Music appreciation: Songs about school
June 15th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Music appreciation: Songs about school

By Jordan Bienstock, CNN

(CNN) – With students around the country anticipating – and then celebrating – that final bell before summer, there is one song that is absolutely inescapable this time of year.

“No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.” (All together now) “School’s out for summer!”

So it seems like the perfect opportunity to delve into some music appreciation, specifically songs about schools:

“School’s Out” – Alice Cooper


We might as well start with the inspiration for this list. Alice Cooper’s hard rock ode to the end of the school year helped make the band a mainstay of mainstream culture for 40 years and counting.

“Be True to Your School” – The Beach Boys
It’s hard to argue with loyalty to one’s alma mater, even if the urging is to be true, “just like you would to your girl or guy.” Extra credit for working “braggart” and “letterman sweater” into the lyrics.

“Harper Valley P.T.A.” – Jeannie C. Riley


Called out for “wearing [her] dresses way too high” and supposedly being an unfit parent, a widow struts into a P.T.A. meeting and puts the board members on blast for their own hypocrisy.

“Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” – Motley Crue
The titular act of defiance may seem fairly mild compared to some of the Crue’s other musical topics of excess, but this cover of a Brownsville Station song is really just about the teenage desire to rebel against authority.

“To Sir, With Love” – Lulu
It doesn’t carry quite the same impact unless you’ve seen the movie of the same title, but this theme song giving thanks to those teachers who help shape us still packs an emotional punch.

“Hot for Teacher” – Van Halen
“I don’t feel tardy.” A perfect elevation of the clichéd schoolboy crush to ‘80s lecherous indulgence. It may sound odd to say this song is from a more innocent time (it’s certainly not an innocent subject matter), but this was years before scandalous teacher-student relationships made headlines.

“Flowers Are Red” – Harry Chapin
A not-so-thinly veiled indictment of a school system that squashes out creativity and mandates conformity. Forcing children to color inside the lines isn’t fascism… but apparently it’s close.

“Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” – Pink Floyd
As a stand-alone, this song doesn’t really impart much of a message, other than that the teacher should really leave them kids alone. But be honest, could you imagine leaving this off the list?

“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” – The Ramones
No one’s ever going to accuse The Ramones of having the most intricate lyrics. But admit it: at least once, we all dreamed of attending Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.

“Graduation (Friends Forever)” – Vitamin C
Give a big assist to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, which this song samples heavily, and another to the brilliant title, which guaranteed heavy play at graduation ceremonies for years.

What school-themed songs would you nominate for inclusion on the list? Share your favorites in the Comments section below.

Posted by
Filed under: Extracurricular • Music • Teachers • video
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Charlie

    We are going to be friends- The White Stripes

    June 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  2. graves

    another brick in the wall – pink floyd

    June 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  3. Buddy Andrews

    Birdland-Manhatten Transfer
    Freedom of Choice-Earth Wind and Fire

    June 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  4. David

    Teacher I Need You -Elton John

    I Love You Period -Dan Baird

    June 18, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  5. Steve

    Cheap Trick – "Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School"

    June 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  6. Jiller

    Another brick in the wall, PInk Floyd

    June 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  7. Solo

    Ugh – the song by Vitamin C made this list? Yuk.
    I like the suggestion from Paul Simon..."when I think back on all the crap I learned in High School..."
    but Alice Cooper's "Schools Out" song is the classic!

    June 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  8. The Choobs

    And a third from me, then I'm put: "Teacher Teacher" by Rockpile:

    Lesson one, just begun
    Growing up, ain`t much fun
    Grown up, out of school
    Out of luck and out of rules
    No one there to tell me how
    A different world – teacher, teacher, teach me now

    June 16, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  9. The Choobs

    Another one: Janis Ian's "At 17":

    I learned the truth at seventeen
    That love was meant for beauty queens
    And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
    Who married young and then retired

    June 16, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  10. The Choobs

    "Popular" by Nada Surf is a must for this list.

    June 16, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  11. Matthew

    "When I Kissed The Teacher" – ABBA

    June 16, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  12. verystrange

    The River by Bruce Springsteen – "Me and Mary, we met in high school, when she was just seventeen..."

    June 16, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  13. verystrange

    Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen – "I had a friend, was a big baseball player back in high school..."

    June 16, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  14. Keith

    Teacher's Pet – GG Allin

    June 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  15. Leslie Havens

    School Days; Plagiarize by Tom Lehrer, Graduation Day, Fight Fiercely Harvard by Lehrer

    June 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      Time to poison the pigeons in the park!

      June 18, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  16. VW

    Oh Yea – and Don't Stand so Close to Me by Sting– "Loose talk in the classroom/ To hurt they try and try / Strong words in the staffroom / The accusations fly / It's no use, he sees her/ He starts to shake and cough

    June 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  17. VW

    No Such Thing by John Mayer ""I just can't wait 'til my ten-year reunion / I'm gonna bust down the double doors / And when I stand on these tables before you / You will know what all this time was for".

    June 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  18. Steven Gaynor

    "Teach Me Tonight", music by Gene DePaul, lyrics by Sammy Cahn. Covered by just about everybody; my favorite was Al Jarreau on his Breakin' Away album in 1981.

    "Graduation Day" by the Beach Boys.

    June 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    Diana Ross – 'Do You Know'

    June 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  20. Johnny

    Kodachrome by Paul Simon – "when I think back on all the crap I learned in High School"

    June 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm |