Billie Holiday | Strange Fruit

Level: intermediate (B1/B2)

As a possible stem from the lesson plan on Modern Slavery, I thought an analysis of this song could help, in order to understand how “traditional” slavery worked and the effects it had. Now, this is only one of the many possible songs and spirituals that can be found on the subject, but I feel it is on point in giving an idea of the atrocities that came, and still come, with slavery. The lyrics are taken from Genius.com, and if you click on any verse, it will give you an explanation of it. I hope it can help you understand the topic better, and perhaps support the cause of making sure things like these never happen again.

Here is the song in Nina Simone’s version, which really hit me the first time I ever heard it: her voice really pierces through and makes you feel anguish and pain, only remotely comparable to what slaves felt, and feel today.

Bruno Mars | The lazy song

Level: pre-intermediate (B1)

If you know me, then you know I’m quite lazy. Therefore, I had to think of an activity with this song, which I can consider my anthem.

Task 1: fill in the gaps. Here are some synonyms of the missing words:

shout – trousers – beep – father – promise – sofa

Task 2: some expressions are highlighted in bold in the text. Find out what they mean.

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone
So leave a message at the ________
‘Cause today I ______ I’m not doing anything

Uh I’m gonna kick my feet up and stare at the fan
Turn the TV on
Throw my hand in my ___________
Nobody’s gon’ tell me I can’t, no

I’ll be loungin’ on the ________ just chillin’ in my snuggie
Flip to MTV so they can teach me how to Dougie
‘Cause in my castle I’m the freakin’ man
Oh

Yes I said it
I said it
I said it ’cause I can

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone
So leave a message at the ________
‘Cause today I swear I’m not doing anything

Nothing at all
Ooh hoo ooh hoo
Hoo ooh ooh
Nothing at all
Ooh hoo ooh hoo
Hoo ooh ooh

Tomorrow I’ll wake up do some p90x
Meet a really nice girl have some really nice sex
And she’s gonna ________ out this is great

I might mess around and get my college degree
I bet my ___________ will be so proud of me
But sorry pops you’ll just have to wait
Oh

Yes I said it
I said it
I said it ’cause I can

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone
So leave a message at the tone
‘Cause today I swear I’m not doing anything

No I ain’t gonna comb my hair
‘Cause I ain’t goin’ anywhere
No no no no no no no no no oh
I’ll just strut in my birthday suit
And let everything hang loose
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Oh, today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone
So leave a message at the tone
‘Cause today I swear I’m not doing anything

Nothing at all
Ooh hoo ooh hoo
Hoo ooh ooh
Nothing at all
Ooh hoo ooh hoo
Hoo ooh ooh
Nothing at all

Followup writing

What is it you don’t feel like doing when you’re in your lazy mood? What would you rather do?

Anderson .Paak | The City

Level: lower-intermediate (B1)

This time round, instead of the usual listening exercise, I’d like you to comment on these lyrics, and let me know what you think Anderson .Paak means with his words, similarly to what you can see by clicking on the grey areas.

Shawn Mendes | Stitches

Level: pre-intermediate (A2)

Try to complete the lyrics with the missing word or phrase:

I thought that I’ve been hurt before
But no one’s ever left me quite this sore
Your words cut ________ than a ________
Now I need someone to breathe me back to _________

Got a feeling that I’m going _________
But I know that I’ll ___________ alive
If I quit calling you my lover
___________

You _________ me bleed until I can’t breathe
I’m shaking falling onto my knees
And now that I’m without __________
I’ll be needing _________
I’m tripping over myself
I’m aching begging you to come help
And now that I’m without your kisses
I’ll be needing stitches

Just like a moth drawn to a flame
Oh you lured me in I couldn’t sense the pain
Your bitter heart cold to the touch
Now I’m gonna reap what I sew
I’m left seeing red on my own

Got a feeling that I’m going under
But I know that I’ll make it out alive
If I quit calling you my lover
____________

