What type of songs could best fit Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since Of Mice and Men is set in the 1930's/the Depression Era, folk music from this era would befit Steinbeck's themes.

One musician who captured the feelings and mood of the times was Woody--Woodrow Wilson--Guthrie. His mother was from Kansas and his father was from Oklahoma, where the family lived in the town of Okeham, an oil town. The father was prosperous, having speculated in land during the oil boom, but lost everything when this boom ended. Since he had to work in Texas to repay his debts, Woody, who was fourteen years old, and his siblings were left on their own since their mother had to be institutionalized for a neurological disease which would later kill Woody, too. Having inherited the musical talent of both parents, Woody developed his social conscience early as he worked odd jobs and honed his skills as a guitarist after being taught by his uncle. He became a composer of folk songs. With personal experience of the Dustbowl and poverty, he developed a wanderlust and rode the rails with many a bindle stiff as in Steinbeck's novella.

Guthrie gave voice to the victims of the Dust Bowl and the migrant workers. As a migrant worker himself, Woody sang in the camps. His most famous song, "This Land is Your Land" became a national anthem of sorts.
Here are some others:

  • "Do Re Mi" - Do Re Mi was a reference to money and the song was written about all those who came to California in search of work
  • "Ain't Got No Home in This World " - This song focused on the tragedy of homelessness.
  • "Going Down the Road Feelin' Bad"

Another genre of music appropriate of Of Mice and Men is Country Western. One great song for Steinbeck's narrative was written by Hank Williams: 

  • "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"

Bob Dylan was greatly influenced by Woody Guthrie. Here is one song of his that is appropriate to Steinbeck's novel:

  •  "Man of Constant Sorrows" 
Read the study guide:
Of Mice and Men

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