Land of Confusion: Rock Music and Social Change in the 1980s

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12

The history of rock and roll reflects diverse American experiences, protesting political problems and encouraging new visions for progress in our nation and around the world. This class studies social change in the United States in the 1980s, building upon the legacy of the 1960s counterculture, as exemplified in the 1986 song “Land of Confusion” performed by Genesis. Songs and music videos by artists such as Sting, Bruce Springsteen, USA for Africa, and Public Enemy will allow students to explore how musicians have questioned society and effected change with rock, pop, and hip-hop. Discussion topics, including the Cold War, fighting famine in Eastern African, and facing rising homelessness, allow students to understand how complicated problems often impact society.

Suggested pairing – Ball of Confusion: Rock Music and Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s

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Selected Song List

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Class Resources

Rock and roll musicians continued to comment on current events into the 1980s

Registering for this Class

To sign up for this class, click on the REGISTER NOW button below and follow the instructions for program registration. An education department representative will contact you within 2-3 days of the program request submission. If a representative does not contact you within 5 business days, please call the Education Department at 216.515.1202.

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    I am hoping my students will take what they learned from the lyrics of the songs presented and try a new technique in their own song. Very knowledgeable staff. Excellent program! The videos were invaluable. I really stepped out of my confort zone. I will do this again.
    - Tammy Dalton, St. Francis Middle School
    The programs that you offer at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are outstanding! …You are highly professional, and treat the students as students and expect them to learn and to participate. You should be applauded for your efforts. I look forward to many more programs in the future.
    - A history teacher in Horseheads, NY
    I liked how it connected music, sociology, and history together. I think it demonstrated how history actually does affect everyday life.
    - A high school sociology teacher in Arlington, TX