Monday, September 03, 2012

Revisited: Back to school songs

Since has removed all of the blogs I wrote for it three times a week from August 2009 to August 2011, I've decided to repost some that I feel may still have some relevance on Steve Says. 
I'll be adding these Revisited columns on a semi-regular basis, so please drop by if you're interested.
Here we go:
From Sept. 10, 2009
Back to school songs
Joel Plaskett

To mark the end of summer break this week, I was going to write about school songs to give students some homework that's more interesting than algebra. Then I was about to scrap the idea after seeing that just posted a reader's list (unfortunately the link no longer works) of their 15 favourite school songs. But I realized there was lots of good stuff that didn't make the grade, including some prime Canadian cuts, so here's a look at some other school songs worth studying:

Barenaked Ladies — "Grade 9"
The Scarborough, Ont. band shot to Canadian fame with 1992's million-selling Gordon on the strength of its melodic and humorous songs, including this one about the pitfalls encountered by those entering their first year of high school.
Favourite line: "I went out for the football team to prove that I'm a man, I guess I shouldn't tell them that I like Duran Duran"

Beastie Boys — "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)"

This 1986 hit made the Beastie Boys stars and was named one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll by the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. But the group wasn't crazy about it and apparently haven't performed the song in 22 years.
Favourite line: "You missed two classes and no homework, But your teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk"

Chuck Berry — "School Days"

One of this rock and roll pioneer's biggest hits was released in 1957 and follows the teenage good time theme of "Sweet Little Sixteen."
Favourite line: "Ring ring goes the bell, The cook in the lunch room's ready to sell, You're lucky if you can find a seat, You're fortunate if you have time to eat"

The Clash — "Stay Free"
The most moving song from 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope sophomore album helped show that The Clash was more versatile than the other British punk bands of the era.
Favourite line: "The teacher says we're dumb, We're only having fun, We piss on everyone, In the classroom"

The Coasters — "Charlie Brown"

This Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller-written song hit #2 on the U.S. singles chart in 1959. It isn't about the Peanuts comic strip character, but a craps-rolling, graffiti-writing, spit ball-throwing class clown.
Favourite line: "Who walks in the classroom cool and slow? Who calls the English teacher 'Daddy-O?'"

Joel Plaskett Emergency — "Come On Teacher"

One of the many highlights from Plaskett's excellent 2003 album, Truthfully Truthfully, "Come On Teacher" is about a less than enthusiastic student who still wants to attend class because he has the hots for his teacher.
Favourite line: "If I just don't understand it, I should just be reprimanded"

John Lennon — "Working Class Hero"
This sparse song from Lennon's first post-Beatles solo album, 1970's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, cuts deep with its criticism of Britain's class system.
Favourite line: "They hurt you at home and they hit you at school, They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool"

Lulu — "To Sir, With Love"
The beautiful theme song from the 1967 British film topped the U.S. chart for five weeks and was the #1 song of the year. The movie starred Sidney Poitier as an idealistic teacher and tackled social and racial issues in an inner-city London school. This poignant number plays a key role towards the end.
Favourite line: "How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume? It isn't easy, but I'll try"

Madness — "Baggy Trousers"
This single from the British ska-pop group's sophomore album, Absolutely, reached #3 on the U.K. chart and takes a look back at band member Suggs' school days.
Favourite line: "Naughty boys in nasty schools, Headmasters breaking all the rules, Having fun and playing fools, Smashing up the woodwork tools"

The Police — "Don't Stand So Close To Me"
Sting looked back to his days as a teacher named Gordon Sumner for this 1980 hit about inappropriate feelings and actions between teachers and students. It topped the chart in the U.K., hit #10 in the U.S. and re-introduced Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita to popular culture.
Favourite line: "Her friends are so jealous, You know how bad girls get, Sometimes it's not so easy to be the teacher's pet"

Rockpile — "Teacher Teacher"
Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams released just one album under the Rockpile name, but 1980's Seconds Of Pleasure blends power pop and vintage rock and roll sounds better than pretty much any record ever made. "Teacher Teacher" was its single and a minor U.K. hit.
Favourite line: "Teacher, teacher, teach me love, I can't learn it fast enough, Teacher, teacher, teach me more, I've got to learn to love for sure"

Rough Trade — "High School Confidential"
The Toronto band's 1980 breakthrough hit and best known song refers to hanky-panky between the principal and a student and name-checks sex symbols of the past (Anita Ekberg, Mamie Van Doren, Dagmar). Many radio stations bleeped out a type of dairy product in the line "She makes me cream my jeans when she comes my way" when the single was first released.
Favourite line: "When she flashes me a look, I wanna burn my book, Give up high school"

Bobby Rydell — "Swingin' School"
I always enjoy introducing this 1960 #5 U.S. hit from the man who also scored big with "Wild One" and "Volare" to people. Squares wanting to be hip were immediately drawn to the "Chicks, kicks, cats, cool ... ah, school" introduction.
Favourite line: "My little chick is my heart's desire, Well the way we kiss
it puts the school on fire"

The Yardbirds — "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl"

This song about a schoolyard crush was written by blues artist Sonny Boy Williamson in 1937, but the Yardbirds' 1964 cover remains my favourite version.
Favourite line: "Won't you let me take you to the hop, Have a party at the soda shop"

—Steve McLean