I need some songs that go with the important moments in Of Mice and Men.

To find songs that fit the important moments in Of Mice and Men, consider both thematically-appropriate works and music from the time period in which the story takes place.

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To find music that fits Of Mice and Men, one fun option would be to explore music from the 1930s, the time period when the book itself takes place. The Internet Archive, an open-source cultural repository, has some great playlists of early-twentieth-century music that would be a great start—here's one featuring music from the 1920s and 30s. Based on the titles, you may notice some familiar themes that reflect some of what you see in the book. Though the specific conflicts in Of Mice and Men are unique to George and Lennie, their life circumstances were very familiar to many who lived in that time period. Much of the music from that era reflects this struggle.

In your question, you specify that the songs should go with the book's important moments—what constitutes an important moment is probably up to an individual's discretion, and you'll have to decide which moments in the narrative speak most strongly to you. The good news is that many of the themes in Of Mice and Men are fairly universal, which means that they'll be easy to find represented in music from just about any era.

Here are a few examples you might consider that speak to significant elements of the narrative:

To reference the book's setting and its focus on the difficult lives of agricultural workers during the Great Depression, you might put Neil Young's "Harvest," Gillian Welch's "One More Dollar," or Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row."

Since George and Lennie spend a lot of time thinking about what life might be like someday, consider songs that focus on aspiration or hope—Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" is one classic option, and Sharon Van Etten's "One Day" is great if you'd like something more contemporary. Since Steinbeck threads discussion of dreams through the narrative, you might also try Otis Redding's "I've Got Dreams to Remember" or Blondie's "Dreaming."

For the book's emotional climax—George's mercy killing of his best friend, Lennie—you might consider songs that deal specifically with feelings of regret, endings, or brotherhood. Fiona Apple's "Regret," St. Vincent's "Strange Mercy," Glen Hansard's "Brother's Keeper," and John Prine's "Summer's End" are all great options.

Good luck!

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I love the assignment idea - I may try it with my students! in the meantime, here are some of my ideas

‘Fix You’ by Coldplay would be excellent for the scene where George tends Lennie’s wounds after Curley’s attack. This is a slow and tender song and would emphasise the depth of their relationship and George's compulsion to defend Lennie.

 ‘California Dreamin’’ by the Mamas and the Papas would work as they travel to the ranch

I would go with the Simon and Garfunkel 'America' too.

I will keep thinking about this one - I may be back!


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I will try to identify about seven songs that hit many of the themes Steinbeck drives home, but also are a bit off of the beaten path, so you might have to forge some...

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more links on your own, if you choose to use them.

1.  "America" by Simon and Garfunkel- The song speaks to much of what American sojourners are in search.  "I've come to look for America."  Certainly, George and Lennie are in search of America.

2.  "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.- There is an overwhelmingly painful theme to this song, but also a striking call to a redemptive spirit that might by subterranean in Steinbeck's work.  Despite cruelty, Steinbeck seems to be indicating a hope to avoid it.

3.  "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" by Pet Shop Boys- Yeah, this is Lennie's theme.

4.  "Where did you sleep last night" by Nirvana or "Mother" by John Lennon- Both songs deal with disloyalty and the hurt and anger that accompanies the breakage of human bonds.  Both songs have a great combination of hurt- filled anger or anger filled hurt.

5.  "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan- I think Dylan's cutting and bruising approach to disloyal people speaks loudly to Steinbeck's ideas.

6.  "Beyond the Blue Horizon" by Lou Christie- As Steinbeck speaks to the new America of the 20th century out west, this song has a great combination of hope and melancholy, despair and progress.  A personal favorite!

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Since Woody Guthrie was an itinerant folk singer during the Depression who suffered as so many had, he seems a likely choice for your soundtrack to illustrate the setting, themes, and characters of "Of Mice and Men."  On the jacket of the cd, perhaps a picture of a solitary man, dusty from the lonely road he has traveled, looks mournfully at the camera.  Or one of the famous photographs from the Depression taken by Margaret Bourke-White would be great.

Here is a list of some of Woody Guthrie's songs:

  1. This Land is Your Land - this fits Steinbeck's theme of the brotherhood of men in "Of Mice and Men"
  2. "Pastures of Plenty" - the lyrics speak of working and working in California, but "my pastures of plenty must always be free."  This song evokes the "dream" of George and Lennie to have a place of their own.
  3. "Jesus Christ" - This is a song about the importance of activism, a cause celebre of John Steinbeck.
  4. "Union Burying Ground" - This song, too, speaks out for the people who fought to improve the workers' conditions.  Steinbeck, a socialist, believed as Guthrie did.
  5. "My Battle" - "Show me how, how to fight my battle in life/Show me how to fight/And I'll run away with you" - good for several scenes such as the confrontation between Curley and Lennie
  6. "Better World" - good for Lennie's death.  "There's a better world that's a'coming/ I'll tell you why, why, why....When we'll all be union/And we'll all be free.
  7. "Lonesome Valley" - "You gotta walk that lonesome valley/You gotta walk by yourself"-good for George as he walks back with Slim after shooting Lennie. 

(Woody Gurthrie's lyrics can be easily accessed on the internet.)

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I would use "You're My Best Friend" by Queen to express the theme of friendship in the novel. It's a little cheesy, but I think it fits. "Oh, The Glorious" by Brett Dennen would also be a good "growing up" song for Lenny. You could actually do this entire assignment using only Beatles songs. Using only one artist who has a huge repertoire might be a fun idea. This sounds like a fun project. Could you post the actual assignment?

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eNotes has a great list of themes for Of Mice and Men:

Idealism vs. RealityAlienation and LonelinessRace and RacismClass Conflict(Mental) DisabilityLoyaltyFriendship

I'm not really up on who the latest singers and songs are, but if you know the themes from the novel you will have an easier time selecting songs and artists. Good luck with your assignment!

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