Monday’s Music Moves Me – Songs about School

It’s that time of year when another school year has just started. You can’t escape the start of a new school year because before your summer vacation is even close to coming to an end, you’re getting inundated with Back to School commercials on TV and radio and after a while you accept it, get onboard and join in the craze to shop the Tax-Free Weekend hoping that the things you buy qualify as tax-free BTS items (they usually don’t). This time of year always takes me on a trip down memory lane as I remember all those years of wishing that Labor Day weekend wouldn’t end because that was it, the carefree fun of the summer was over.

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me theme is Songs about School. Here are a few of my favorite school-oriented songs.

School’s Out by Alice Cooper – “School’s Out” is a 1972 song first recorded as the title track single of Alice Cooper’s fifth album and written by the Alice Cooper band: Cooper, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith.

Cooper has said he was inspired to write the song when answering the question, “What’s the greatest three minutes of your life?” Cooper said: “There’s two times during the year. One is Christmas morning, when you’re just getting ready to open the presents. The greed factor is right there. The next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school when you’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning. I said, ‘If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it’s going to be so big.'”

Cooper has also said it was inspired by a line from a Bowery Boys movie. The title (and song) were inspired by a warning often said in Bowery Boys movies in which one of the characters declares to another, “School is out,” meaning “to wise up.” The Bowery Boys were characters featured in 48 movies that ran from 1946-1958. They were young tough guys in New York City who were always finding trouble. The movies ran on American TV throughout the ’60s and ’70s, eating up a lot of air time on independent stations. It was one of these TV viewings that Cooper saw. In the film, the character Sach (Huntz Hall) did something dumb, which prompted one of the other guys to say, “Hey, Sach, School’s Out!” Cooper like the way the phrase sounded and used it as the basis for this song.

On his radio show, “Nights with Alice Cooper”, he joked that the main riff of the song was inspired by a song by Miles Davis. Cooper said that guitarist Glen Buxton created the song’s opening riff.

The lyrics of “School’s Out” indicate that not only is the school year ended for summer vacation, but ended forever, and that the school itself has been blown up. It incorporates the childhood rhyme, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks” into its lyrics. It also featured children contributing some of the vocals. The song appropriately ends with a school bell sound that fades out.

In a 2008 Esquire interview, Cooper said: “When we did ‘School’s Out,’ I knew we had just done the national anthem. I’ve become the Francis Scott Key of the last day of school.”

“School’s Out” became Alice Cooper’s first major hit single, reaching #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart and propelling the album to #2 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 75 song for 1972. In Canada, the single went to #3 on the RPM Top Singles Chart following the album reaching #1. In Britain, the song went to #1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in August 1972. It also marked the first time that Alice Cooper became regarded as more than just a theatrical novelty act.

Some radio stations banned the song from their airwaves, stating that the song gave the students an impression of rebelliousness against childhood education. Teachers, parents, principals, counselors, and psychologists also shunned the song and demanded several radio stations ban the song from ever being played on the air. REALLY?? Wow!

How I miss the days of vinyl! This album opened like a school desk and contained a pair of paper panties. This is the kind of “added value” you just don’t get with CDs. Did any of you own that album?

The song is definitely an end of school-year and summer vacation anthem, but it was also used in a Back to School campaign a few years back:

In 2004, the song was also used in a Staples television commercial for the back to school retail period in which Alice appeared as himself. A young girl with black hair, obviously disappointed that school is starting soon, says, “I thought you said ‘School’s out forever.'” Alice (who’s pushing a shopping cart full of her school supplies) replies, “No, no, no … the song goes, ‘School’s out for summer.’ Nice try though.”

 

My Old School by Steely Dan – “My Old School” is a single drawn from Steely Dan’s 1973 album Countdown to Ecstasy. It reached number 63 on the Billboard charts.

The “Old School” referred to in this song is Bard College in Annandale, New York, where Donald Fagen and Walter Becker met. The song is at least partially inspired by an event that occurred at Bard, where both Becker and Fagen, along with their girlfriends, were arrested in a pot raid on a party that was orchestrated by an ambitious young District Attorney named G. Gordon Liddy (hence the line “Tried to warn ya about Geno and Daddy G”). Despite the fact that California has not (yet) tumbled into the sea, both Fagen and Becker have returned to Bard.

This song is so rich with musical artistry. The horns and the guitar work are amazing. Crank this one up for sure!

