Early September evokes a back-to-school feeling even long after you graduate—and so do certain songs. Click though for 15 classics from what Lulu called "those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails."
"To Sir, With Love" (Lulu)
"But how do you thank someone / Who has taken you from crayons to perfume? / It isn't easy, but I'll try"
This is the title song from the 1967 British movie starring Sidney Poitier as a teacher in a tough London school. Lulu appears as one of his students. The single held the No. 1 slot on the Billboard chart for five weeks.
"Rock 'n' Roll High School" (The Ramones)
"I hate the teachers and the principal / Don't want to be taught to be no fool"
The punk rockers memorably performed this song in a 1979 movie of the same name. After parents try to burn a pile of the kids' records, the students destroy their school with explosives while the Ramones play on, just outside the school's walls.
"School Days" (Chuck Berry)
"Up in the mornin' and out to school / The teacher is teachin' the Golden Rule / American history and practical math / You study 'em hard and hopin' to pass"
Talk about a simpler time, huh? This 1957 classic is a track from "After School Session," Berry's debut LP. "Hail, hail rock and roll / Deliver me from the days of old." Indeed!
"Hot for Teacher" (Van Halen)
"I think of all the education that I missed / But then my homework was never quite like this / Ow got it bad, got it bad, got it bad / I'm hot for teacher"
The music video of this 1984 release pretty much says it all. Hot teacher strips off her dress and struts around on her students' desktops like she's on a runway. You know, just like in real life.
"School's Out" (Alice Cooper)
"Out for summer / Out till fall / We might not go back at all"
Alice's 1972 single was a big hit with kids; with grown-ups, not so much. Parents and educators got up in arms against the rebellious song and even pressured some radio stations to quit playing it.
"Don't Stand So Close to Me" (The Police)
"Young teacher, the subject / Of schoolgirl fantasy / She wants him so badly"
This 1980 track was inspired by lead singer Sting's earlier gig teaching English to impressionable schoolgirls. He even compares himself to "the old man in that Nabokov book," a reference to "Lolita."
"Wonderful World" (Sam Cooke)
"Don't know much about history / Don't know much biology / Don't know much about a science book / Don't know much about the French I took"
This 1960 classic turns out to be a young love song at heart. But it's also the tune that's heard as Bluto (John Belushi) gathers his weaponry for the infamous food fight scene in "Animal House." 'Nuff said.
"My Old School" (Steely Dan)
"Well, I did not think the girl / Could be so cruel / And I'm never going back / To my old school"
Donald Fagan and Walter Becker wrote this track about an incident at Bard College in 1969 when the two pals were caught in a pot raid. The song was released in 1973 on the "Countdown to Ectasy" LP.
"Harper Valley P.T.A." (Jeannie C. Riley)
"Well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn't even stop to play/She said, 'Mom, I got a note here from the Harper Valley P.T.A.' / The note said, 'Mrs. Johnson, you're wearing your dresses way too high'…"
A widowed mother gets called out for acting fast and loose by small-town P.T.A. members who aren't exactly model citizens themselves. The hit single, in which Mrs. Johnson exposes her judges as the hypocrites that they are, sold over million copies.
"Another Brick in the Wall" (Pink Floyd)
"We don't need no education / We don't need no thought control / No dark sarcasm in the classroom / Teachers, leave them kids alone"
Part of Pink Floyd's 1979 rock opera "The Wall," the song was banned in South Africa after organizers of a nationwide school boycott against apartheid adopted it as their movement's theme.
"Growing Up" (Bruce Springsteen)
"I pushed B-52 and bombed them with the blues / With my gear set stubborn on standing / I broke all the rules / Strafed my old high school / Never once gave thought to landing"
These words came from a 23-year-old with a lot to prove. The track is off Springsteen's 1973 debut album, "Greetings From Asbury Park," and it's ripe with the kind of youthful rebellion we came to expect from the product of New Jersey's public school system.
"I Don't Like Mondays" (Boomtown Rats)
"The silicon chip inside her head / Gets switched to overload / And nobody's gonna go to school today / She's going to make them stay at home"
Lead singer Bob Geldof wrote the lyrics after a 16-year-old girl went on a shooting spree at a San Diego elementary school playground, killing two adults and injuring eight children. When asked why she did it, the girl explained, "I don't like Mondays."
"Getting Better" (The Beatles)
"I used to get mad at my school (No, I can't complain) / The teachers who taught me weren't cool"
Struggling in school isn't the only topic of this 1967 track from "Sgt. Pepper." There's also the part that goes: "I used to be cruel to my woman / I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved." Dark stuff from the Fab Four.
"Smokin' in the Boys Room" (Brownsville Station)
"Sittin' in the classroom thinkin' it's a drag / Listening to the teacher rap just ain't my bag / When two bells ring you know it's my cue / Gonna meet the boys on floor number 2"
The original was a Top 10 hit in 1973. Then, in 1985, Motley Crew covered it, complete with a video featuring horror flick fave Michael Berryman ("The Hills Have Eyes") as a school principal.
"Be True to Your School" (Beach Boys)
"I got a letterman's sweater / With a letter in front / I got for football and track / I'm proud to wear it now / When I cruise around"
Not everyone's a cynic. Brian Wilson and Mike Love actually wrote this 1963 single to the tune of their California high school's fight song. Now that's what we call school spirit!
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