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I use Neil Young's "Old Man" to prepare the students for a journal assignment discussing the relationship between Jem and Atticus. We discuss Jem's on-again, off-again desire to be like Atticus. Specifically, we look at the passages in which Jem claims he doesn't want to be a lawyer anymore (when Atticus catches him playing the Radley game and outsmarts him into admitting what he was doing) and the pride Jem feels when Atticus shoots the dog.
The possibilities here are almost endless...
Johnny Cash's "Man in Black"--connections to Atticus's motivations in defending Tom Robinson.
R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion"--connections to the theme of loss of innocence.
John Lennon's "Imagine"--connections to Scout's realizations at the end of the novel as she looks out at Macomb from the Radley's front porch.
Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit"--connections to the lynch mob and the ultimate fate of Tom Robinson.
And finally two songs that were inspired by the artists' reading of Harper Lee's novel:
Angie Heiman's "What's to become of the Mockingbird" and The Drive By Truckers' "Mrs. Dubose."
Believe it or not, there have been at least two bands that decided to adopt the name Atticus Finch. One band released several albums between 1999-2005. There is currently another acoustic folk band of the same name based in Washington state. Philip Aaberg released a song called the "To Kill a Mockingbird Suite" on his album Field Notes (Sweetgrass Music, 2000). There have been at least 13 songs titled "Atticus" by various artists during the past 15 years. Another dozen songs have been written with "Boo Radley" in the title. The Canadian blues-rock power trio Wide Mouth Mason released a song titled "Tom Robinson" in 1997. Perhaps the best known band with a TKAM-themed name was The Boo Radleys, an English power-pop band of the 1990s.
I think that this is quite an interesting question. I definitely had to think for a bit about which songs I was going to choose before answering. But, here are a couple that I found that I think could work:
- Re-education by Rise Against: this song depicts inequality and unfairness and how some decide to stand up against it
- Off to the Races by Lana Del Rey: describes someone who wishes to be like their idol (an older man), works with Jem and Atticus
- Where I Live by Woodkid: describes the hardships an individual has to go through and the pain of growing up too fast
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