School is a perennial theme of rock and roll that, on the whole, doesn’t fare too well. Sure, the Beach Boys have that cheery “Be True to Your School” vibe going but they’re an outlier. More typically school appears as a burden, as something to escape from, preferably as soon as possible. The traditional sentiments were ably established in Chuck Berry’s classic “School Days” back in 1957. More recently Australian indie poprockers Starky summed things up with “Theme from High School” from their 2004 debut LP Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre.
Ok, so high school sucks. What about higher education? Is there musical love for technical college or university? Our mix of tunes offers a range of views, as is only appropriate for academe. Rogue Wave conjure up the uncertainty that is the uni experience for many on “College” from 2013’s Nightingale Floors. Things are less cerebral for 2 Wheeled Tricycle’s “College.” Here the issue is more about whether to go or not to, egged on by some nice edgy synth riffs. Gentle Hen vibe some Hayden on “College Town,” a song with a sunny, good times feel and just a hint of darkness. Timmy Sean spares a moment during his concept album A Tale From the Other Side for his protagonist to reflect on “The College Year” and how decisions taken then impact what comes later, delivered with Sean’s larger than life theatrical pop hooks. The Incredible Casuals are all about the party experience. On “College Girls” the band execute their unerring rock and roll chops with shimmery guitars and some seriously melodic humming.
Advancing up the academic ladder, Toronto’s hHead bash out a great melodic rock and roll tribute to higher education on “University.” A more indie Grapes of Wrath or Northern Pikes is what I hear here. Former The Trend songwriter John McMullan has put out a few great solo tunes, like his tell-all expose of legal education on “Law School.” I love the Springsteen organ and the hooky guitar lines all over this song. And McMullan actually did become a lawyer. Winnipeg music veteran John K. Samson knows academe as well as the music biz and captures every grad student’s dilemma on “When I Write My Masters’ Thesis.” Then he updated his musical academic CV in 2016 with “Postdoc Blues.” I guess he got that MA thesis written after all.
Forget enrolling in some school of rock, you can learn about great music just about anywhere. Like here. Right on this blog. Just scroll back through the posts for your own do-it-yourself degree in poprock.