 

Back to School Again by The Four Tops from the Grease 2 sountrack – “Back To School Again” is the opening number from the 1982 musical Grease 2. With music by Louis St. Louis and lyrics by Howard Greenfield, this uptempo track which features nearly the entire cast, runs to well over six and a half minutes, and contains some classy choreography every bit as impressive in its own way as Michael Jackson’s classic Thriller video; the song’s most noticeable feature is its heavy base line; the theme is evident from the title – first day back after the long American Summer vacation.

The main vocals are performed by The Four Tops, and the horn arrangements are by Andy Huson.

 

Smokin’ in the Boys Room by Brownsville Station – “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” is a song originally recorded by Brownsville Station in 1973 on their album Yeah! It reached number 3 in Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was later certified by the RIAA. It was written by Brownsville Station lead singer/guitarist Michael “Cub” Koda. Koda wrote for various music magazines, including Goldmine, until he died in 2000.

This song is about a group of schoolboys who sneak out of class to smoke tobacco in the boys’ bathroom, only to be found by the principal who reminds them “No smoking allowed in school.” Cub Koda got the idea for the song from memories of hanging out at a movie theater with his childhood friends – they would smuggle cigarettes lifted from their parents into the men’s room at the Clinton Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Friday nights. Coda says the “old duffer” who owned the theater would come after them, but never caught them in the act.

When he found himself in a band, Koda drew from this experience to write the song, shifting the scene from the movie house to the schoolhouse.

It took Koda just a half hour to write the song and an hour for the band to record it. They didn’t think much of it, but the song became far and away their biggest hit. Brownsville Station – comprised of Koda, bass player Michael Lutz and drummer Henry Weck at the time – had released two album previous to Yeah! and were enjoying regional acclaim around Michigan when “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” took them to the national level.

Good Lord, do I remember smokin’ in the lavatories! I don’t smoke anymore. I quit back in August of 1996. But for a good number of years, I was a pretty heavy smoker. I started smoking at a really young age (11) so in junior high and then high school, us “cool kids” were always packed into the stalls in between classes puffin’ away, trying to get in as many drags as we could before the bell rang. I only remember getting caught once. It was during the middle of a class period and I was the only one in the bathroom when I heard the ‘clack, clack, clack’ of heels coming into the bathroom so I ditched my cigarette in the toilet and tried to wave away the smoke but naturally there was smoke cloud billowing above my stall. I guess I was pretty fortunate because even though I was often doing bad things back then, the teachers all liked me so I rarely got in trouble (I was an honor student after all). I came out of the stall and said, “Hi Mrs. (I can’t remember her name)” and she just looked at me with this disappointing look and said, “Get back to class Michele.” Okay. Thanks!

Does this song bring back memories for you?

 

School Days by the Kinks – This song is from Schoolboys in Disgrace (or The Kinks Present Schoolboys in Disgrace), a 1975 album by the Kinks.

The front cover was illustrated by Mickey Finn of T. Rex. It later appeared on NME’s list of the ’50 worst covers of all time’.

According to the back cover liner notes, the story which the album presents is as follows:

Once upon a time there was a naughty little schoolboy. He and his gang were always playing tricks on the teachers and bullying other children in the school. One day he got himself into very serious trouble with a naughty schoolgirl and he was sent to the Headmaster who decided to disgrace the naughty boy and his gang in front of the whole school.

After this punishment the boy turned into a hard and bitter character. Perhaps it was not the punishment that changed him but the fact that he realised people in authority would always be there to kick him down and the Establishment would always put him in his place. He knew that he could not change the past but he vowed that in the future he would always get what he wanted. The naughty little boy grew up… into Mr Flash.

Mr Flash was the name of the villain from the Kinks’ rock opera Preservation (released as Preservation Act 1 and Preservation Act 2).

I don’t know about you but, like the song says, my school days were some of the happiest and most fun times in my life. Although I went through my share of shit back then, for the most part, I enjoyed being a popular kid in school and had a ton of wild and crazy friends and we did some really wild and crazy things…things that keep me smiling and laughing to this day. This song really says it, how I feel about school.

 

What are you favorite songs about school? How do you feel about school? Did you like it, hate it? Why?

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.

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33 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Moves Me – Songs about School

    • Me too. But I also kinda wish I could go back there, to those days of no responsibilities really, and a totally carefree existence. And all the laughter…so much laughter! I do miss it sometimes. And I actually always enjoyed school, especially college. Loved learning…when it was interesting, that is. Business Calculus: nah! Economics: nah! But Psychology, especially Abnormal Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Consumer Behavior, Advertising, Criminology, Police Practices, Legal Aspects: loved all that stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t seen Grease or Grease 2 in ages! But I remember seeing them at the theater when they came out. So long ago!

