As most of you know Nicole and I run mindblue.com
a company that sells differentiated lesson plans
for rock and roll music. We have a crazy backlog of songs we've licensed lyrics for by folks like 2Pac, R.E.M., Will Smith and Ani Difranco. We haven't been able to bring the guides to the store yet because our crazy day jobs, NYC life, doctorate coursework and the Mindblue produced Popular Culture in Education
conferences. These circumstances forced us to put study guide writing on hold. With no adverting or any of that snozzy stuff we've made about enough to cover half our website costs over the last four years. We're hoping to change that with fresh content and new study guides in 2010.
When we select songs for the study guides there are a series of things we look for. We usually look for tracks that:
1. are well written enough that they can stand alone as an object of study
2. lend themselves to interdisciplinary/differentiated connections
3. have strong links to core curricula
There are two main reasons songs don't end up making it to the Mindblue store.
Sometimes we can't afford to license a songs lyrics or they are too complicated to track down. Some hip-hop songs require you to get permission from up to seven different writers (because of samples). It has been pretty common for me to run into situations where I can't make contact with a writer because their contact number has been disconnected. In other situations, like when we tried to license Beatles lyrics, Sony wanted INSANE $$$ for the lyrics - since we're an out-of-pocket venture, that was not an option.
Those things don't drive me nearly as crazy as the other common situation. We'll find a brilliant, totally teachable song where the artist uses one or two things - like a monster f-bomb or something "too hot for TV" that makes it impossible to consider for a wide range of classrooms.
That brings me to today's fun song...
Last night I was working at my computer with the 'ol iTunes DJ shuffling my 11,000 song library in the background. Suddenly, a track popped up that I hadn't thought about in years. Back in the 1990's I worked as a marketing rep for Virgin Records and had the pleasure of promoting this talented songwriter named Charlie Terrell. From the looks of his website
, he's managed to make a living with his art - and so it should be because this dude can write.
The song below, "Toystore," would test any student's background knowledge across a bunch of disciplines. For obvious reasons, this almost perfect track never made the cut for a Mindblue study guide.
However, it does not mean that you grownups can't appreciate the poetry of the adult content below - maybe we should all write Terrell and ask him to record a PG-13 version?
You worked hard today - take a break - and enjoy a cool teacher tune (lyrics below). NOTE:
please ignore the Rollins track and press the play button for "Toystore."
On the day that i was born i got into a fight.
My mama called the doctor.
And my daddy got uptight.
There i was already misunderstood.
Oh i crawled out of the window and i hit the road for good.
Yea, i musta crawled forever deep into the night.
‘Til, i saw this building with artificial light.
i went up to the entrance.
Threw a brick right through the door and i walked in unencumbered to the toy store…
i saw this shopping cart go flyin’ doin ninety down the aisle.
Yea, it was Cassady pushing Kerouac in true, Dean Moriarty style.
Yes, uh, Eve was playing with a slinky.
Cain and Abel had a fight.
i saw Houdini playing Twister with Ayn Rand and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Jack the Ripper was with a stripper.
They were playing Operation.
Yes, but, Ghandi wasn’t there yet.
No, he was in some other incantation.
Yes, Rodan was into Playdough.
Dali’s Aunt Farm was intact.
Yes, and Vincent had the 64 Crayolas with the built-in sharpener on the back.
Well, Hemingway had a pop gun over by the fish and pets.
Yes, and Edgar Allen was in the corner with his Creepy Crawler Set.
i found Bukowski in the bathroom.
He had a woman in the stall.
Yea, he was drunk on Mr. Bubble and writing “fuck you” on the wall.
Yea, Mussolini had the guns and the tanks and little plastic army men and all, yes, but Hitler forgot about the army for his perfect Ken and Barbie Dolls.
Aristotle was with a model.
They were sniffing airplane glue.
Yes, and Galileo found a ladder and dropped basketballs on Tarzan’s shoes.
Charles Manson was just dancin’ while jesus mopped the floor.
Bob Dylan walked in with a tambourine and said “Yes, I’ve had this dream before.”…’bout the toy store.
Feel free to share your thougths on the this track and your favorite "teachable / almost teachable" songs below!
Terrell's website: http://www.hopefulsinner.com
Song Lyrics from: http://www.hopefulsinner.com/writings.html