Listening Guide 2018

Lesson Plan

By Claire K.

  • Students will have a better understanding of the music and history behind the music played by Janet Planet and the Green Bay Jazz Orchestra.
Standards and Benchmarks addressed
  • Analyze the pieces being played.
Curriculum connection
  • Bob Dylan’s music
  • One to two class periods
  • Students will listen to the pieces and find the most important parts, and learn about the history of the songs.
Materials and resources
Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright
  • The melody and lyrics of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” are derived from Paul Clayton’s “Whose Going to Buy You Ribbons Saw”. Clayton’s song came from an old folk tune “Whose Going to Buy You Chickens When I’m Gone?”. If you listen to the lyrics and compare the first thirty seconds of each song you can hear the similarity. This caused conflict, as Dylan had taken lyrics and melody from another song without giving any credit to the original composer. Although folk music regularly borrows from other songs, Dylan gave no credit and even copyrighted it for himself. Clayton pursued a lawsuit and won, gaining recognition for his contribution.
  • “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” is hailed as a classic break-up song. The lyrics portray a broken and conflicted heart, leading to several contractionary emotions and statements in the lyrics. This folk tune was a hit for Dylan and has been covered by several famous artists, including Johnny Cash, Cher, and Ke$ha. They, of course, put their own spin on it.
  • What do you think of the different versions of this folk tune?  Which is your favorite and why?
A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall
  • “Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall” was written in a time when nuclear war felt imminent. This song was used as both a warning and a protest: between “I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests, I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans” and “the pellets of poison are flooding their waters”, Dylan warns “A Hard Rains a Gonna Fall”. Dylan himself spoke about the lyrics "Every line in it is actually the start of a whole song, but when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn't have enough time alive to write all those songs, so I put all I could into this one." The song is one of Dylan’s biggest hits, it’s contradictory lyrics and bold statements enticed people. It began a long history of songs about war, protest, and the end of times. Dylan has said that he needs to speak about darkness as he sees it and when he sees it, which he definitely does in this song.  Like many of his songs, it was covered by several artists, including Jason Mraz and Walk Off the Earth.
  • Dylan uses only a guitar to accompany his unique voice; how does this transfer to the full big band? Compare this clip and what you hear from the band.

Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat
  • “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” was a song of its time. In the 1960’s a Pillbox Hat was very fashionable for women to wear; it was classy and could be seen on the likes of Jackie Kennedy. The scandalous part of Dylan’s song was the “Leopard Skin” which was seen as trashy or vulgar.  The song talks about a woman sarcastically, with tongue-in-cheek humor and generally alludes to the fact that she is vain, but doesn’t have a right to be. Lyrics like “Yes, I just wanna see, if it’s really that expensive kind, you know it balances on your head just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine” and “You might think he loves you for your money, but I know what he really loves you for, it’s your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat” show us what Dylan really thinks of this woman wearing a leopard skin pillbox hat. Dylan is mocking high society and materialism, and also those who wish they were in high society. Although Dylan claimed that the song was about no one in particular, it’s rumored to be about Edie Sedgwick.
  • How can you convey these feelings when playing?
  • This song is another example of Dylan’s tendency to borrow from other songs. “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” was influenced by Lightnin' Hopkins's "Automobile Blues". Listen to these clips and compare the two songs.
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat lyrics:        Automobile Blues lyrics:
Well I, see you got your                               I saw you ridin' 'round
Brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat              You ridin' in your brand new automobile
Yes I, see you got your                                          Yes, I saw you ridin' 'round You was ridin' 'round
Brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat              In your brand new automobile
Well, you must tell me, baby how your          Yes, you was happy sittin' there
Head feels under somethin’ like that             With your handsome driver at the wheel
Under your brand new                                  In your brand new automobile
leopard-skin pill-box hat

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here
  • “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here” is a new kind of love song for Dylan. Many times in his love songs there’s conflict and Dylan often leaves, but in this song he assures his love that he’s staying. Similar to his earlier songs, he mentions a train, but this time he doesn’t want to be on it. He says, “throw my ticket out the window, throw my suitcase out there too, throw my troubles out the door, I don’t need them anymore.” This implies he’s staying with her for a long time, not just through the night as the title states. He also talks about how he’s “waited all day long for tonight when I’ll be staying here with you” which can be interpreted in a more metaphorical way, that he’s been waiting a long time to meet this woman, sort of a “where have you been all my life?”
  • This song already has a very bluesy, jazz style to it but Janet Planet adds even more of a jazz groove to it. Listening to these two examples, can you hear the differences? How does she achieve this? (rhythmically, instrumentation, melodically, etc) How could you achieving this in your own playing?
  • Compare the other two songs to Janet Planet’s recording and describe how she achieved her jazzy feel.

Assessment—How will I know students have learned?
  • They way they answer questions should be based on historical and technical details.
After concert assessment (link to PDF assessment)