It’s back to school y’all! Nothing is quite like the mixed bag of feelings that emerges, as the first day of school gets closer, or when that ungainly phase of re-acquaintance with pupils, teachers, and classrooms begins. In order to commemorate this grand time of stationary sales and last minute prayers for snow days until next summer, I’ve compiled a short list of songs that all have something to say about school.
Feel free to add onto this list in the comments section.
Beach Boys – Be true to your school
Incorporating University of Wisconson’s fight song, “On Wisconson,” Brian Wilson and Co. unashamedly takes on the all-American sound and image as they sing about school spirit. Filled with references to Lettermans sweaters, football games, girls with poms poms—this song belongs in an Archie’s comic.
The Replacements – Fuck School
Inevitably, the Beach Boy’s immaculate sound and utopian vision of school life would be met with a rebuttle. Enter: The Replacements. In true punk fashion, The Replacements shred through barely a minute and a half of pure energy about a sentiment I’m confident the majority of people who’ve gone through school feel—especially during finals week or when you’re number one the waitlist for a whole week for a class you need in order to graduate only to be informed by a cold and lifeless email from the registrar that the waitlist period is officially over and so is your chance of finishing school.
Kanye West — All Falls Down
Spending three albums on the theme of college—College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation—it’s safe to say that Kanye West has contemplated about school quite a bit. It is no surprise then, that West digs a little beyond the tug of war between the sentiments of “I like school” and “I don’t like school,” as he drives straight to the heart of the matter: why are we in school in the first place? Is it for an academic experience? Self-betterment? West seems to think otherwise as he raps: “Man I promise, she’s so self conscious/She has no idea what she’s doing in college/That major that she majored in don’t make no money/But she won’t drop out, her parents will look at her funny/Now, tell me that ain’t insecurrre/The concept of school seems so securrre.”
The White Stripes — We’re Going to Be Friends
In this gentle number, The White Stripes take a stroll down memory lane as Jack White plucks away a simple guitar line, while singing, in an earnest and naïve melody, lyrics about the best part of elementary school: meeting friends. Meg doesn’t seem to make a musical appearance in this song, but if the music video indicates anything, she was probably the muse for this lovely tune.
James Brown and the Famous Flames — Don’t’ Be a Dropout
In this old school track, the king of soul and funk drops a major PSA bomb on his fans. Brown gives it straight to his listeners: “Without an education/You might as well be dead.” Heavy words. But in today’s tech-savvy culture led by individuals like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and that Facebook guy, it’s more like without learning how to use a computer; you might as well be dead.