You watch me bleed until I can’t breathe
I’m shaking falling onto my knees
And now that I’m without _________
I’ll be needing __________
I’m tripping over myself
I’m aching begging you to __________
And now that I’m without _________
I’ll be needing stitches

Needle and the thread
Gotta get you out of ________
Needle and the thread
Gonna _________ dead

Needle and the thread
Gotta get you out of ________
Needle and the thread
Gonna ________ dead

Needle and the thread
Gotta get you out ________
Needle and the thread
Gonna _________ dead

Needle and the thread
Gotta get you out of my head get you out of my head

You watch me bleed until I can’t breathe
I’m shaking falling onto my knees (falling on my knees)
And now that I’m ___________
I’ll be needing _________ (and I’ll be needing _________)
I’m tripping over myself
I’m aching begging you to come help (begging baby please)
And now that I’m ___________
I’ll be needing _________

And now that I’m ___________
I’ll be needing ________
And now that I’m ___________
I’ll be needing ________

 

Atmosphere | Little Man

Try completing the lyrics with the missing word or phrase

[Verse 1]
Dear Jacob
I won’t take up too much of your time
I know you’re trying to get your video-game grind on
And that’s fine
Just gimme a second to empty my face
Before I hit the road again to go and win this paper chase
I’ve been watching you and-
I’m proud of you man
You’re (1) __________ to be the best man that you possibly can
I know you understand
Why I go out of town
I also know my days are colder when you’re not (2)_________
Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be adapted to the fact
That daddy never lived inside the same shack
And sometimes I get this pain in my stomach’s pit
It’s what I get
I’m convinced it’s (3)_____________
For those nights I got drunk and let go; at some bar
In some city with some people I (4)__________
For all the times that the lines on your face
Reminded me of the days before the dragonflies escaped
It trips me out how you pick up all my traits
From the way that you spit to the fists that you make
I watch the way you try to keep your mom happy
Daddy learned that from you
You’re supposed to (5)________________
I can’t teach much when it comes to women
I drive safe and slow but don’t know nothing ’bout the engine
You’re doing good little man that’s all I really meant
(6) _____________
You’re my best friend, thanks for listening

[Verse 2]
Dear Craig,
What up bones? How it goes?
Yeah, me? Well, you know, you know, same old, (7) _________
Sorry that the phone calls ain’t too routine
Just been runnin’ around the globe tryin’ to do my thing
Sometimes the weeks fly a little too fast
And sometimes I go to sleep a little too trashed
Other times I’m not sittin’ on (8) ___________
And other times (9) ________ feels too much like (10) ___________
Sometimes at night I would watch y’all fight
A child wonderin’
Why your life just ain’t alright?
What’s the violence about? Why’s it in my house?
And even the memories are turned up (11) ___________
Yeah, I got some issues in my head
Knew we should’ve started fixing ’em back when she left you
I’m not trying to get you down, I know you’re different now
But your (12) __________ justs wants you to listen now
I’m over thirty, can’t maintain relations
All these women wanna hurt me and I just don’t have the (13) __________
I can’t trust ’em
And they’re not much help
When they start to (14) __________the buttons I don’t trust myself
What pride, fists, and words just might do?
I’m afraid of my fate, don’t wanna turn out like you
I’ve never hit a woman
I won’t do coke
And for that alone I love you and I wanna thank you old man

[Verse 3]
Dear Sean
What’s goin’ on?
Not much to say
Just checkin’ in wit’cha trying to see (15) ___________ today
I know there’s gotta be something kickin’ your bruises
How’s the (16) _______? How’s the (17) _______? How’s the self-abusiveness?
Got a lot to lose, it’s breakin’ your shoulders
So you let your paranoia place your bets for you
Too many cigarettes, messin’ up your voice
Too many arguments, tryin’ to test your (18) ________
The only women that love you are fans and family
Mom has no choice, but fans leave you randomly
No heavy rotation
In any location
You’re not ready to face that you have no (19) ________ vocation
Plus you’re gettin’ old, your raps are exhausted
Stop it, everybody knows that you’ve lost it
Singin’ for these kids you don’t know
When you should be at home with (20) ________; instead you’re on your telephone
Fightin’ with your girl like it’s you against the world
Another drunk hotel bedroom corner, curled up like a naked fetus
Come and save him Jesus
Place him back in time before the Reaganomics and Adidas
Sometimes you’re not impressed with the work you’ve done
And love isn’t love if you didn’t hurt someone
Your son says, “Hi dad.”
Your dad says, “Whats up?”
And me, I wanna thank you, but I won’t, I’ll just say, “Good luck.”