      Like

  1. Michele,

    I liked school for the most part but I always like summer break more. The only year I really disliked was my senior year and that’s because I was in a new school without a single friend. I moved to this area in between my junior and senior year. You may recall that’s when I got married. Anywho, being married sorta set me apart from my peers and being a little on the self-conscience (low self-esteem issues) I had a hard time fitting in which made me a little miserable. I was glad to get that year behind me. I didn’t have this problem with college. It felt fresh and I began to feel at ease with myself, too. Of course, my low self-esteem didn’t dissolve until sometime in my 30s. Boy, I wish I could’ve been free of this when I was a teenager! Anywho, great tunes for the dance floor. Thanks for joining us today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Cathy,
      That’s too bad about your senior year: that’s not supposed to be a year of misery. But at least you had a husband to come home to. I missed out on my senior year because I graduated after 11th grade since I had enough credits (from going to summer school two summers in a row and taking advance classes, which really wasn’t bad: I had a blast in summer school too, believe it or not). So I missed the senior prom and all the fun senior days but I was also sleeping in and goofing off while everyone else was in school so that was kinda cool. Then I started college half a year early and that started a whole new phase of fun. 🙂
      I was certainly a lot more social back then than I am now. I was more social until about the time I sold my bar (in the mid-90s)…now I’m a homebody. Going out now is like pulling teeth half the time. I’d rather stay home with the dogs!

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  2. Hi, Michele!

    I enjoyed your post reminding us that millions of kids are heading back to class for another school year. Let us pray that it will be a safe year for one and all. I remember learning that interesting piece of trivia about the Bowery Boys being the inspiration for the Alice Cooper band’s hit song “School’s Out.” As a kid I watched the Bowery Boys shorts practically every day after school. Their films played in rotation with the Our Gang comedies and Laurel & Hardy film classics.
    That little girl in the Staples spot was right and Vince Furnier got it wrong. The lyrics to “School’s Out” actually do include “school’s out forever.” I mention Vince F. to remind us that Alice Cooper is the name of the band, not only the band’s leader, the same as the Marilyn Manson band in my current post.

    You’re right. That Steely Dan song “My Old School” sparkles I love the glorious horn and guitar work. I remember Brownsville Station and their hit “Smokin’ In The Boys Room.” Motley Crue put more power and muscle into their cover of the song and their video became a hit on MTV and was heavily requested by viewers of the music TV station where I worked in the 80s. This is the first time I am hearing the Kinks’ song “Schooldays.” My memories of school days aren’t quite as happy as yours. Most of my friends attended other schools and hung out at the Shady Dell. My class just held their 50 year reunion and I didn’t even consider going to it – absolutely no desire.

    I already shared with Cathy K that the first school days song that came to my mind was “The New Girl In School,” the B side of the Jan & Dean single “Dead Man’s Curve.” Another that occurred to me just now is “Hot Rod High,” the fab flip side of “Little Honda” by the Hondells. It’s interesting that both songs that popped into my mind are B sides and both were released in 1964.

    Thank you very much for putting me in a school daze this morning, dear friend Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Tom. I wasn’t familiar with either of the songs you mentioned and just went and checked them out. They’re definitely songs of their time: I liked the New Girl in School and Hot Rod High. That is interesting that both songs you immediately thought of were both B sides and came out in 1964!

      Regarding the Staples commercial and Alice saying that the lyrics didn’t say “School’s out forever” — I saw that and said, “Ah, yes they did”. That was kind of odd. Sounds like they couldn’t come up with anything to fit so they just said something erroneous…

      I always thought Brownsville Station did the better version of Smokin’ in the Boys Room, over Motley Crue. But maybe that’s because they were the first and it’s how I best remember the song.

      Hope you’re having a good weekend.

      Like

  3. Great selections, and I love the Alice Cooper commercial. Staples does some great back-to-school ones, like the one where the father is dancing through the aisles to “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” and his kids are slouching behind him, hanging their heads…

    For all the weirdness and Goth, Alice Cooper is a pretty straight kind of guy. There was a beautiful interview with him after Glen Campbell died. I guess they were very close.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi John.
      I’ll have to look that Alice Cooper interview on Glen Campbell. I didn’t realize they were close friends. Interesting matchup there!

      thanks for stopping by…

      Like

  4. The Alice Cooper commercial is a true classic. At my high school, we had designated smoking areas on campus so there was no need to smoke in the boys room. You just had to go to one of those areas and puff away.

