Perfect Back to School Playlist
Labor Day has passed, and that means three things: 1) Time to put away your summer whites; 2) Time for the new TV season; 3) Time to get your butt back into an uncomfortable desk. Music has celebrated our school days at least as far back as Chuck Berry, though some may argue that Mozart’s “Concerto For A Priggish Principal in D Flat Minor” really kicked off the genre.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about school songs is the wide territory covered by the genre. The Beach Boys wanted us to be true to our school and Alice Cooper wanted us to blow up the joint. That makes sense since our relationships with school range from love to apathy to hatred, sometimes all in the same day.
Love it or hate it, there are plenty of songs to get you back into the school mood. Without further adieu — and before the bell rings — here is our Perfect Back to School Playlist:
From 1985’s legendary ‘Meat Is Murder,’ here’s Morrissey in full blown angst mode. “Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools,” the singer asserts, and those of us in the states are left feeling both glad we didn’t go through the knuckle-bashing U.K. school system and also a little envious. My principal was concerned mostly with untucked shirts and feet on walls. Come on!
‘Rock and Roll High School’
Every generation claims the Ramones as theirs, but Da Boyz belong to the fifties more than any other decade. Their take on school is the classic back row, spitwad shooting, bra strap snapping juvenile delinquents, and it accompanies the cult classic film of the same name. Gabba gabba hey!
‘I Hate My School’
You’re busy, I get that. You don’t have time for the whopping two minutes and 23 seconds required to listen to a Ramones epic. Ohio’s Necros can state their case in almost half the time at 1:13. If you aren’t familiar with the band, don’t worry: I promise this won’t be on the test. Sit back and enjoy the ’80s punk fury.
Okay, I let you slip on the Necros, but this one will be on the test. In a rather odd twist, the ‘Mats were Prince‘s contemporaries on the Minneapolis rock scene and staples on college radio, which begat alternative, which begat indie music. Know your history!
‘Back To School (Mini Maggit)’
In the mid-2000s Sacramento’s Deftones brought the rock back to indie music. These guys played hard and they still do, though the untimely death of bassist Chi Cheng definitely leaves a big gap in that lineup. Let’s take that as a lesson outside the boundaries of the textbooks, kids: be careful on the roads on your way back to school. We don’t want to lose any of you to car accidents.
Pop quiz: from what classic novel did Pencey Prep take its name? If you said ‘Catcher In the Rye,’ then go to head of the class. If you didn’t, I’ll see you after school. You need to write “Read J.D. Salinger” a hundred times on my chalkboard.
‘Back to School’
The second ‘Back to School’ track on this list is also one of our favorites. Royal Trux may be no more, but Neil Hagerty is still getting it done with The Howling Hex. Check them out — there will absolutely be a pop quiz.
Come on, you know this one. My grandmother knows this one, and she’s been dead for five years. This is a cool cut that really captures the vibe of walking around on campus. Vampire Weekend isn’t out on the road right now, but when they are be sure to check them out — always a good show (and a much needed break from studying).
The Auteurs were one of the ’90s great bands. This cut comes from their last album, ‘How I Learned to Love the Bootboys,’ but don’t panic: lead Auteur Luke Haines is still out there and this song will always be a part of any back to school playlist.