Music is a big part of Up She Rises, especially as Rachel learns to play the fiddle and discovers the traditional music of Newfoundland. But Rachel’s students are much more interested in the burgeoning world of music videos, courtesy of Much Music. For them it’s all about the pop and rock songs of the mid 1980’s. During Rachel’s first evaluation with vice principal, Judy, she struggles with class participation on the topic of similes and metaphors. Luckily, Eddie Van Halen jumps to the rescue:
They were not participating. It was down to me. But what other example could I give? ‘Stunned as me arse,’ as I’d heard someone describe Calvin? That didn’t seem like the best example to impress Judy. Sweat was trickling down my back. When I walked over to open a window, Harry Wadden exhaled loudly. Annoyed, I picked on him.
“Harry, can you think of a metaphor or a simile?”
“No, Miss.” He avoided my gaze; his thumb working the edge of a sticker plastered on his binder – Eddie Van Halen, all goofy grin and big hair.
You’ve got to ro – o – oll with the punches, to get to what’s real…
With that, Professor Brennan saved me ; a snippet from one of his lectures popped into my head: ‘Grab their attention – bring the subject to life by making it relevant for them. ’
Might as well jump…
I went to the blackboard and picked up a piece of chalk, its slender form like a life line, grounding me. “Let’s try something different,” I said. “I want each of you to give me the name of a singer or a group you like.”
A few minutes later the blackboard looked like a record store poster: Wham, Duran Duran, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson and yes, Van Halen.
“Now,” I said, “think about the lyrics in their songs. Any metaphors or similes?”
The examples began to flow and I wrote them on the blackboard.
“You Must be my Lucky Star” – metaphor.
“You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Like A Record” – simile.
Then Billy raised his hand. “Madonna, Miss. Like A Virgin.”
Judy’s head whipped up from her notebook. I fought hard to maintain a neutral look. “Simile,” I said crisply, ignoring the snickers.
What’s your favourite song from the 1980s?