Music Homework Assignment

Teachers Instruction

Bob Marley’s song I Shot the Sheriff describes a violent altercation between a citizen and law enforcement personnel. This song is hardly unique in this respect. Indeed, the rebellious, antiauthoritarian sentiment common to many strains of American popular music often expresses itself through physical conflict. Yet the mainstream cultural reaction to this material is highly varied.
Consider three popular music songs: Woody Guthrie’s Pretty Boy Floyd (1941), Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff (1973), and Body Count’s Cop Killer (1992). Listen to all three songs and read the lyrics carefully. Research the critical reaction to these songs and answer the following questions:
What are the important similarities and differences in these songs? Consider the perspective of the song. Is it told from the first-person perspective or third-person perspective? Are the law enforcement figures “good guys” or “bad guys?” What action precipitates the violence in each of these songs? What was the popular reaction to these songs? How would you account for any differences in the way mainstream culture reacted to these songs? Are songs like this a reaction to violent cultural conditions or do they create violent conditions (or both)?

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Please Remember to Cite Your Sources. This includes albums or tracks that you listen to in order to complete the project, especially if you quote lyrics, etc. I am looking for a thoughtful, engaging discussion on any of the topics below. There are no right or wrong answers, only strong or weak arguments.

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