I’m a composition teacher, you know what that means. Yep. I hate papers about the following: gun control, abortion, gender, civil rights. After you read 200 5-7 page essays about any of those topics, you would hate them too. Seriously. I. Can’t. Even.
So, in hopes to combat these topics I think of creative assignments for the students to think and write about. One of these assignments is called the “My Playlist” assignment where the students reflect back on their lives and songs that have effected them. I always say, “Tell me your life in song.” They write a playlist of their lives in narrative form.
I have all kinds of fun activities that coincide with this unit, and we have a blast. We also cry. A. Lot. Grown men cry. Well, I think of them as kids…as most of them are 19-20 years old…but still. They cry.
Sometimes I am very surprised by the songs that come up in the papers, and in some ways I’m not at all shocked. For example, I can almost bet that the amount of country songs chosen will make my skin crawl every semester. Always happens. I think that every young adult I’ve met in Iowa has been deeply affected by the song “Drive” or “The House that Built Me.”
But then I get a random song. One young man chose “Monster Mash” because it reminded him of the amazing summers he had at camp when he was a kid – camp dances specifically. Another girl chose a really random CCR song, that I didn’t even know, because it made her think of motorcycle rides with her dad on country roads when she was 9.
Another student, a retired Army veteran, admitted that he cannot listen to a certain Garth Brooks song because it reminds him of his late friend whom he lost in battle. He also made ties to a Motley Crue song and boot camp. Ties that gave me chills.
Music weaves in and out of our lives – sometimes unnoticed, other times a major player. Thinking back on your life in song is powerful. Writing about it is too.
I encourage you to write the Playlist of YOUR life and leave it for someone to find. The process of reflection will be excellent for you AND whomever finds your playlist will be seriously impressed by your mad music listening skills.
I wrote my own playlist, list and narrative – and I share it with the students as an example of what they can do. It’s honest. It’s hurtful. It’s sad. It’s funny. It’s me. Unapologetically so.
Here is my playlist:
“Chantilly Lace” by The Big Bopper
“Fishin’ in the Dark” by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
“Crossroads” by Eric Clapton
“True Love Ways” by Buddy Holly
“Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Lepard
“I Feel You” by Depeche Mode
“Heaven Beside You” by Alice n Chains
“Smells like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
“Take on Me” by Aha
“Can’t Get you Out of my Head” by Kylie Minogue
“Sweater Weather” by Underground
“The Story” by Brandi Carlisle
What would the soundtrack to your life be? Let us know in the comments below, if you care to share!