Images of America -

Analyzing Music Videos: Other Videos

Integrated U. S. History and American Literature Class
Deborah Aufdenspring and Sandra Mings-Lamar

New Technology High School, Napa, CA

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Other Videos

There are twelve other videos on this year's class tape. Some are third generation copies and a little blurry. If you wish to analyze one these videos, and the screen is not sharp enough, please see Ms. A for the master copy.

Babyface with Stevie Wonder.....Dean Miller.....John Michael Montgomery
Lee Greenwood.....Billy Joel (Leningrad).....Billy Ray Cyrus.....John Anderson
Garth Brooks (We Shall Be Free),(The Change)
Bruce Springsteen (Born in the USA),(War),(Atlantic City)

"How Come How Long" - Babyface with Stevie Wonder

This is a very topical video about violence toward women. What is the title of the video asking? How come what? How long what? What does your research show about the social problem addressed by this video?

What do you think contributes to the problem? What do you think might help solve the problem? What do Babyface and Stevie Wonder think will help?

A common image in this video is reflections, reflections in the eyes, reflections on ceiling fan blades, etc. Why was this image chosen? How does the weather in the outside scenes contribute to the video? There are several brief shots of people in the opening of the video. Who are they? What did they do in the video?

The ending of this video is ironic - the ending is different from what you might expect. Why is it ironic? What recent legal developments have spoken to this issue?

Some images in "How Come How Long" are in direct contrast to the images in "Nowhere USA" (the following video). Contrast the two.


"Nowhere USA" - Dean Miller

On the surface, this is a typical country music video about small town life in the "good old USA." But the images are much deeper than the lyrics. Where is Miller's small town likely to be located? What do the images say about how both country music and small town Amrica are changing? What are the "country values" that Miller's lyrics talk about? How do the images support this?

Interview somebody from a small town. How accurate is the video?

Some images in "Nowhere USA" are in direct contrast to the images in "How Come How Long" (the preceding video). Contrast the two.


"No Man's Land" - John Michael Montgomery

In this video, Mr. Montgomery pays tribute to single mothers who have overcome danger and difficulty. The phrase "no man's land" is usually used to indicate a place full of danger and difficulty. Is the title also partly a pun? What social problems cause single motherhood? What are the causes of these problems? Can society change to solve these problems? How?

The photograph of Jaqueline Kennedy is one of several that refer to historical events associated with the video's theme of single motherhood. Can you find others? What do they show?

One of the recurring images in this video is broken windows? What does this image mean? What other images are used? Why an iron? Add 2 or 3 more.


"God Bless the USA" - Lee Greenwood

Love of country is the bottom line in Lee Greenwood's video. What images represent that? Many of the images are designed to evoke the past. The image of the family and neighbors around the table is evocative of what famous American artist from the 1930's to the early 1960's? Where on the internet can you find out about that artist?

What picture is pointed out in the photo album? What message from the lyrics does this underscore. Who do you think the young man is? Compare the message of this video with Billy Ray Cyrus's "Some Gave All" video (see below).

Why are there "Public Auction" signs visible at the end of the video? Would most farmers have Mr. Greenwoods attitudes?

"Leningrad" - Billy Joel

This video focuses on children -- children growing up in the United States, and children growing up in the USSR/Russia, from WW2 in the 1940s to those growing up in the 1980s. The very end of the video shows the theme of the video -- reconciliation. Part of your analysis of this video should be a consideration of the the validity of Billy Joel's theme. Is reconciliation between these two countries possible and/or advisable? What recent news stories back up your conclusion about this question?


"Some Gave All" - Billy Ray Cyrus

Billy Ray Cyrus's video is a tribute to Americans who died fighting in various wars, and to veterans of those wars who returned. A simple explanation of the song and video is that the dead gave all and veterans gave some, but other images in the video show a variety of people who gave some or all. Who were they? Are there some people who gave some or all that Mr. Cyrus left out?

The opening image of a flag at half mast, combined with the video being shot in black and white gives the video a particular tone. What is that?

The name "Sandy Caine" is mentioned twice in the video. Who do you think he was?

The video is full of imagery. Some images are: Cyrus's T-shirt; the mother of a veteran; people watching TV in the late '60's / early 70's. What other images are significant? Why? Why were these images chosen?

"We Shall Be Free" - Garth Brooks

Mr. Brooks, himself, describes this video as a tribute to the inner strenth and inner courage of humans. Of all the videos, it is the least political, and the easiest to analyze. The images are often stark, often touching, and range through a great variety of national and international issues including, racism, reconciliation, the importance of families, caring, religion, police brutality, poverty, and more.

"Born In the USA" and "War" - Bruce Springsteen

These relatively old videos (some of the earliest made) have only a few context rich images. Their themes, however are both clear and political. In an interesting historical error, President Reagan recommended "Born in the USA" to US teenagers for what he believed was its pro-USA, patriotic views. What is a patriotic view? Is there one patriotic view? Many? What is the difference between patriotic and unpatriotic? These are some of the questions you should consider when you analyze this video.

Because they have few images, the two videos above should be analyzed together.

"The Change" - Garth Brooks

Unlike most of the other videos, this one focuses on one tragic historical event. The lyrics, however, extend the meaning beyond the event to a more encompassing theme. In analyzing the video, you need to analyze the history behind the event. What happened in Oklahoma City and, most especially, why? What does Mr. Brooks think did change? What will not change, according to Mr. Brooks? What does this say about Mr. Brooks' view of the United States and its people? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

"Atlantic City" - Bruce Springsteen

This is the most difficult video to analyze. It deals with the influence of the gambling industry on the culture and life of Atlantic City. Anaysis of the video needs to include the history of the gambling industry on politics and life. Who controls the industry? What are the connections between the industry and politics? How has the face of the city changed since gambling was legalized? How have people's lives and incomes changed?

Select this video only if you are up to a challenge. When grading your project, the difficulty of the video will be considered.

"Seminole Wind" - John Anderson

This video, approved by the Seminole Nation, pays tribute to the Seminoles and their native land. Analysis of the video should include information about what Anderson is saying about the Seminoles and the United States. What do you think Anderson's theme is? What is happening in the Everglades? What images are images of the tribe's history? Which images are modern? How does Anderson put these images together? Do old and new fit together well in the video? Do they fit together easily in real life?

Quick Links

Introduction - Analyzing Music Videos
Music Video Assignment
Analysis Tips
Comparing and Contrasting Music Videos
Grading Rubric

Stills of Sample Videos, with Sample Analysis Questions:
Billy Joel.....Erykah Badu.....Pop up Videos.....Tracy Lawrence

Rage Against the Machine.....Vince Gill.....Van Halen.....Aqua.....12 other videos

For Teachers...

For examples of recent student projects on analyzing music videos:
Student Work

E-mail me.

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