Unit 9: Contemporary America, 1968-present

United/Divided | War & Peace | Work | Home | Moving Along | Faith & Ideals


“I am Woman”

Helen Reddy, 1972
The song that became the Feminist movement’s anthem

Lyric source | Recording

“Chocolate City”

Parliament, 1975
A funk song describing Washington D.C.

Lyric source | Recording

“Born in the U.S.A.”

Bruce Springsteen, 1985
A hit rock song describing the non-heroic return of a Vietnam veteran

Lyric source | Recording | Lesson ideas

“Gangsta’s Paradise”

Coolio, 1995
A rewrite of Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” about the gang environment

Lyric source | Recording


War and Peace


“In America”

Charlie Daniels, 1980
A song of unification during the Iran Hostage Crisis

Lyric source | Recording


Sting, 1985
A peace song from the last decade of the Cold War

Lyric source | Recording




“9 to 5”

Dolly Parton, 1980
The trials of women in underpaid clerical jobs

Lyric source | Recording


Billy Joel, 1982
Coming of age in a rusting steel town

Lyric source | Recording




“Big Yellow Taxi”

Joni Mitchell, 1970
An environmental song protesting the blacktopping of America

Lyric source | Recording

“Living for the City”

Stevie Wonder, 1973
A contemporary look at the issue of rural to urban migration with a racial theme

Lyric source | Recording

“Small Town”

John Cougar Mellencamp, 1985
Rock looks at the virtues of living in a small town, rather than a big city

Lyric source | Recording

“Mountains O’ Things”

Tracy Chapman, 1988
Comment on the fruitlessness of Yuppie conspicuous consumption

Lyric source | Recording

“Information Undertow”

Dada, 1998
A look at how our lives are being ruled by technological advances

Lyric source | Recording


Moving Along



C. W. McCall, B. Fries, C. Davis, 1976
Truckers protest against gas prices and speed limit changes caused by the oil embargo

Lyric source | Recording

“Traffic Jam”

James Taylor, 1973
Too many cars in this expression of frustration

Lyric source | Recording


Faith and Ideals



John Lennon, 1971
Written at the height of the Vietnam War, this song has remained a popular peace anthem

Lyric source | Recording

“God Bless the U.S.A.”

Lee Greenwood, 1983
Patriotic song from the Reagan and Bush, Sr. campaigns; revived in the 2001 terrorist attacks

Lyric source | Recording

“From a Distance”

Julie Gold, 1985
A song about a peaceful Earth as seen from space, that became popular during the Gulf War

Lyric source | Recording



More Units:

1. Worlds Meeting

2. New Nation

3. Expansion & Reform

4. Civil War & Reconstruction

5. Development of Industrial


6. Emergence of Modern U.S.

7. Great Depression & WW II

8. Post-War U.S.

9. Contemporary U.S.









Copyright 2007-2008 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System