Thoughtful Songs

We have a great discussion going on ELT Professionals LinkedIN where teachers recommend songs for teaching. Some of them got me thinking about how I most often used songs in my teaching.


Most often, I used songs to either introduce a topic but most often to introduce a “sensitive” topic or one about a personal, social or global issue. They are great at getting students thinking about things we usually don’t and for prompting discussion.

So here are off the top of my head, some songs I’ve used. Not meant to be an authoritative list but to get us teachers thinking. All have resources available for members of ELT Buzz Teaching Resources. See all our lyric listening resources/printables.

I’d love to hear your own additions to this list of “sensitive” songs.

  1. Imagine (just blogged about it!) – about world peace.
  2. 38 years old.  Tragically Hip.  – about relationships, life, crime
  3. Broken English.  Maryanne Faithful.  – talking about language use
  4. I heard it through the grapevine.  Marvin Gaye.  – discuss gossip/gossiping
  5. Do they know its Christmas?  – discuss poverty, inequality.

6. All The Answers. – Raul Midon.  – introduce technology

  1.  I don’t like Mondays.  Boomtown Rats.    – discuss likes/dislikes, suicide
  2.  Slave to the wage.  Placebo.  – talk about work, McJobs, careers, future
  3.  Father and Son.  Cat Stevens.   – parenthood, relationships
  4.  Beds are burning. Midnight Oil.   – earth, climate, environment
  5.  He’s a good dog.  Fred Eaglesmith.  – dogs, death, animals
  6.  My name is Luka.  Suzanne Vega.   – child abuse, children’s aid
  7.  The River.  Bruce Springsteen.   – life, career, time, change, regrets
  8.  Waiting on the world to change. John Mayer.   – change, protest, world problems
  9.  I only ask of God – Outlandish.   – world issues, war, politics

This topic wouldn’t be complete without Pete Seeger. Here’s a version I subtitled and use with teachers to get them thinking about the purpose and objective of school / education.

Also published on Medium.

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