“Good Morning School Girl” by Sonny Boy Williamson (1937)
“I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats (1979)
“Another Brick in the Wall” Pink Floyd (1979)
School has such a huge impact on our lives that it is no wonder there are many, many songs about school and teachers. The songs vary, from hatred of school to love of school. It is a very formative emotional time so again, no surprise on the spectrum of emotions expressed over the years.
We seem to think that school should be a certain way – proper, orderly, rule-based. When it isn’t we seem to think that is bad or somehow a breaking of a taboo. Are we corrupted by that? Are they brain-washing us to think a certain way to fit into society? Does it really work? Do we have minds of our own?
The protests such as ‘The Wall’ were more about the rigid form of school and in particular boarding schools. It speaks to the ‘drugs to keep us calm’, which became epidemic at the time.
Teachers clearly are a very important theme in school songs as well. Mostly there is something provocative about a relationship between a younger student and an older teacher. This is hinted at in songs but never explicitly stated as it is still very much a taboo to this day. The teacher is clearly in a position of control and we are rightly fully outraged when there is a violation against one of our children. Yet we continue to sing about it. Strange.
Schools have been marred by tragedy with events like Columbine in Colorado and Ecole Polytechnic in Montreal. We are now trying to profile potential student attackers to avoid such incidents. There is a very long and prolific history of gun violence at schools. Often the shooter is driven by jealousy, perceived wrong-doing or someone not having control. Control is the central issue in school after all isn’t it? Bob Geldoffs “I Don’t Like Monday’s” was written after he heard news of 16 year-old Brenda Spencer opening fire at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School in 1979. Spencer killed 2 adults and injured 8 children and a police officer. Remorseless, Spencer simply stated the reason for the attack as, “I Don’t Like Mondays”.
I think it is universally accepted that school at some point is difficult for everyone. Unless you are Barbie and Ken you are going to be ridiculed by other students. Bullying has recently come to the forefront in the schools of the world as something controllable or preventable, or at least something we can teach kids not to do. Even a Barbie has hang-ups and moments of doubt – kids are cruel. This too is part of the learning experience. You have to get out there and let the world wash over you a bit. It can be damaging but it can be strengthening. We do to a certain extent get the innocence drummed out of us. We do not come into this world cynical and cautious with people. We learn that part. The acceptance of everyone and everything and the ability to instantly forgive and move on is lost forever.
Here are a whole bunch of school songs I am aware of, but I am sure there are many more. It is after all a universal experience world-wide.
Another Brick in the Wall Pt.2 – Pink Floyd
Adult Education – Hall and Oats
Back to School – Bo Diddley
Be True to Your School – Beachboys
Beauty School Drop-out – Frankie Avalon
Catholic Schoolgirls Rule – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Christine Sixteen – Kiss.
Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls
Coat of Many Colors – Dolly Parton
D is for Love – Cliff Richard
Don’t Stand So Close to Me – The Police
Education – The Kinks, Pearl Jam
Fifteen – Taylor Swift
Good Morning School Girl –Sonny Boy Williamson, also Yardbirds and many others “Good Morning Little School Girl” (give the Jonny Lang version a listen)
Harper Valley PTA – Jeanne C. Reily
Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
Hot for Teacher – Van Halen
I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats
Jeremy – Pearl Jam
Mark me Absent – The Clash
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon
My Old School – Steely Dan
No Such Thing – John Mayer
Rock and Roll High School – The Ramones
School - Nirvana
School - Supertramp
School Day (Ring, Ring Goes the Bell) – Chuck Berry
School’s Out – Alice Cooper
Smokin’ in the Boys Room – Brownsville Station (Motley Crue)
Teacher, Teacher – 38 Special
Teacher I Need You – Elton John
Teacher’s Pet – Doris Day
This is me in Grade Nine – Barenaked Ladies
To Sir With Love – Lulu
The Art Teacher – Rufus Wainwright
When I kissed the Teacher – Abba
Wonderful World – Sam Cooke