Compare/Contrast Essay

As we’ve been doing all along, take your pick or picks from out of the following assemblage of popular melodies from the ‘ forties for this ASSIGNMENT V. There’s a bit more variety here, but all were, and some remain, extremely popular songs. You can compose an essay on only one, or compare/contrast one, or two, or all four even, with another. In terms of an entirely different approach, you might even want to do some online research to tie the song(s) you select into social history, or examine the context in which the song was composed and what subsequent events cemented it into the popular imagination long after that. Or you might have been inspired by the song or songs enough to be interested in learning more about the composer or lyricist. For example, we already learned that, though it started out as a so-called sentimental romantic ballad composed in the 1920s by someone who was heartbroken, “Are You Lonesome Tonight” was one of rock’n’roller Elvis Preseley’s biggest hits in the mid-fifties. Or that “As Time Goes By,” popular in the early ‘forties, became an anthem for the anti-war movement in the ‘sixties. The point is, behind every great song, one that has enough “stick-to-it-iveness” to it to remain somewhere in the popular memory long, long after the song’s old “Chart Topper” day has passed, is some trigger in its expression of love and longing, hope and endurance. All those various manifestations of loneliness and losing we are all too much familiar with remain evocative of personal feelings especially in these days (but when has that not been the case, and why not?). Let yourself be provoked by music, and you’ll find in yourself, no matter what your personal tastes, something deep and enduring in us as living, thinking, feeling, believing creatures. Feel free, indeed urged, to tap into it, and see what comes. BUT, please do make sure to keep the finished essay entirely in the third person — “he, she, it, they,” etc. — and avoid and all use of “I,” “we,” and “you,” etc. Believe me, it gives a piece of writing more authority than you could ever imagine when it comes to how that enduring creature, the general reader, responds. Go for it!

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