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On the Road: 7-12 Land of Confusion: Rock Music & Social Change in the 1980s



Land of Confusion: Rock Music & Social Change in the 1980s

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, Land of Confusion: Rock Music & Social Change in the 1980s. For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see:

The history of rock and roll reflects diverse American experiences, protesting political problems and encouraging new visions for progress in our nation and around the world. This class studies social change in the United States in the 1980s, building upon the legacy of the 1960s counterculture, as exemplified in the 1986 song “Land of Confusion” performed by Genesis. Songs and music videos by artists such as Sting, Bruce Springsteen, USA for Africa, and Public Enemy will allow students to explore how musicians have questioned society and effected change with rock, pop, and hip-hop. Discussion topics, including the Cold War, fighting famine in Eastern African, and facing rising homelessness, allow students to understand how complicated problems often impact society.

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For Your Students


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

  • Give examples of ways musicians have used popular music to pose questions about society and suggest avenues for change.
  • Analyze the lyrics of songs that respond to social debates within the context of the Cold War, international responses to Ethiopian famine, and concerns about social class and race relations.
  • Explain how music and musicians both influence and are influenced by society and culture.




Online Resources

Archival Resources

New to Archives? Check out:

YouTube Videos

Public Enemy, "Fight The Power"

Genesis, "Land of Confusion"

Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the USA"

Sting and Bruce Springsteen, "Every Breath You Take," live at Amnesty International, 1988

USA for Africa, "We Are the World" original music video, 1985

Free South Africa Hip-Hop Against Apartheid, "Ndodemnyama"
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