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Whether people are willing to admit it or not, the days of youth spent in school are some of the most important in our lives. Not only will you begin routines that will carry you through your twenties, most of us will meet our best of friends and start careers. Whether or not your experience was good or bad, we all go through the education system. This week, at least for my part of the country, starting tomorrow, school is back in session. The busses will pick up the kids and the teachers will teach. Oh the humanity.
For as long as I can remember, there have been some great aspects about going back to school, as well as some really shitty ones. I can recall my first time going to college and swapping playlists with this girl that I was making a move on. She told me about this little band called Islands. I can also remember being hot for the teacher who taught my TV production class in high school and I remember the not so great moments. The conformity most of my peers adhered too was annoying and the fact that I did not really know what I wanted to do with my life was jarring. Like everyone going to school, we all go through these motions to a certain degree. Unless you were home schooled, the education system and all its glory is one of the three universal aspects of life that everyone experiences. Death, taxes and school.
This week in my column for the pop culture section’s series Weekend Download Recommendations, I will be celebrating the good, bad, memorable, and life changing moments of school --all told through the powerful medium of music. The songs recommended on this installment should help you get through the waking hours of the morning when classes begin tomorrow and will also work with your Grade 9 anxiety. Everybody who is fortunate enough gets to experience school and since classes begin tomorrow, here is my Weekend Download Recommendations to get you ready for school.
Supertamp is one of those progressive rock bands that can seriously rock you with the stadium size sound they have. Nothing is better to wake up to on those lazy Monday mornings before school, than Supertramp’s “School.” The aptly named “School” will get any willing person pumped up for the day’s worth of sitting, listening to teachers ramble on, and bad cafeteria lunch. When I was in High School, on the bus I would listen to this song while others went to sleep or were getting ready for their next nap time during the day. It’s a fantastic song for those, me included, who need that extra jump in the morning that coffee nor redbull can't provide. It’s a classic tune that’ll help your summer-less blues on the first day of school. Or any day of classes for that matter.
Barenaked Ladies “Grade 9”
The Barenaked Ladies have a particular style that sets them aside from many other bands in the alternative rock genre and the music industry in general. The eclectic group have released three children’s albums while also helming a number of platinum and gold records. Considered one of their finest releases to date, their debut effort Gordon helped move the alternative rock genre into respective popularity. With songs like “If I Had $1000000,” “Be My Yoko Ono,” and “Brian Wilson” the band really crushed the whole offering, but the song “Grade 9” is better suited for our topic in this editorial. “Grade 9” talks about the anxieties everyone goes through on their first day of high school. It describes how the beginning of a freshman’s career can be a daunting one, and it also includes the epic line: “half my friends are crazy and the others are depressed and none of them can help me study for my math test.” The song is a perfect remedy to help the fated student understand that he or she is not alone, and there are actually a lot of other people who deal with the same issues as well.
Pink Floyd “The Happiest Days of Our Lives & Another Brick in the Wall”
Pink Floyd is one of those bands that blend the most intellectual style of music with equally smart lyrics. If you’ve read any of my columns in the past, then you might know that I cite Pink Floyd as one of my favorite bands for that very reason. Their insight into the world of corporations, life, death, time, mental illness and school are fascinating. Out of all of their forays though, their discussion of school is by far one of their most acclaimed endeavors. When The Wall was released in 1979, fans of Pink Floyd saw the group delve into topics like conformity and how school is just an illusion for power over people and the death of creativity. Though this might not be a necessarily true aspect of schooling now-a-days, most of us can definitely see some sort of truth in what the British rock group was saying. It seems like football stars and baseball players get more attention than the painter, or heaven forbid the Shakespeare group. “The Happiest Days of Our Lives & Another Brick in the Wall” is a perfect set of songs that help you contemplate this very issue and can help distract you from the fact that Algebra sucks.
Jackson 5 “ABC”
The Jackson 5 is Michael Jackson’s famous group from the 1970’s which consisted of himself and his less talented brothers. In order to appease their father, and also make millions of dollars, the Jackson’s worked frivolously with their art of being some of the finest showmen in history. “ABC” is a song that proves the statement in spades. Every single person who was born before 1990 knows the song as a staple of going to school and there’s a reason for it. While most of us are sitting in a classroom daydreaming, the infectious lyrics of “ABC” pop into our heads and provides our minds with an all out musical of grade school crushes and learning our 123’s and ABC’s. Even our imagination runs off with the hooks, as the song loops in our heads, staring at the clock waiting for our class to end. “ABC” is a magical ditty that can bring the quickest euphoric happiness to any student who’s receiving the blues from a long day in class.
Ben Folds Five The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Ben Folds Five’s The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner is not only their last album, it is undoubtedly their best. The master behind the show tune inspired record, Ben Folds, lets his creative chops out on this record and creates something that is beyond his other work. Songs like “Army,” “Your Redneck Past,” and “Don't Change Your Plans” are all about the youthful angst of not knowing what to do with your life. Everyone, in one way or the other, deals with this common aspect to existence and its Ben Folds' album that gives a little humor to this hard situation. I can remember, as I’m sure many do, when I was adjusting to my first year of college and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I expected myself to understand the route in life I was going to take, yet I still didn’t have any answers. To say the least it was a time that was not easy for me, but through the music of Ben Folds and some heavy words from my freshman academic advisor, I figured out what I wanted to do. The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner is a fantastic record for those who were or are in the same boat that I was. God speed, sailors.
Islands Arms Way
Though many of have gone to college, some might not have experienced the same unique events that are subjective to each person’s experience during this time of eduction. That is the amazing thing about college, and school in general. we all can have totally different events happen to us all in this similar institution of learning. For me, I spent most of my freshman year of college not in the library or even going to classes, but listening to music and making a juvenile attempt at “hitting” on girls. I am far past that time in my life now, but it still reminds me of a great story that fits into this column fairly well. One night when I was hanging outside the library, mind you I wasn’t there for studying, and I met this girl who was a fascinating person to say the least. She wore a “Jesus Christ Superstar” t-shirt and had patches from Pink Floyd, MGMT and Jane’s Addiction on her backpack. I was very impressed with her unique sense of style. Well, I got to talking with her about music, school and the like, she then told me about a band that’s been a consistent favorite in my life. I don’t speak to this person anymore, but her opening my eyes to the Montreal band Islands, specifically their album Arms Way, is a moment in my life that I won’t ever forget. Like my 7th grade history teacher going home during his lunch breaks to burn me Pink Floyd CDs, this girl opened my eyes to indie rock. Similar to that, and like most people whom experience education and school, music is a groundwork that binds us all together.
Van Halen “Hot For Teacher”
Oh yes, I wouldn’t forget about this. In 10th grade I had one of the prettiest teachers in high school. Many of you don’t know, but I’m a budding filmmaker because of her. Not only did I want to work hard and make films to appease her, damn was I a little bugger, but I also learned that making movies is my thing. High school was a great time in my life and my TV production teacher helped make that possible. Here’s a video dedicated to her! Plus, all those other students who were hot for teacher… Enjoy!
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