This is the "7-12 Women Who Rock: Songwriting & Point of View" page of the "Rockin' the Schools" guide.
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7-12 Women Who Rock: Songwriting & Point of View Print Page




Women Who Rock: Songwriting & Point of View

Suggested grade level: 7-12

This research guide serves as a resource for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Education Department course, Women Who Rock: Songwriting & Point of View. For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see

Songwriting is a powerful form of expression that allows musicians to convey personal feelings, describe the feelings of others and even depict political and social issues. In order to communicate their point of view, songwriters must successfully write lyrics using rhyme scheme, metaphors and poetic devices and compose music employing melody, harmony, form. In this class, students will explore different song writing techniques by female musicians from the 1960s until now in order to understand distinct musical styles and interpret point of view within cultural and historical terms. Students will analyze and contextualize the lyrics and music of the Crystals, Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith and Sara Bareilles, gaining new insight into the diverse roles that women play in the history of rock and roll.


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    • American Song
      Hear and feel the music from America's past, 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.
    • ArchiveGrid
      ArchiveGrid connects you with primary source material held in archives, special collections, and manuscript collections around the world. You will find historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more.
    • International Index to Music Periodicals
      This database provides indexing and abstracts for several hundred international music periodicals from over 20 countries, plus full text for more than 140 of the indexed journals. The database currently includes over 770,000 records, the majority from the most recent ten years of publication.
    • Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975
      Popular Culture explores the dynamic period of social, political and cultural change between 1950 and 1975. The resource offers thousands of color images of manuscript and rare printed material as well as photographs, ephemera, and memorabilia from this exciting period in our recent history. The Library and Archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum contributed over 7,000 items from its collections to the project. The database allows you to explore an interactive chronology to learn a wealth of fascinating facts, take a tour of the site's visual resources, and watch video footage to experience the spectacular sights and sounds of the period for yourself.
    • Rock's Back Pages
      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. Rock's Backpages also features a library of over 100 audio interviews.

    For Your Students

    Cover Art
    Girls Rock - Robyn Goodmark; Adrienne Yan (Illustrator); Kim Gordon (Foreword by)
    Call Number: ML3795 .G66 2008
    Explains how to form a rock band, choose a band name, work with other musicians, write songs, promote the band, and plan shows

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    The Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls - Carrie Brownstein (Foreword by); Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls Staff
    Call Number: ML3795 .R643 2008
    A guide to help female musicians find out how to form a band, play instruments, write songs, and other jobs in the field of rock music

    Cover Art
    Start Your Own Band - Marty Jourard
    Call Number: ML3790 .J68 1997
    Start Your Own Band gives you the inside dirt on finding the right equipment, songwriting basics, meeting and melding with band members, getting the most out of rehearsals, recording your music; finding the right professionals - agents, lawyers, publicists, studio technicians, and others - and not getting ripped off; the art of getting gigs; marketing and public relations 101; the pitfalls you may encounter - and how to avoid them; and much, much more!



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

    • Give examples of ways songwriters convey point of view
    • Interpret the lyrics of songs by applying knowledge of poetry and historical references, especially considering women’s positions in society throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
    • Identify songwriting elements, three major songwriters of American popular music and contextualize songwriting trends historically and culturally.


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    Aretha Franklin - Mark Bego
    Call Number: ML420.F7362 B44 2001
    Aretha Franklin's soulful voice has earned her fifteen Grammies and the honor of being the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. An uncompromising survivor, Aretha has stirred millions with her classic hits, including, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" and "Respect." But she has also faced daunting personal challenges: her mother's desertion; teenage pregnancy; several unhappy marriages; and a tragic shooting that led to the death of her father. 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.

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    Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace - Aaron Cohen
    Call Number: ML420.F7362 C64 2011
    For two days in January 1972, Aretha Franklin sang at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles while tape recorders and film cameras rolled. Everyone there knew the event had the potential to be historic: five years after ascending to soul royalty and commercial success, Franklin was publicly returning to her religious roots. Through new interviews, musical and theological analyses as well as archival discoveries, this book sets the scene, traces the recording’s traditional origins and pop infusions and describes the album’s enduring impact.

    Cover Art
    Guys Who Wrote 'Em - Sean Egan
    Call Number: ML390 .E33 2004
    Sean Egan's The Guys Who Wrote 'Em seeks to put right the lack of recognition for compositional geniuses who for most of their careers have chosen to use their musical skills to help not themselves but others achieve stardom. Amongst those to whom respected music journalist Egan has been granted access are Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Eddie and Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Bobby Hart, Joey Levine, Graham Gouldman, Chip Taylor, Tony Macaulay, Nicky Chinn, Mike Stock and Matt Aitken.

    Cover Art
    Nicki Minaj - Isoul Harris
    Call Number: ML420.M563 H377 2012
    From her outrageous outfits to her private life, this is the Mick Minaj manual: everything any fan would want and need to know. From humble beginnings in Trinidad to being snapped up by hip-hop king Lil Wayne in New York, Nicki has defied the odds and become a global superstar.

    Cover Art
    Patti Smith - Nick Johnstone
    Call Number: ML420.S657 J64 2012
    Nick Johnstone, respected music journalist and long time fan, unravels the story of the girl from Chicago who mixed poetry, underground theatre, jazz and rock, and who played a key role in shaping the New York punk scene of the mid-Seventies.

