It’s the time that your kids fear and you look forward to the most. The freedom of summer will soon give way to the cooling of autumn. As June and July fade into August, kids and parents everywhere are gearing up for another school year.
It’s no secret that rock and roll has a complicated relationship with the idea of organized education. The rebellious nature of the genre means that the two are often at odds. But here now are five of rock and roll’s greatest songs about school.
“(She’s) Sexy and Seventeen” by Stray Cats – Brian Setzer fronted this rockabilly throwback band from the 1980s. The song tells the story of a young teenager rebelling against the structure of the classroom, while pining for the love and attention of a classmate. It’s one of their signature songs and features everything you love about the Stray Cats: swagger, attitude, and style.
“Charlie Brown” by The Coasters – From the early years of rock and do-wop comes this classic from The Coasters. The title character, of no relation to the boy from the Peanuts cartoons, is the quintessential class clown. He’s always in trouble with the teachers but can’t quite figure out why. As he says in the song, “Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?”
“Be True To Your School” by The Beach Boys – This song’s lyrics are perfect summation of all the trauma and drama of high school. There are cheerleaders, sports, cruising in your car, and boys and girls. It follows that Beach Boys formula of great harmonies and catchy melodies with a “Rah, Rah Sis Boom Bah” hook in the chorus that will have you whistling this tune long after it finishes.
“Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” by Paul Simon – It’s one of Simon’s most famous songs and it shows what he does better than many of his peers: lyric writing. The story revolves around a rebellious youth and the trouble he gets into (which is eluded to, but never quite fully disclosed), and creates a scene of a different and simpler time, and Simon’s performance easily lets the wordy verses flow, not feeling contrived in the least.
“My Generation” by The Who – Perhaps no other song in rock as perfectly encapsulates that youthful angst and rebellion quite like this Who vintage number. The lyrics are a direct assault on the older generation, and if it isn’t clear that the iconic rock group who would inspire bands like Green Day were on the side of the youth movement they were a part of, their instruction to their elders to “just fade away,” with an exaggerated emphasis on the “F” in fade gets the message across loud and clear.