Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What book is being discussed on the television show sketch used in the Prologue?

2. What is American culture built on according to Marcus?

3. Why does Marcus believe it is important to study the stories of some performers even if the book does not encompass everything?

4. What author does Marcus quote in the beginning of "Robert Johnson -1938" to illustrate the promise of American life?

5. In "Harmonica Frank -1951," what song does Marcus say "set the stage for rock 'n' roll"?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the relationship between the rock 'n' roll artist and audience according to Greil Marcus in the prologue?

2. Compare and contrast Harmonica Frank and Robert Johnson in terms of style. Use details from both "Harmonica Frank - 1951" and "Robert Johnson -1938." How are the two styles similar? What about the lyrics are different?

3. Why might "The Band" be subtitled "Pilgrim's Progress"?

4. Who are Harmonica Frank and Robert Johnson? Why are they included in the book?

5. Who is Marcus' audience for Mystery Train and how do you know?

6. Compare and contrast Ahab and Huck using Marcus' descriptions from "Harmonica Frank - 1951." How are they different? How are they similar?

7. In the section entitled "The Weight" in "The Band," what does Dominique Robertson have to say about living in Woodstock? What does this say about community?

8. Describe the example of an artist that Greil Marcus uses in the prologue. Who is an artist and why? Why are the other people in the example not artists?

9. In "Harmonica Frank - 1951," what exactly is the American spirit that Marcus believes Harmonica Frank brought to rock n' roll?

10. According to Marcus in "The Band," how are Harmonica Frank and Robert Johnson relevant to The Band?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The archetypal theme, desire for freedom, is more than apparent in Harmonica Frank's style and life. Write an essay analyzing how this is an archetypal theme and how Harmonica Frank represents it in his music and life.

Essay Topic 2

Rock 'n' roll always has its ties to race and it both enriches the music and hinders it. Pick one artist who dealt with race issues in his music (any of the artists discussed in Mystery Train do). In an essay identify what the racial tensions of the time were and how they factored into the music.

Essay Topic 3

Elvis is a man but he is also a symbol. In an essay discuss at least three concepts that Elvis came to symbolize. How does he symbolize these concepts? What did he do to reinforce these conceptions?

(see the answer keys)

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