Unraveling American History Exploring Song Choices
“213” Hailing from my home state, Dahmer brought us great shame. He was a serial killer and cannibal of 17 boys. He didn’t live to see a later life.
5 marchers were shot and killed by members of the KKK and American Nazi PartyThe shady part is that police watched the event and didn’t do much to prevent it. “88 Seconds in Greensboro”
“American Skin” or “41 Shots” A Bruce Springsteen song about the 1999 murder of AmadouDiallo. An unarmed immigrant killed…setting off a tirade about racial profiling in America
“Angel of Harlem” Billie Holiday was jazz singer whose performances often moved people to tears. She battled much in her life—racism, drug addiction, and relationships. She died too early.
“April 29, 1992” Rodney King, a black motorist, was beaten in a routine traffic stop. His attackers (the police) were acquitted and the world rioted for 6 straight days. 53 people died.
“ATWA” Charles Manson—the man who got me banned from 6th grade book reports Air, Tree, Waters, Animals or All the Way Alive is what ATWA stands for…what was the philosophy Manson was trying to promote?
“Ballad of Ira Hayes” One of five marines who raised the flag at Iwo Jima His death was a horrible one—one all too common for our veterans
“Black Day in July” Police raided an African-American drinking club…to find a party welcoming home Vietnam vets. A racial riot ensued. The numbers were startling…over 7000 were arrested; many were injured; a multitude were dead.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” It is a protest song, but what is Dylan protesting? Civil rights? War?
“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” Systematic destruction of the Native Americans by our government—go figure, the destruction still continues today
“Campaigner” If you love corrupt politicians, then this is the song for you. It is a song highlighting America’s finest—liar that is…Richard Nixon
“Candle in the Wind” The song has gone through several versions, but you would be researching the initial inspiration—Marilyn Monroe—her life and death
“Cassie” Some question the “legend” of her being the one asked/killed because she said she did believe in God. Typical teenage girl who once was consumed in a life of drugs…she found her faith and supposedly tried to defend it on that infamous day in Littleton, Colorado.
“Demolition Lovers” Can there be a COOLER story than that of the infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde? I think not.
“Enola Gay” Dropped “Little Boy” on Hiroshima—forever changing the world. Named after the mother of the pilot.
“For What it is Worth” “Stop, children. What’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.” The song takes on a true generational problem—its real inspiration came from the Sunset Strip riots
“Freedom” by Rage The song recounts the wrongful conviction of Leonard Peltier (a Native American whose tribe had been annihilated in drive-by shootings by our government). The tribe fought back and Peltier was wrongfully convicted. He rots in jail because the legal system is too weak to admit it is WRONG!
“Gemini” Want to learn more about one of the most famous killers to exact revenge on his victims and the police? Then enter the of this Slayer song about the Zodiac Killer.
“Heaven Runs on Oil” Interested in the war with Iraq and our world’s reliance on black gold? Pick this song.
“Helter Skelter” Had its own life before Charles Manson hijacked the song. It was a prophetic song of racial tensions destroying our nation. You can also study its relation to my favorite freakazoid, Charles Manson
“Hey Man, Nice Shot” Be prepared to be disturbed, really disturbed about this on-air suicide which was shown in classrooms throughout our nation.
“Hurricane” Don’t ignore this song…one of the coolest topics to research. Have you seen the movie with Denzel Washington? Rubin Carter was a black boxer who, in my opinion, was FRAMED for murders he did not commit. He spent 20 years in jail—a wrongfully convicted man.
“I Don’t Like Mondays” I know you hate Mondays. The song’s origin is truly fascinating. A crazy woman opened up fire on a bunch of young kids at a playground…the end result fascinating? Remember the House episode with Dave Matthews? This song was a crucial part of the episode. *Did I fail to mention that Hugh Laurie is my biggest celebrity crush? I know he is old and that is creepy…
“Jeremy” Eddie Vedder tried to give life to a small story of a boy who committed suicide in his English class; it has a second story as well.
“John Wayne Gacy” Truly disturbing… Not for the weak of heart Beyond SICK serial killer
“Jonestown” One of the most fascinating stories on the list. “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid” takes on new meaning. GREAT documentaries on this historical event
“Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll” One of the stories on this list that makes me ashamed of my American ancestors…her SENSELESS death and the nation’s reaction to it REPULSES me
“Man on the Moon” Dead? Alive? Who Knows? This story is for the ECCENTRIC.
