No Song Left Behind!

This is a first year seminar I began in 2015, and taught for three years.  It was a writing-intensive course for entering students.  We explored how some songs endure for decades or even centuries.  The focus was more on the songs as created by the writers than the performances or recordings.  The writers ranged from J.S. Bach to Richard Thompson, with special notice to Pete Seeger, Johnny Mercer, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Stan Rogers, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Springsteen, and Joni Mitchell.  We explored how their work and life environments affected their songs, and tried to burrow beneath the pop music noise to hear the best and most enduring songs.  Students read cultural history, sociology, philosophy, criticism, and more.  The semester wound up with student teams producing and airing half-hour radio programs on Muhlenberg’s radio station WMUH-FM (the only station that matters!).  Muhlenberg attracts many students interested in music and theatre, and the course was a lively and enjoyable interchange.  In 2016, students heard a lecture by Ben Yagoda, author of “The B-Side,” and in 2017 had a video lecture by Tamara Saviano, author of “Without Getting Killed or Caught,” a biography of songwriter Guy Clark.

Click here for the 2017 reading list: NSLB Coursepack.072817