This is the "1-4 "Tell Me Something Good": Music & the Language Arts" page of the "Rockin' the Schools" guide.
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1-4 "Tell Me Something Good": Music & the Language Arts Print Page




"Tell Me Something Good": Music & the Language Arts

Suggested Grade Level: 1-4

This research guide serves as a resource for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Education Department course, "Tell Me Something Good": Music & the Language Arts. For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see

Many songs tell stories, describing characters and their adventures in particular places at particular times.  This class looks at some of the great stories of rock and roll and examines how lyrics can establish a setting, introduce characters, and develop a plot.  Through exciting recorded performances by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees like Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, and Chuck Berry, and the Police, students learn how narrative can be developed.  They will act out undersea adventures on a “Yellow Submarine” and imagine what it would be like to be “Johnny B. Goode” by drawing what they hear and read in the lyrics, all while learning to summarize and retell the stories told through rock and roll.


Search the Catalog

Click here for search tips and how to use the catalog!

Search Tips

Our catalog has a subject category for "Inductee." If you enter this term in the search box and choose "Subject" in the dropdown box, you will retrieve information on our resources that are related to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.

Limit your search by using the facets on the left of your screen in the library catalog, i.e. Format:

- Book
- Archival Collection
- Archival Item
- Audio
- Video
- Score
- Periodical
- Map



    These research databases can be accessed within the Library and Archives.

    • MLA International Bibliography
      Provides a classified listing and subject index for books and articles published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics. This database annually indexes over 50,000 journal articles, books, and dissertations.
    • American Song
      Hear and feel the music from America's past right up to recent additions including Motown, Jimi Hendrix, the Mamas and the Papas, and other artists from the rock era. There are songs by and about American Indians, miners, immigrants, slaves, children, pioneers, and cowboys; songs of Civil Rights, political campaigns, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War; and every great American genre is here—from folk and blues to country, gospel, and rock.
    • Rock's Backpages
      Rock’s Backpages is the largest database of rock journalism online, featuring 17,000+ articles on numerous artists. The archive draws on numerous publications from Creem and Trouser Press to Rolling Stone, and from New Musical Express and MelodyMaker to MOJO. It is fully searchable by artist, genre, writer or keyword (allowing search by album or single title, date, etc). Rock's Backpages also features a library of over 100 audio interviews.
    • RILM Abstracts of Musical Literature
      Comprehensive international guide to writings about music. Covers articles from more than 5,200 journals, books, conference proceedings, dissertations, reviews, and catalogs in over 100 languages.

    For Your Students

    Cover Art
    The Beatles - Mike Venezia
    Call Number: ML421.B438 V46 1997
    Tells the story of the world's most celebrated and influential rock group

    Cover Art
    Margaret Sutton - We love you, Beatles
    Call Number: ML421.B438 S888 1971
    Brief illustrated biography of the four Beatles



    These resources, pulled from class discussion and selected from the Library and Archives' collections, will help you to:

    • Respond to stories told in songs by summarizing main ideas, noting significant details, and supporting interpretations with references to text (both lyrically and musically).
    • Identify narrative elements (characters, setting, point of view) and retell the plot sequence.
    • Explain how an author’s choice of words expresses ideas, appeals to the senses, and suggests mood.


    Cover Art
    Aretha Franklin - Mark Bego
    Call Number: ML420.F7362 B44 2001
    With unique access to key figures in Aretha's past, and a new chapter revealing the most recent events both personal and professional in the life of the diva, this is the definitive biography of the woman who captivated the music world of the early fifties and became a star.

    Cover Art
    Lyrics - Sting
    Call Number: ML54.6.S756 L97 2007
    Lyrics written by Sting--for the band the Police and for his solo projects--with his commentary

    Cover Art
    Reading Song Lyrics - Lars Eckstein
    Call Number: ML2800 .E35 2010
    Reading Song Lyrics offers the first systematic introduction to lyrics as a vibrant genre of (performed) literature. It takes lyrics seriously as a complex form of verbal art that has been unjustly neglected in literary, music, and, to a lesser degree, cultural studies, partly as it cuts squarely across institutional boundaries.

