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How much did you get for your soul?

10 Oct

Plugged in an old cassette I compiled three decades ago, and there was this song by The Pretenders. Driving the dark roads to pick up my daughter from an outing, listening carefully to the lyrics, thinking about various issues in the media, about my findings on No Child Left Behind and the Common Core standards, about the need for and lack of mentoring for young people by teachers, as a continuation of parental and community mentoring, in ethical development (rigor and grit being inadequate), I thought what a great addition this song could be to a discussion of ethical dilemmas that could come up in college and career (inquiry based learning in the name of college and career readiness), that various historical and contemporary persons had encountered and handled in various ways. Beautifully arranged as a treelike poem by AZ Lyrics website:

Hey baby
I wanna know
How much
Did you get for your soul?
You had the gospel
When you were shackled to a tree
Now you’ve got your freedom
You sing for the money
Soul
Soul
Soul
Soul
How much did ya
How much did ya
How much did ya get?

Hey babe
Tell me please
How much
Did you get for that sleaze?
You finally made it
Right up to the top
Millions of kids are looking at you
You say let them drink soda pop
Soul
Soul
Soul
Soul
How much did ya
How much did ya
How much did ya get?

Who’s got soul?
Who’s got soul?
From the African nation
To the Pepsi generation
Who’s got soul?
Who’s got soul?

It dwell from tree to sea
Every living entity
Share the super soul
We got super soul
Who’s got soul?
Who could think that you’re for real –
A puppet in a cabaret
To increase your wealth
Baby realize yourself

Hey baby
I wanna know
From the ‘a-go-go’ to the disco
Where did you really go?
You finally made it
You’re gonna make it rich
As long as some poor bastard in Africa
Is lying in a ditch
Soul
Soul
Soul
Soul
How much did ya
How much did ya
How much did ya get?

–The Pretenders

In my experience, teens around twelve and up are moving into the stage of being able to handle this kind of deep stuff. What used to be called “values clarification.” Not to be taken lightly, such discussions, and not as a way to push one’s personal agenda, except the one for which I will not apologize: to help kids realize their free agency, their responsibility, their impending entrance ever deeper into an economy which is not morally neutral, and into college and care prep programs which feed into that economy, or mold it, or sustain it, or transform, or resist, and art being such a powerful force in waking us up to all this.

History, literature, science, what’s in the textbooks and what they tell us and show us in the student assemblies and special talks by the school counselor, what parents have to say and how they live at home and in the work place, all tied in. Some of us adults having a longer view, and starting to see what questions need to be asked, and confessions made, by our generation, and on behalf of our parents and grandparents. Which is my reason for not feeling like I’m too old to go into full time teaching, and maybe some people are actually too young, those who have never been a parent or traveled or suffered, or read what wasn’t assigned for a class.

 

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One response to “How much did you get for your soul?

  1. jdawgsrunningblog

    October 11, 2014 at 5:13 am

    I think i wanted you to link the lyrics–and hear more of your own thinking applied to it—specific to certain highlighted sections.

     

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