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Rock & The Ivory Tower

September 13, 1987

Hilburn rightly asks educators to open up to the possibilities of rock music.

Every year my seniors and I find ourselves dead in the water over Hamlet. Why can't he get his act together and do something, for God's sake? He's had it with phony Ophelia, his mother is over-sexed and he feels, like Bruce Springsteen, that he's "Dancin' in the Dark," that he too can't "get a love reaction" from anyone in his trumped-up world.

So we listen to Bruce for a while and then we understand Hamlet better and we feel closer to the great, paralyzing human sorrows which touch Hamlet and Bruce and my seniors and me. We're all in this thing together.

If we ask students to accept the passions running through classic literature and art, why can't we listen to their fresh, always 17-year-old passions coming through rock music?

Plaintive cries in U2 echo Polonius, Pat Benatar echoes insistent Cathy in "Wuthering Heights," Iron Maiden produced a version of Rime of the Ancient Mariner--students prefer Coleridge, by the way, and they know why--and this year I intend to ask my freshmen if Juliet would like wonderful Whitney Houston's "Didn't We Almost Have It All."

The connections abound, and teen-agers may not always articulate, but they are very intelligent, open to exciting connections between words and music and art. Nothing in the world could be better than being with them when they realize that art is in them and in all parts of the world.


English Department

Agoura High School

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