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Paul Simon: American Tune

Paul Simon is an American songwriter who has gained wide recognition for his ability to compose songs that somehow convey personal experience while often simultaneously focussing on political and social themes.

Paul Simon is probably best known for being one part of the successful duo Simon & Garfunkel who are behind songs like “Bridge over Troubled Water”, “Mrs. Robinson” and “The Sound of Silence”. Watch a video of him performing his song "American Tune" on a live TV-show in 1975 and work on the tasks below. Right-click to open:

American Tune - Paul Simon - TV Show

Understanding the Song

  1. How do you interpret the title “American Tune”?
  2. What kind of experience is described in the first four lines of this song?
  3. What sort of dreams do you think the lyrical “I” refers to when he says “I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered/or driven to its knees”?
  4. In the third verse, the Statue of Liberty is mentioned. What type of symbol is the Statue of Liberty, what kind of values does it represent?
  5. The famous ship, the Mayflower, is mentioned in the 4th verse. Do you know which group of immigrants it transported to the US and when?
  6. What does the lyrical “I” dream about at the end of the song?
  7. What kind of challenges can an immigrant face when settling in a new country?
  8. What kind of emotions does this song express all in all?

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Cultural Aspects

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