The Poetics of Popular Music

Response #4 (5%) – “What’s in a Name?”

Length: 300-350 words +/- (not counting the lyrics)

One thing that has long been common in all genres of popular music is titling a song with the name of a person (or place). There are a few in our coursepack including “Jolene” and “Bernadette”. More often than not, the names used are female and – again, more often than not – the accompanying lyrics fall under the broad category of “love song” – though, of course, not always.

Analyze one song not in the coursepack through the lyricist’s/lyricists’ choice of titling the song with a name. What are we told about the person named? What is their relation to the speaker – or are they the speaker? Unlike songs that use “he/she/we/us”, what is the effect on the reader of having a name to connect to what is being discussed?

Note: Don’t just say that this choice of naming makes the song “more specific” – of course it does (well, to a point). Why it does is much more worthy of analysis.

Quote the lyrics directly and make clear connections. Also, you must make direct and clear references to at least one technique used by the lyricist(s) and its effect on the lyrics as a whole.

Remember: we’re thinking exclusively of the lyrics here. How the song is sung, its genre, etc. are, as always, irrelevant and should not be considered.

Lastly, as always, choose your words carefully.

Please include the lyrics in full (which will not be part of your word count) after your responses.

• 12 point font
• double-spaced
• To be handed in at the beginning of class 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 25th.

Questions? MIO me, Neil Briffett, anytime.