Bob Dylan who started life as Robert Zimmerman in 1941 made his way east from Minnesota to find his hero Woody Guthrie. He sort of landed in New York City and rather rapidly became a cult hero. His songs seared into our hearts and minds and gave voice to our angst and confusion.
One of the guidance counselors at Wilbur Cross High School, where I work, once described him as the original rap star with lyrics like "Johnny's in the basement mixing up the medicine, I'm on the pavement thinkin' bout the government" from his song
Subterranean Homesick Blues
written in 1965.
Folk singer Eliza Gilkyson described Dylan as a person who freed her because he " was all about breaking out of structure, as a lyricist, a vocalist, a poet, a philosopher and a storyteller. He rocked, he spewed venom, he seduced, and he sang us to sleep and slapped us awake. He was truly our modern day griot by singing loudly that the times they are a -changin' (Come gather 'round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown…come mothers and fathers throughout the land and don't criticize what you don't understand, Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command, Your old road is rapidly agin')
I also intend to play Dylan's song
and then show the movie to show the power that music/poetry can have to literally save lives. "This is the story of Hurricane, the man the authorities came to blame for somethin' that he never done". Because of Dylan's popularity Rubin "Hurricane' Carter, an African- American boxer falsely accused of murder, received another trial after spending twenty years on death row and was eventually set free. I showed the movie this year and it was a powerful experience for all of us. Perhaps the times really are a-changin'. From these songs we will be able to make connections to rap and the importance of poetry and song to express our situations in life.
Throughout this unit students will be required to bring in music and lyrics to their favorite songs. I will bring in Bob Dylan, they will bring in rap. Doesn't this seem like a nice way to end one's senior year in high school?