You don’t have to be a nerd to embrace the excitement of a new school year! Push that homework aside for a few moments, grab your headphones, and let DJ Megz pump you up with 10 of the best back-to-school tunes.
It’s that special time of year again when the rush of breaking open your brand spankin’ new school supplies is surmounted only by the endless opportunities of a fresh start! I have to admit, I love everything about going back-to-school after a summer break. As a student and “super senior” at the University of Texas at Austin, I’m so far enjoying my very last semester in college by indulging in all those clichéd notions of what it is to be a student: cheering on the Longhorns football team, waking up early to spend some time perusing the libraries, using my student ID to get my few dollar discounts on haircuts and movie tickets. As fellow lomographers, you could imagine my excitement to hear about the awesome student and educator discounts of 10% off at the Lomography Gallery Store Austin and ongoing online education discounts! I knew immediately this good news deserved celebrating, so I decided to tear myself away from the books long enough to come up with this list of 10 great songs about school to share with you!
In addition to being an awesome movie about misfits and rebels turning a high school upside down, this classic track by the Ramones never fails to get me on my feet. As Joey Ramone reminds us, sometimes high school isn’t about the academics: some guys just wanna get their kicks and meet chicks. While I was an A+ student throughout school, I definitely had my moments where I just wanted to cut class and make out. After all, isn’t that what being a high school punk is all about?
Here James Brown delivers a sincere message to students everywhere: get your degree! I’ve many a time let these lyrics run through my mind as I struggled to finish a final project or found myself frustrated with the amount of time it has taken me to graduate from college. As hard as school can be sometimes, it’s a universal truth that an degree can help you get a better paying job…and with the economy the way it is, if you’re already invested in an education, you might as well finish it!
I unabashedly and un-ironically love Hall and Oates. There’s just something about the way this song describes the adolescent desire for intimacy that hits the nail on the head. Although I considered myself a pretty level-headed girl in my school days, I was not immune to the strong spell cast by falling in love for the first time. Of course, we all heard this from our parents as we struggled with our trifles in those days, but Hall and Oates reiterates this piece of advice for passionate adolescents everywhere, “Believe it or not there’s life after high school.”
When I was in high school, I wanted to be Ian Svenonius when I grew up. Every band he’s ever been in has profoundly influenced the way I play and listen to music. I really identified with his lyrics, being so politically charged, at a younger age (before I became a jaded adult, I suppose) and this song really brought out the rebellious side in me. I tried never to let myself fall into any one social category or clique in high school, and I’d like to think the words of Ian Svenonius inspired me to not fall victim to clique society.
Scoff if you must, but Blink 182 effortlessly embody teen angst and coming-of-age. The upbeat pop melodies perfectly contrast the feeling brought on by losing ones innocence and discovering that there really is (like Hall and Oates taught us a few selections ago) a world outside of high school. Being a considerable amount older than I was the first time I heard this song, I look back with reverence to the days when this kind of sentiment really touched me, and I felt like I could relate. At any rate, take time to savor this moment…it doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure!
This song is so much fun because it’s a great illustration of how we as Westerners perceive the history of knowledge. It’s also a reminder that no matter how much knowledge one acquires, there are some questions that just can’t be answered with formal education. Despite this, the Kinks know that an education is a great asset. Set side-by-side with the lyrics from the James Brown song, perhaps someone could craft a thesis on perspectives on the importance of having a degree!
Some kids have a simple dream – a dream that one day, by the grace of unknown forces, their entire school building would burn down to the ground. Whether or not you once viewed school as an institution of oppression, I think every kid secretly wished for a day that some small and inconsequential disaster might befall the school, thus allowing a day or two of freedom. This Neue Deutsche Welle jam (whether you understand German or not) pretty well explicates every kid’s desire to play hooky.
This track really hits home how gender constructs affect young girls, especially while experiencing a fledgling sexuality. It can be overwhelming for young ladies to try to conform to standards of beauty and femininity, and I’m speaking from personal experience! I had a hard time fitting in with any specific group of girls from middle school to high school, and mostly what seemed important to me was standing out for my talent and individuality (although I still spent a ridiculous amount of time in the mornings on my hair and makeup). Like the subject in the song, I was direly devoted to the Velvet Underground my freshman year. From classical clarinetist to entertainment guru of the high school newspaper, my academic achievements and my quirky taste in music were what I wished to be recognized for, rather than looks.
While other songs may be subtler in their approach, this track by the Smiths really drives home the idea of institutionalized oppression. It proffers a very polarized idea, complete with military analogies, of what it is to be in school. Nevertheless, when you hear Morrissey’s sweet vocals croon over that distinctive new wave guitar riff, it’s impossible not to listen! After all, everyone has a very subjective view on education, and it wouldn’t be a proper playlist without a varied opinion. It’s the basis for any thorough study of society!
This song is especially near and dear to my heart, as it was the first song I ever taught myself on guitar. My parents had always encouraged me to explore my musical talents. My mother bought me a top-of-the-line Buffet R-13 clarinet in the 6th grade, and my desire to learn music became insatiable. By father was the one who gave me my first guitar, and in the 7th grade I spent my weekends at his house plucking away to all the White Stripes songs from their first three albums. Besides being an extremely sweet song lyrically, the music itself is very simple, invoking elementary school days, when the most important thing at school was meeting your best friend at the lunch table and swapping stories on the playground. This song will always encourage me to keep on learning, and to hold dear the small things in life that make us all human on the inside.
- Beach Boys - Be True to Your School
- The Police - Don't Stand So Close To Me
- Van Halen - Hot For Teacher
- Dead Kennedys - Jock O Rama
- MC5 - High School
If you’re still itching for more ways to celebrate the new school year, be sure to stop by the Lomography Gallery Store Austin for the Student Special Analogue Dialogue Community Night on Wednesday, September 26th from 6 – 8 pm, where yours truly will be the student keynote speaker! The discussion is open to students and educators of all ages and all walks of life. For those of you just getting started with Lomography, go have a look at the awesome new Beginner's Guide that’s sure to inspire your inner analogue student!
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