Historical Song Research and Analysis Assignment

Purpose:The assignment is to write an historical analysis of a song. The purpose of the assignment is multi-fold.

  • To show how the media shapes our knowledge and perspective of History.
  • To explore history by using many sources including the Internet.
  • To show how prevalent history is in everyday culture.

****Make sure you research the version that I give – not remakes or alternate versions****

Guidelines: The paper should be 2 pages in length, double spaced, in a normal font, and 12 point font size.MLA or Chicago style. Document where you found the information.

Example:The lyrics, “I’m a goin’ to Tennessee for the CCC” is referring to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal public work program (Jones 23).

The student will also receive lyrics for all the songs in each group and questions to be answered in essay form. The student will pick one song from each group and complete the questions to be turned in on the assigned dates.

Late papers will have a ten point reduction. No papers will be accepted after one week. A score of zero will be recorded. No exceptions.

Be careful – be factual – do not make personal attacks or unsupported claims.

The paper should be a well thought out work with proper grammar, spelling, and form.

Since everything happened yesterday, verbs should be in past tense.

This is NOT a summary but an analysis.

No Wikipedia – this is an automatic 20 point reduction!


History is about research! This is different from other classes. Your opinion is not valid without proof of how you came to that conclusion. Think of yourself as a lawyer trying to prove someone is guilty of a crime in a court of law. He/she needs to prove to a high degree that the statements they make are accurate. How they do this is by giving evidence to support those statements. They bring forth enough evidence that makes their statements look rock solid. You should do the same. Add relevant facts that include, but not limited to: quotes from other experts, a physical example of support, or add a key term (a qualifier).

You should analyze not summarize. Students have a lot of problems with this.

Here is an example of that:You are shown a video of Charles Manson and told to analyze his psychotic behavior. Your report comes back to say he was dirty, unshaven, was wearing a weird shirt, and had a Swastika on his forehead, so therefore, he must be demented. Wrong! You summarized him. No analysis was there. You need to carefully look at the video and analyze his relationship with his mother, his delusions of grandeur etc. to come up with an analysis of his mental state.

On this assignment I am asking you to use the song as a reflection of society at that time. What I have done is given you a pair of history binoculars to examine the past. Do not fixate on the tool used to study, but on the subject. Some students write about the song (the history binoculars) not the material it is viewing. Remember you are primarily writing about the society at the time and how the song captured society.

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