Teaching concepts and literature with songs

This list was compiled using my personal playlists for classes and lots and lots of suggestions from the AP Listserve.

The links go to iTunes.

Literary Terms


The Trooper” – Iron Maiden

“When the Tigers Broke Free” – Pink Floyd

“Another Brick in the Wall” – Pink Floyd

The House that Built Me” – Miranda Lambert


Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton


White Horse” – Taylor Swift

The House that Built Me” – Miranda Lambert

The Trees” – Rush


The Sound of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel

Knee Deep” – Zac Brown


Small Print” – Muse

Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles

Hero Archetype

Hero” – Mariah Carey

We Don’t Need Another Hero” – Tina Turner

White Horse” – Taylor Swift (failed quest)

Patterns” – Simon & Garfunkel

Mythology & Religion

The Melting Point of Wax” – Thrice  (Icarus)

The Bible

Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds (Ecclesiastes)

40” – U2 (Psalms 40)



The Book of My Life” – Sting

War Literature

Machine Gun” – Hendrix

One” – Metallica


2+2=5” – Radiohead

“Sex Crimes” – The Eurythmics

1984” – David Bowie

A Brave New World
Brave New World” – Iron Maiden

The Catcher in the Rye

Who Wrote Holden Caulfield” – Green Day

Death of a Salesman  

Glory Days” – Bruce Springsteen

Dr. Faustus

Wrapped Around Your Finger” – The Police

For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls” – Metallica

Go Ask Alice

White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane

Grapes of Wrath

The Ghost of Tom Joad” – Bruce Springsteen or Rage Against the Machine

Henderson the Rain King

Rain King” – Counting Crows

The Hobbit

Misty Mountain Hop” and “Ramble On” – Led Zeppelin


Don’t Stand so Close to Me” – The Police

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Battle of Evermore” – Led Zeppelin

My Antonia

My Antonia” – Emmylou Harris

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Goodbye Sky Harbor” – Jimmy Eat World

“Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Rime of the Ancient Mariner” – Iron Maiden

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet” – Dire Straits

Romeo and Juliet” – Indigo Girls

The Stranger

“Shooting an Arab” – The Cure

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

All I Know” – Art Garfunkel

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights” – Kate Bush

Wuthering Heights” – Pat Benatar

Poetry & Short Stories


Ode To Billy Joe” – Ike and Tina Turner

also recorded by Sinead O’Connor, Nancy Wilson, Patty Smyth, Ashley Gearing, and many, many more

Ballad of Billy the Kid” – Billy Joel
“The Ballad of Barbara Allan”
Barbara Allen” – Art Garfunkel – also recorded by Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, among others

A Rose for Emily

To the End” – My Chemical Romance

“One Art” – poem by Elizabeth Bishop
“The Art of Losing (One Art)” – David Broza

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” poem by T.S. Eliot
Dover Beach” – The Bangles

Afternoons & Coffeespoons” by the Crash Test Dummies

“Richard Cory” poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Richard Cory” by Paul Simon

And here is a Wikipedia list, alphabetical by song title, aligning music with literature.


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