Thursday, November 15, 2007

Foolishness

I've been doing a new listening exercise in class. I do this each session with a song. I find a song where the words are reasonably clear when sung. Then I type up the lyrics and blank out certain words for the students to try to catch. I have to record the song onto a cassette which I play/pause/play/pause in class. This is one of the bigger hits in my exercise repertoire, I guess since everybody loves music. I also try to choose songs that are well-known. The last two sessions I did Hotel California (original version) and Cry Me a River (Diana Krall version). This session, I chose What a Fool Believes (Carol Welsman version). I didn't use the original Doobie Brothers' version because, honestly, it's too hard to catch the words with their falsetto shrieking. I had heard a new cover of the song on jazz radio and the words were very clear so I decided to use that version. I looked up the song on Itunes, where over 20 versions exist. I found and purchased it, recorded it onto cassette, typed up the lyrics and brought it to work. It's been a total flop.

Apparently, this was never a hit up here. Only a couple of students have had a vague sense of familiarity with the song. I checked with a musician friend who plays weddings around town and she told me she had also learned this. It seems that when they'd play the tune at weddings, everyone would sit down. People like to dance to tunes they know. Anyway.

Yesterday, I did the exercise with my class of twenty-somethings. Something struck them as very funny as I started the song. They worked themselves into a fit of laughter (trying so hard to stifle it, unsuccessfully) all of them with tears streaming down their face and having trouble catching their breath. I wanted to laugh along too and even did a little (contagious as laughter is) as I kept trying to get them to tell me what was so damn funny.

Do you know why they were laughing? Because, according to them, this is "old man music." It made me have pouty lips. And then I admonished them, "It's not nice to mock others' musical taste." They still couldn't stop laughing.

28 comments:

Ed said...

So next time give them a shock with Justin Timberlake's "Bringin' Sexy Back"
Gawd What a fool believes is old man music, still it wouldn't hurt them to learn it.

Lemuel said...

Send them to me. I'll play them "old man music"! LOL!

Just wait, Torn. Hold on to that tune. It will come back as a classic and then you'll be the hit.

Doug said...

I've met quite a few teenagers who were into classic rock (I mean 60's and 70's stuff).

Cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia said...

oh please go too far with this, please? next time make it the carpenters. or donny & marie. anything to make them pay for that comment!

Cooper said...

You totally rock as a teacher! Seriously. Even though I've never heard of that song, at least I don't think I have. I do, however, love Diana Krall!

Christie said...

Try to find some hip hop with clear lyrics.. Good luck with that one!

Laverne said...

But it's a classic! Seriously.

I think the Andrew Sisters or Billie are next in line, don't you?

How about this video?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCF3ywukQYA

My students were talking about it, so I had to go and look it up on youtube.

Polt said...

"it made me have pouty lips"...

That drove me into fits of laughter. Course, it might be kinda hot to SEE you with pouty lips.....

HUGS...

birdoparadise said...

Get used to it, old man. But be proud of what you like; the heck with 'em. My daughter has seen the light and decided that my music is actually pretty good. (What can I say? She has great taste.) But my son sighs, rolls his eyes and returns to his "death metal" music.

How 'bout this: find a Sigur Ros track (which is Icelandic) and make up lyrics to the sounds you hear. Let them figure out the missing words to that. Wait! Better yet: play William Shatner's "Mr. Tambourine Man." There is no better song (for lack of a better word) for revenge. Pure agony for the ears, and you can hear every word.

;-D Birdie

Paul said...

In my college Spanish class we had to transcribe entire songs. It was tough!

You'd sit there in the lab with headphones on playing songs over and over, thinking "what the heck are they singing?"

And it would remind me that my mother could never even understand the words to songs by The Beatles.

Dantallion said...

Please post a pic of you with pouty lips. That was such a funny visual.

Lewis said...

I'm in love with OLD MAN MUSIC. It's the stuff that dreams are made of.

Truthspew said...

Nice concept. Music is interesting as what we have today builds on that of yesterday.

If I might simplify it for you, you don't need to use cassette tapes particularly since those have pretty much gone the way of the dodo.

There's a free app called Audacity that lakes you take in and edit tracks in MP3 format. That way you could bleep out the words automatically, add delays, etc.

GayProf said...

What a great idea for learning language! Music is so important, yet it is rarely covered in language classes.

Maybe you should plug into this century, though. Get a little hip-hop/soul going through the class. How about Ashanti's "Foolish?" Or Teairra Marí's "New Shit?" Or Eamon's "Fuck It?" Now there is a vocabulary they can use!

Ed said...

Oh please next time have the class learn a song by the Mama's and the Papa's. Nobody can tell ya there's only one song worth singing...

Steven said...

You must have been out of "pink slips" that day. Brittany Spears is always a winner. ACK!

Cameron said...

Differences in musical taste has always been fodder for "The Generation Gap".

Remember how our parents didn't like the Beatles?

...and now here *WE* are our parents' age.

I think it's an interesting phenomenon that a lot of people's musical tastes somehow become "frozen" in their 30s, and remain fairly constant for the rest of their lives.

bardelf said...

Hell, just because you're playing music that is 20 years old and on cassette, doesn't make you an old man. ; )

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Give them all the "F" they deserve.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

And you can't get upset, because now you're a Grumpy old man, which is even worse than being a good humored old man.
Flunk all their sorry little twerp asses.

Devo said...

I love this idea for learning language!! I am unfamiliar with the song but it so indicative of youth to laugh at another's musical tastes!! I want to see the pouty lips too!! hehe.

Perplexio said...

My wife teases me about my musical tastes. She's asked me on a few occasions if I happen to own any music that was recorded within the past 10 years. Honestly the answer is "very little" with most of the music I listen to having been recorded 1990 or earlier.

She refers to it as "old fogey" music. Much of the music I listen to and love was recorded either before I was born or while I was still in diapers... But I guess that's what one gets with parents over 40 years their senior and siblings anywhere from 12 to 18 years older...

em said...

It's only going to get worse from here. Eduardo is cultivating crusty, did I tell you? it's beautiful to watch him embrace the old guy within him. Beautiful. Of course he gets cranky from time to time.

abnitude said...

that sounds like a great way to teach language. get the cake version of i will survive..very edgy and clear. maybe you will regain your hip status..lol

dirk.mancuso said...

I remember my German teacher doing something similar with "Lady in Red" by Chris DeBurgh.

Next time try "Baby Got Back" or "Hit Me Baby One More Time" -- I think that is what all the young people are listening to these days...

Patrick said...

Ouch. This has particular relevance for me, since the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" happens to be the very song I ever bought with my own money. I got it on a 45. Dear god, how many of your students would even know what the hell that was? I was in the seventh grade. When I put that song on at my party, everyone got up to dance.

I'm glad I didn't see this before I went out last night. I met friends at a club that plays 80s music on Fridays. I'm pretty sure I was the oldest person in the group, possibly one of the oldest in the room. I was dancing to music from high school and college. I realize now most of them, much as they were enjoying it, were dancing to Oldies.

Patrick said...

Very FIRST song, that is. Dancing last night obviously made me too groggy to proofread. I'm an old, old man.