For ESL/EFL teachers looking for ways to tap student
with real-world text and audio that is supported by a
geopolitical context, there is good news: Neil
rocked in five different decades--is bringing out a
Young, whose musical tapestry spans from Buffalo
"For What It's Worth" to CSNY's "Ohio," has been
lyrics from his newest CD on a crawler at his Web
during the past five or
six days, and will be streaming full audio for free
from the site
beginning April 28th. Days later, the CD itself will
distributed nationwide and worldwide.
In "Families," Young puts into words the anguish of
and spouses whose fallen family members are deprived
of a public funeral ceremony.
When you try to bring our spirits home
Won't you celebrate our lives in a way that's
For our children and families...
In "Shock and Awe," the president is criticized
for a failed U.S. policy in Iraq.
Back in the days of "mission accomplished"
Our chief was landing on the deck
The sun was setting on a golden photo op
...Thousands of bodies in the ground
...No one sees them coming home that way
...Thousands of children scarred for life
Millions of tears for a soldier's wife
Both sides are losing now...
"Lookin' for a Leader" is a singularly upbeat
song--judging from the lyrics--in which Young
issues a hopeful call to a new generation of
Lookin' for a leader
to bring our country home
Re-unite the red, white and blue
Before it turns to stone
Lookin' for somebody
Young enough to take it on
Clean up the corruption
And make the country strong
...We're lookin' for a leader
With The Great Spirit on his side...
The lyrics of "After the Garden" seem
to suggest either a global environmental
disaster or the loss of a dream or ideal.
What will people do?
After the garden is gone
What will people say?
After the garden
...Where will the people go?
After the garden is gone
What will people know?
After the garden
In "The Restless Consumer," Neil Young
portrays a voracious American market
blinded to the conditions, aspirations,
and needs of the rest of the world's citizens.
The restless consumer flies
Around the world each day
With such an appetite for taste and grace
...The restless consumer lies
Asleep in her hotel
With such an appetite
for anything that sells
...A hundred voices from a hundred lands
Need someone to listen
People are dying here and there
They don't see the world the way you do
...But we don't talk to them
So we don't learn from them...
Another song that I am really interested
in hearing, when Neil Young's new album
begins streaming later this week, is "Flags
Flags that line old main street
Are blowin' in the wind
These must be the flags of freedom flyin'
Church bells are ringin'
As the families stand and wave
Some of them are cryin'
But the soldiers look so brave
Lookin' straight ahead
Like they know just where they're goin'
Past the flags of freedom flyin'
Sister has her headphones on
She hears the music blaring
She sees her brother marchin' by
Their bond is everlasting
Listening to Bob Dylan singin'
Watchin' the flags of freedom flyin'
...Have you seen the flags of freedom?
What color are they now?
Do you think that you believe in yours
More than they do theirs somehow?
The title song is "Living with War," one
of the most honest attempts by anyone I've
seen, to sew together the tattered strands of
Islamic rage, Western fear, and human urges towards both peace and violence.
I'm living with war every day
I'm living with war in my heart every day
I'm living with war right now
And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man
And on the flat-screen we kill and
we're killed again
And when the night falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace
I join the multitudes
I raise my hand in peace
I never bow to the laws of the thought police
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again...
In an interview on CNN last week, Neil
Young said, "No one owns the post-9-11
mentality," and insisted that true patriotism entails the belief that
everyone has the freedom of speech
to express their ideas.
One song whose lyrics had not yet
been posted the last time I checked,
on April 25th, is the one whose title
has most fully captured the attention
of the American public: "Impeach the
President." When asked what else the
song included, Young explained that
it was simply a list of reasons for
impeaching President George W. Bush.
"It's a long song," he added.
A national dialogue on today's U.S.
policy in the Middle East seems to be
forcing itself on the American media
and, ever so slowly, on the political
leaders of the United States.
It is a grassroots effort at raising
awareness and increasing our understanding
of the intended and unintended effects
of the invasion of Iraq, a military action that took place because the administration
was able to ignore the voices and warnings of millions of Americans and tens of millions of people around the world protesting for more peaceful, far-sighted solutions.
From what I've read, the new music by Neil Young is good old-fashioned "heavy metal" rock, which means it features his amazing talents on the electric guitar. Even if your taste goes more to the soothing tones of classical music, easy listening, or folk songs, there is something that seems right about an artist like Young using loud metal to express that he disagrees with an administration which has demonstrated itself to be somewhat tone-deaf and dogged in its persistence with a policy on terror that is falling apart.
No matter what our opinion is on the
war in Iraq, the war on terror, or other
pressing global, social, and political
issues, the new protest music from Neil Young provides themes for imaginative
teachers to use in setting up content-based, richly contextualized, English language learning activities.
That a rock-music elder felt inspired to
compose these new lines and promote
further dialogue on such vital matters
should be very motivating to anyone
who works in a knowledge-producing
profession like ESL/EFL teaching.
Let's see if we can experience, together
with our students, a real shift in
our mentality, opening new possibilities
and opportunities for creating solutions
and discovering further challenges that
keep us growing nearer to a full realization of our human potentials.
Article by Robb Scott
2006 ESL MiniConference Online