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Format: Typed, double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman.
Length: 3 to 4 pages (that means minimally a FULL 3 pages, not just on the third page).
Assignment: using the song from BOB DYLAN – ¨ House of the risin sun.
• Begin your essay with an introduction that a) explains why you chose that song and b) states your overall perspective on the song that you want to flesh out in detail in your essay.
• The body of your paper should consist of three strands (at least three paragraphs, in any order you desire):
1) First Strand: Place the song in historical context by doing background research on the song of your choice. Basically, become an expert on your song and tell me everything you can about it. If it’s a cover, how old is the original? Who wrote it? In what style? What was the context of the song? How has Dylan changed or honored the original? If it’s an original Dylan song, did he borrow the music from somebody? Can you discover anything about the background for the song, personal or historical? How does this matter for the song?
NOTE: For this strand, please use credible sources other than Wikipedia. You are welcome to use the internet, but look for articles and information that have some kind of official or authoritative status. Also see the bibliography at the end of the syllabus for book resources. Please cite your sources at the end of your essay.
2) Second Strand: Comment on the sonic qualities of the song. Try to characterize the sound of the recording. What instruments can you identify? Which sounds stand out? Describe the rhythm and tempo of the song (fast, slow, or mid-tempo), and the timbre (the quality of the sound: harsh, gentle, bright). Talk about how the sound matters for the overall tone and mood of the song.
3) Third Strand: Describe the lyrics. What are they about? Do they express emotions, sentiments, a story, or abstract ideas? Do the lyrics work on the page, outside of a musical setting? Do you think there is an important relationship between the lyrics and the music? Do the lyrics fit or break with expectations for popular music lyrics? What is unusual, “literary,” or baffling to you about Dylan’s use of words or the words of the song he covers?
• End your essay with a short conclusion about the afterlife or legacy of your song. You might address things such as a) covers of the song after Dylan, b) later songs that sound like your song, have similar themes or styles, or generally seem inspired by Dylan, c) Dylan’s history of performing the song, d) the song’s cultural relevance today—how it speaks to contemporary life.


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