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    • Hey Patrick,
      Just found this one in Spam too. Sorry!
      We finally got a smoking lounge in our school too but it was only for seniors and you needed to have a parental permission slip. I snuck in there all the time because I wasn’t a senior. But it sure beat being jammed into stalls puffing away!

      Like

  5. I always did well in school, that is, until I got to college. Then I think I was a bit… distracted. Fun songs today! I don’t think I had ever heard the Grease 2 song before today. You made some great choices today!

    ~Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Distracted? Whatever by, Mary?? 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by. I think I’m skipping the 4M tomorrow. Just not feeling it today…

      Like

      • I hear ya on the not feeling it. If I hadn’t of written my post this past week, it probably wouldn’t happen. I’m struggling with motivation lately. Still haven’t written my post for Thursday – I have a topic in mind, just haven’t written it. So, skipping that for now and working on next week’s Monday post. Hopefully, I’ll get around to doing the Thursday post in time. If not, oh well…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yep, I’m at the “oh well” stage too. “oh well, too bad, so sad” — Lol. Motivation is a tricky thing. Sometimes ya got it and sometimes ya don’t. I suffer from the “don’t got it” more often than the “got it” for sure!

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  6. You started smoking when you were 11? Michele! Shame on you! I waited until I was 12. So that Alice Cooper album came with a pair of paper panties. What, pray tell, did the paper panties represent? I wasn’t very interested in Alice Cooper when I was a kid, but I’ve come to appreciate him (or them) as an adult. He has a good sense of humor and doesn’t have a problem with making fun of his image. I think the last time I saw Grease 2 was at a drive-in not long after it came out. I enjoyed the clip from the movie. Michelle Pfeiffer was gorgeous then, and she’s gorgeous now. (It must be something about women named Michelle–or Michele.) These songs brought back some good memories for me. I hated some parts of school and enjoyed some parts, especially smokin’ in the girls room.

    Love,
    Janie

    Liked by 1 person

    • you mentioned Drive-Ins. Wow, how I miss the Drive-ins. They were so fun. I have a ton of special memories from when I was a kid and my parents took me to see all those fun movies like Herbie the Love Bug…and then when I went with a bunch of guys from the neighborhood that I hung out with to see one of the Dirty Harry sequels — and one of the guys had already seen the movie and kept making comments throughout like “ooh, this is my favorite part” and I finally said (yelled) “It might be my favorite part too if you’d SHUT UP!!. It was funny…and yes, you had to be there to appreciate it. But I always think of that whenever I see a Dirty Harry movie…
      I hear that Drive-ins are going to make a comeback…???

      Like

  7. We have a few alike here… gotta tell you why I didn’t think of Smokin’ in the Boysroom is beyond me!!! I use to tend bar at this one place years ago while I was in school (studying to be a paralegal) & the only cool song they had on the jukebox was “Smokin’ in the Boysroom”! bwahahahaha You’ve rocked the house my friend!!! Great job! Sorry I’m so late, but it was really a hectic day. Doin’ a lot of tests on me you think I was a guinea pig 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually never heard the Motley Crue version until someone posted it for the School theme here. I still like Brownsville Station’s version but that’s probably because that’s the one I grew up with…
      Thanks for coming by!

      Like

    • hmm, I never heard Nils Lofgren’s Kool Skool. Just checked it out. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

      Hope you’ve had a good weekend. Got your email: not sure why your comments are all the sudden needing to be moderated. That happens to Tom Anderson’s comments too. I have no idea why WordPress suddenly took a disliking to you two! 🙂 But I still like ya and that’s all that matters!

      Like

    • Thanks Colette! I just found your comment in my spam folder. Sorry ’bout that. I’m getting better at checking that spam folder. Don’t know why WordPress does this sometimes. But I’ll be more vigilant about checking. Sorry it took me so long to respond.

      Like

  8. “School’s Out” would have been my school anthem except I was already in college by then! In high school I was so uninterested I would just hang out in the back and read books – I’ll have to tell one of those stories one of those days. But one thing I never did was smoke. I never was a “cool kid” and I did everything I could to avoid the bathroom! Great choices, all. Loved finding out the story behind the first two songs – G. Gordon Liddy indeed. You made my day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to hear some of your stories Alana! I hope you post some soon!
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m skipping the 4M tomorrow. I’m too tired to do a post and I was sick all day yesterday so I’m going to bed super early tonight…

      Like

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