“Mary Kay” Most twisted love story I have ever heard of…you know Mary Kay, the elementary teacher, who fell in love with her young student. She had kids with him, went to jail, and then still went after him. What is wrong with the world today?
“Midnight Rambler” Reaction to the confession of the Boston Strangler murders.
“Miracle Man” by OzzyOsbourne Disgruntled with corrupt religious figures? Jimmy Swaggart took a pretty big religious FALL, and Ozzy discusses Swaggart’s disgrace.
“Mississippi Goddam” A civil rights leader who was gunned down outside his home…his kids found him dead. It took 31 years for his killer to be brought to justice.
“Nothing to Gein” Squeamish? Can’t handle a story about a man who skinned his victims and then wore their flesh? Don’t pick this topic.
“Ohio” Anti-war? Choose this song about the Kent State Riots. You will have a wealth of research. “Innocent?” college kids were gunned down for their beliefs on war.
“Papers Please” Recent Arizona legislation which is our nation’s most stringent law on the books for anti-immigration. There is great controversy over this bill.
“Polly” Great song…not-so-great story that inspired the event. This song is the HARDEST one on the list to research. You would have to dig REALLY deep and have a whole lot of Nirvana books to find the answers.
“Pretty Boy Floyd” American bank robber romanticized by the American media.
“Pride in the Name of Love” MLK’s assassination—a safe topic with a wealth of research. A great song to dissect.
“Roulette” A song recounting the nuclear Power Plant accident and Three Mile Island. Our government reported no deaths or injuries. They lied. Lung cancer and leukemia rates in the area spiked (as did infant mortality rates).
“Scarecrow” I would love to have a group cover this song about the senseless murder of Matthew Shepard. He was a homosexual who was brutally beaten, tied to a fence, and left for dead. Why? That is where the mystery starts.
“Sister Rosa” Safe song…great story…a ton of research Tale of Rosa Parks and what she so bravely accomplished with one simple gesture.
“Someday” A political convention having controversy and protests? No way. This event was a big one.
“Talking Cuban Crisis” Safe one about the Cuban Missile Crisis…a truly frightening event for our nation.
“Tearjerker” This song was written as a memorial to Kurt Cobain after his tragic “suicide?” You would be looking at the death and life/legacy of Kurt Cobain
“Ted, Just Admit It” Nice guy with a not –so-nice obsession. Girls about to go off to college…don’t pick the topic. Ted Bundy is the source for much disconcerting information.
“The Big Three Killed my Baby” In this song, the White Stripes attack GM, Chrysler, Ford and unions for killing off part of America.
“The Last Resort” Calling fellow environmentalists—a look at how the government takes away what little natural resources we have left.
“The Manhattan Project” Science gurus unite Our first attempt to develop a nuclear weapon…shame …shame…shame Tons of research to help here
“The Wreck of the Edmund…” Mystery abounds with this ship that sank with NO distress calls.
“Tie My Hands” Lil Weezycritizes my favorite president of all time about his “quick” response with Hurricane Katrina (I do miss George W.)
“Trouble Every Day” Why do rappers sing about Watts? It has a story—then and now.
“When This is Over” Don’t like your kids? Why don’t you put them in a car, roll them into a lake, and blame it all on an innocent African-American man. This is the messed up world of convicted mother/murderer Susan Smith.
“Whitey on the Moon” A biting social commentary on our race to the moon at the expense of more pressing social issues.
“Who Will Stop the Rain” This song details Vietnam and the EMPTY promises of politicians. It is a great Creedence Clearwater Revival song.
“Wide Awake” Kanye West wasn’t the only artist to criticize the SLOW response time of our government when it came to Hurricane Katrina. Audioslave took on the issue as well.
“Without Chains” So, there is a little government secret known as Guantanamo Bay, and there are some not-so-nice things which happened there. Patti Smith recalls the story of Murat Kurnaz, a man who rotted away there for 4 years without any real evidence against him.
“World Wide Suicide” Pearl Jam’s stance on Operation Iraqi Freedom. Let’s just say they are not fans of the war or the government who sent our troops into Iraq. Vedderclaims the song was written to honor Pat Tillman (the American football player who left his team to join the Army. He later died in the war).