    Cover Art
    Rock is beautiful : an anthology of American lyrics - Stephanie Spinner
    Call Number: ML54.6 R63 1970
    LYRICS to over 80 classic songs written & performed by American songwriters dating from 1953 - 1968. Includes many songs & performers that are classic standards today - and many that are virtually unknown.

    Cover Art
    Tell Me Why - Tim Riley
    Call Number: ML421.B438 R55 1988
    A unique combination of musical analysis and cultural history, Tell Me Why stands alone among Beatles books with its single-minded focus on the most important aspect of the band: its music.

    Cover Art
    Things We Said Today - Colin B. Campbell; Allan Murphy
    Call Number: ML54.6.B438 T45 1980
    Complete lyrics and a concordance to the Beatles' songs, 1962-1970

    Cover Art
    Written in My Soul - Bill Flanagan
    Call Number: ML390 .F53 1986
    Bill Flanagan, who would go on to create VH1 Storytellers and CMT Crossroads, spoke about songwriting and creativity with Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Joni Mitchell, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Bono and nineteen more music legends. It is a look at rock & roll history from inside the heads of the people who made it.



    Cover Art
    Best of Chuck Berry - Chuck Berry
    Call Number: CD BERR CHUC 1999

    Cover Art
    Reggatta de blanc - the Police
    Call Number: CD POLI REGG 1984

    Cover Art
    Yellow submarine - the Beatles
    Call Number: CD BEAT YELL 2009



    Cover Art
    The Beatles: the mini documentaries - the Beatles
    Call Number: DVD BEAT BEAT-M 2009

    Cover Art
    Chuck Berry, rock and roll music - Chuck Berry
    Call Number: DVD BERR ROCK 2001

    Cover Art
    Every breath you take - the Police
    Call Number: DVD POLI EVER 2003

    Cover Art
    Songmakers Collection
    Call Number: DVD VAR SONGM 2001

    Cover Art
    Yellow submarine - George Dunning
    Call Number: BRD FIC YELL 2012

    Archival Resources

    New to Archives? Check out:

    Below are descriptions of a few archival collections containing artist lyrics. Other collections can be found by following this link.

    • ARC-0043 Jimi Hendrix Lyrics
      This is Jimi Hendrix's original, handwritten lyrics to the song "Purple Haze" on crumpled, yellow note paper.
    • ARC-0087 LL Cool J Notebook
      The LL Cool J Notebook (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Collection), circa 1993, contains handwritten lyrics to songs from the album 14 Shots to the Dome, as well as information on tours and personal appearances, including the 35th Grammy Awards and the Arsenio Hall Show.
    • ARC-0095 Joe Walsh Lyrics
      The Joe Walsh Lyrics consist of handwritten and signed lyrics to "Life's Been Good."
    • ARC-0281 "Poetry of Popular Music" Course Materials
      The "Poetry of Popular Music" Course Materials consist of 156 1/4-inch audiotape reels containing music and interviews that supplemented the high school course, "Poetry of Popular Music," taught by Anthony C. Moore, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey from 1972 to 1998. The collection also contains documentation related to the "Poetry of Popular Music," including examples of the textbooks Moore created for the course, quizzes, student assignments, and permission requests to reproduce and publish song lyrics. The collection provides rich documentation and insight to the teaching of rock music at the high school level.
    • ARC-0407 Song Lyrics for "Home"
      The Song Lyrics for "Home" are a typed page, written by Justin Gorski in 2012.
    • ARC-0293 John Lennon Lyrics
      These are John Lennon's original typewritten lyrics and handwritten notes to "Woman is the Nigger of the World."

    Rock Hall Video: In the Museum

    Chuck Berry

    YouTube Videos

    Aretha Franklin, "Respect" (1990)

    The Police, "Message in a Bottle"

    The T.A.M.I. Show: Chuck Berry - "Johnny B. Goode"

    Beatles, "Yellow Submarine"
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum | Library and Archives
    2809 Woodland Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.515.1956 |

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