Follow-up activity (writing):

Imagine yourself in 20 years: what would you write to your future son/daughter? What would you tell your mother/father about how you are living? and finally, what would you tell yourself?

Write a letter to these three people telling them how you feel, your hopes and dreams and your regrets.

Intuition & Equalibrum | Imagining

Level: upper-intermediate (B2)

Try completing the lyrics with the missing words or phrases.

[Intro/Hook]
Don’t stop imagining
The day that you do is the day that you die
X2

[Verse]
I heard you had a hard time rememberin’
The longest road trip that we ever did
And the medicine ain’t gonna ____________ or make it better
When we talk I’ll probably hear the last sentence that you said again
And again and again till I well up
I’m tryin’ to be the man, keep my head and chin held up, but
But me and Steven going through it
We don’t even speak about it
And we know that’s your influence
I feel guilty I’m pursuing different paths so far away
We never used to talk, but now hello is ______ to say
When you got back from absence I felt things start to change
I let it breed (to multiply/cultivate) as memories slowly start to ____
Man, this shit is hard for me to deal with
I haven’t wrapped my head around (comprehend/realize) it, not sure if I feel shit
But this empty heart is not me, we can’t stop the loss of __________
But there is one thing that you taught me and that’s…

[Hook]
Don’t stop imagining
The day that you do is the day that you die
X4

[Verse]
And I was home when them tests came
We sat around the ______ _______
While we felt our chest cave
I died a bit inside, when Ry won that chess game…
That chess game, man I’m just sayin’ …I’m not angry
Nah wait, I’m angry as fuck
But I’m not angry at you, no man, I’m angry at ______
I’m angry that me and family and you had to be stuck
Watching the man you were get blown away (remove, cancelled) like granules of ______
But you raised a couple fighters
With fire in our eyes
We will be by your side till the (day that you die)
You taught me to ________ everything
You know I never lie
So was that day in June ’09 really the (day that you died)
If your presence makes no sense when you close your eyes and reopen ’em
A clean slate (tabula rasa) every time your focus is _______ then
Maybe you’re a shell of your former self (the shell of the man that now is empty inside)

And I’m hoping that your soul has flown home
And you feel no pain’s how I cope with it, dad
I’m glad you treat my mom better now
That’s the least you could do
After all the years you ____ _____ _____
Take no offense I’m only talkin’
We can’t stop the loss of thoughts
But there is one thing you taught me and it’s…

[Hook]
Don’t stop imagining
The day that you do is the day that you die
X4

[Verse]
We share a love of rock ‘n’ roll
Baseball and Bob Clemente
Get to know him all you can
That’s what all my friends say
But they don’t understand the end game
How can we heal? (completely recover)
There’s too many things you won’t be ___________
Your line of thought’s too hard to grasp
I’m glad that you’ve taken to (start doing something) arts and ________
If only we’d have started farther back
There’s so much I wish I could say
I beg your pardon dad, man

Footnotes:

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) accounts for 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. It is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss). As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioural issues. As a person’s condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years. (Source: Wikipedia – Read full article here)

Ankubu | Phantom frame

As some of you may know, music has always been a key element in my life. Well, I thought it was time to kill the selfishness and start sharing what I feel are the best tunes out there, so feel free to stop by every once in a while to see what’s new.

I’ll start with a dear friend of mine, who makes incredible electronic music, the type that can carry you up and away if you listen to it right.

You can catch him live in the Pordenone area at times, so if you like what you hear, follow him and his collective on Facebook.

Ghost City Collective

ANKUBU