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    Patti Smith Complete, 1975-2006 - Patti Smith
    Call Number: ML54.6.S657 P38 2006
    Collects lyrics, notes, reflections, and photographs spanning Patti Smith's career, in a volume containing new artwork from her latest albums and previously unpublished photographs by Annie Liebovitz and Robert Mapplethorpe

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    The Poetics of American Song Lyrics - Charlotte Pence (Contribution by, Editor); Robert McParland (Contribution by); David Daniel (Contribution by); Stephen M. Deusner (Contribution by); Claudia Emerson (Contribution by); Beth Ann Fennelly (Contribution by); Keith Flynn (Contribution by); Jes
    Call Number: PN1059.S7 P64 2012
    The Poetics of American Song Lyrics is the first collection of academic essays that regards songs as literature and that identifies intersections between the literary histories of poems and songs.

    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
    Women Icons of Popular Music - Carrie Havranek (Editor)
    Call Number: ML82 .H38 2009
    Women Icons of Popular Music puts the limelight on 24 legendary artists who challenged the status quo and dramatically expanded the possibilities of women in the highly competitive music world. Using critical acclaim and artistic integrity as benchmarks of success, this can't-put-down resource features rich biographical and musical analyses of a diverse array of musicians from country, pop, rock, R&B, soul, indie, and hip-hop. It goes beyond the shorter, less detailed biographical information found in many women in rock compendiums by giving readers a more in-depth understanding of these artists as individuals, as well as providing a larger context-social, musical, political, and personal-for their success and legacy.

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    Women who rock : vision passion power - James Henke (editor)
    Call Number: ML141.C58 R65 2011
    Explores the role and impact of female musicians in the world of rock and pop music, from early 20th century roots artists to contemporary stars of the Aughts, through photos, clothing, and memorabilia.

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    The Words and Music of Patti Smith - Joe Tarr
    Call Number: ML420.S657 T37 2008
    An analysis of the work of Patti Smith and of her influence on rock 'n' roll and popular arts



    Cover Art
    Amazing Grace - Aretha Franklin
    Call Number: CD FRANK-A AMAZ 1990

    Cover Art
    Aretha now - Aretha Franklin
    Call Number: CD FRANK-A ARET-N 1993

    Cover Art
    Dream of life - Patti Smith
    Call Number: CD SMIT-P DREA 1996
    ISBN: 0078221882828

    Cover Art
    Easter - Patti Smith Group
    Call Number: CD SMIT-P EAST 1996

    Cover Art
    Horses - Patti Smith
    Call Number: CD SMIT-P HORS 2006

    Cover Art
    Pink Friday - Nicki Minaj
    Call Number: CD MINA PINK-R 2012

    Cover Art
    Wall of sound: the very best of Phil Spector, 1961-1966 - Phil Spector
    Call Number: CD SPEC-P WALL 2011
    Includes songs by The Crystals



    Cover Art
    25th anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concerts - HBO presents
    Call Number: 25794-X Time Life (set)
    Includes performances by Aretha Franklin and Patti Smith

    Cover Art
    The tomorrow show with Tom Snyder. Punk & new wave - NBC
    Call Number: DVD COLL TOMO-P 2006
    ISBN: 9780738933511
    Includes interview footage with Patti Smith

    Archival Resources

    New to Archives? Check out:

    Below is a list of links to archival materials on artists and topics associated with this course:

    • Hall of Fame series. Aretha Franklin.
      In this Rock Hall program, Aretha Franklin performs and discusses her early career on Columbia Records, her later career on Atlantic Records, gospel music, songwriting, and recording.
    • Immaculate Funk: The Jerry Wexler Story. Aretha Franklin
      In this uncut footage from the film Immaculate Funk, Aretha Franklin discusses her work at FAME Studios with Jerry Wexler.
    • Adele
      This catalog search provides links to a variety of archival materials in our collections on this artist.
    • Aretha Franklin
      This catalog search provides links to a variety of archival materials in our collections on this artist.
    • Carole King
      This catalog search provides links to a variety of archival materials in our collections on this artist.
    • Ellie Greenwich
      This catalog search provides links to a variety of archival materials in our collections on this artist.
    • Joni Mitchell
      This catalog search provides links to a variety of archival materials in our collections on this artist.
    • Laura Nyro
      This catalog search provides links to a variety of archival materials in our collections on this artist.
    • ARC-0290 Patti Smith Collection
      The Patti Smith Collection spans the years 1972 to 1993, with the bulk of the material dating between 1974 and 1978. The collection consists of items documenting Smith's career as an artist and musician, including clippings, correspondence, artwork, handwritten lyrics and poetry, photographs, and posters. The collection provides rich insight to the personal life and career of Patti Smith, as well as documentation of her music and art.

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Video

    Patti Smith performs at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, 2007

    Carole King performs Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, 1990

    Rock Hall Video: 25th Anniversary Show

    Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Show

    YouTube Videos

    Adele, "From the Artists Den"

    Carole King on songwriting

    The Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron

    Patti Smith, "Times Talks"

    PJ Harvey, Guide to Songwriting
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum | Library and Archives
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