Mulvey
E-Bow the Letter--R.E.M.
Darkness--Peter Gabriel
Frank's Wild Years, Nirvana--Tom Waits
One of Dylan's early talking songs, Man in the Long Black Coat, Highlands--Dylan

Maybe something by the Doors, such as The Celebration of the LIzard King, or The End?

Well, it was certainly a fun class. Things can really get rolling sometimes, and then we all have a good time.
I made sure to address everyone's paper concerns and source finding and thesis writing first, as when you don't address the pragmatic concerns of the course first, you can forget them and risk students not writing good work, which is what they are in your class to learn how to do. I really want to polish their analytical skills, though, and I feel that these lyrical analysis classes with their brief crash course in poetics are helping in that direction.

1 comment:

frankie teardrop said...

i would probably have a lot of fun in your class...to be a fly on the wall?

you should definitely analyze some doors material. 'not to touch the earth' is the only studio version of 'celebration of the lizard' isn't it? either one would work...still love that fucking song.