Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Dire Consequences of Scottish Independence

As you may know, Scottish voters head to the polls today to vote on whether Scotland will break free from the United Kingdom and become an independent country.  As a Scotch lover with a small amount of Scottish blood in me and as someone whose inner monologue was once in a Scottish accent for a year or so after seeing Braveheart, I tend like anything Scottish, but I am a wee bit torn about this vote.  I can see the advantages and disadvantages of independence.  

However, I read an article today that put me firmly in the "No" camp.  The article is entitled "Independence would hit Scotland's whisky sector: bank," and it explains that independence would cause short-term (although the article doesn't define "short-term") problems for the Scotch industry thanks to uncertainty about access to international markets, the applicability of EU agricultural policy (which currently helps farmers who supply grains to distilleries), and what currency an independent Scotland would use.  Please, Scotland, think of the Scotch drinkers above all else when you vote today. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "You Might Think" by The Cars

This past Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the very first MTV Video Music Awards.  Yes kids, MTV used to play music videos.  The most memorable moment of the awards show was Madonna's now-notorious performance of "Like a Virgin" in a wedding dress and bustier, where she simulates some sort of coital activity.  

However, the prize of the night -- the Video of the Year Award -- went to The Cars' "You Might Think," which beat out "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock (who won five awards that night), "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, and "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.  "You Might Think" is one of The Cars' most famous  songs, as well as one of the band's most successful ones, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The video is one of the first to feature computer graphics, which may not seem like a big deal now, in the age of CGI, but it was pretty cutting edge back in 1984.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Hair Band Songs That Charted Outside the Top 40

Back in May, I did a Tuesday Top Ten with hair band one hit wonders.  One of the things that surprised me when I was doing my research for that post (to make sure that certain bands were, in fact, one hit wonders) was that there were a lot of great hair band songs that never cracked the Top 40. So, I decided to do a Tuesday Top Ten of hair band songs that charted outside the Top 40.

Here are the criteria:
1.  The song has to have been released as a single by a hair band.  My definition of "hair band" is relatively loose, since there are some bands who are not traditionally thought of as hair bands who released albums in the '80s that very much had the hair band sound.
2.  The song has to have been released during the Hair Band Era (essentially 1980-1992).  Thus, a song by Bon Jovi in the early 2000s would not count -– not that it would necessarily make the list anyway.
2.  The song has to have appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
3.  The song's highest-charting position on the Billboard Hot 100 must have been between #41 and #100.

As with many of my musically related Tuesday Top Tens, because of the plethora of great songs, it was tough to narrow this down to ten songs, but I did (kind of).  Here are my choices, as well as the other songs I considered.  Both lists are alphabetical by artist, and the number after the song is its peak chart position.

Other songs considered:  "In and Out of Love" by Bon Jovi (#69); "Girlschool" by Britny Fox (#89); "Heartbreak Station" by Cinderella (#44); "House of Fire" by Alice Cooper (#56); "Bringing on the Heartbreak" (remix) by Def Leppard (#61) (note that this is not the original version of the song, or else it would definitely be in my top 10); "Burning Like a Flame" by Dokken (#72); "In My Dreams" by Dokken (#77); "Cherokee" by Europe; "Rock Me" by Great White (#60); "Yesterdays" by Guns N' Roses (#72); "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" by Judas Priest (#67); "Lick It Up" by KISS (#66); "Home Sweet Home" by Mötley Crüe (#89); "Primal Scream" by Mötley Crüe (#63); "Looks That Kill" by Mötley Crüe (#54); "Too Young To Fall In Love" by Mötley Crüe (#90); "Shot in the Dark" by Ozzy Osbourne (#68); "No More Tears" by Ozzy Osbourne (#71); "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" by Quiet Riot (#51); "Wanted Man" by Ratt (#87); "You're In Love" by Ratt (#89); "Rhythm of Love" by The Scorpions (#75); "Wasted Time" by Skid Row (#88); "The Way It Is" by Tesla (#55); "Little Suzi" by Tesla (#91); "Give It To Me Good" by Trixter (#65); "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister (#68); "And The Cradle Will Rock..." by Van Halen (#55); "Right Now" by Van Halen (#55); "Big Talk" by Warrant (#93); "Blind Faith" by Warrant (#88); "Little Fighter" by While Lion (#52); "Summertime Girls" by Y&T (#55)

1.  "Smooth Up In Ya" by BulletBoys (#71)
BulletBoys were popular for about a minute in the late '80s, thanks in large part to this sultry rocker that has about as much subtlety as a jackhammer fucking Mothra.  Lead singer Marq (yes, he spells his name "Marq") Torien delivers some gritty, wailing vocals, and it's a shame the song wasn't more popular.

2.  "Gypsy Road" by Cinderella (#51)
Cinderella is a very underrated band, in my opinion.  They had a ton of great songs, including five Top 40 hits.  "Gypsy Road" is one of their great songs that didn't crack the Top 40, off of their 1987 album Long Cold Winter, which should be the official soundtrack of last winter here in Chicago.

3.  "Women" by Def Leppard (#80)
"Women" -– which is the first track on Def Leppard's 1987 mega-album, Hysteria -- is the only one of the seven singles released off of the Hysteria album that didn't crack the Billboard Top 20.  It's a brooding homage to, well, women.

4.  "Nightrain" by Guns N' Roses (#96)
This is a catchy, rocking ode to a shitty cheap wine that the band wrote while walking down the street and sharing a bottle of said shitty cheap wine.  Of course, as an innocent adolescent, I thought the song was about a train that ran after dusk.  Regardless, I loved it then, and I love it now.

5.  "Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)" by Mötley Crüe (#78)
This is my favorite Mötley Crüe song.  I frankly can't believe it didn't crack the Top 40 because it's just so damn catchy.

6.  "I Want Action" by Poison (#50)
This is one of the first Poison songs I remember hearing, probably because it was one of their first singles and I listened to the radio a lot when I was a kid.  It's a solid song about going out at night and trying to get any kind of pussy you can.

7.  "I Want a Woman" by Ratt (#75)
I have always liked this song.  It's one of those songs that evokes memories of being a teenager in the '80s, which is weird, since I wasn't a teenager in the '80s.

8.  "No One Like You" by The Scorpions (#65)
The Scorpions are awesome, and this is one of my favorite songs by the band.  I was definitely surprised to see that this song didn't crack the Top 40, since it's one of the band's signature songs.

9.  "Youth Gone Wild" by Skid Row (#99)
Skid Row's first single apparently made more of an impression on kids like me than it did on the charts.  It was (and still is) a ballsy, powerful rocker that served as a great anthem for reckless youth.

10. "Hot For Teacher" by Van Halen (#56)
This is one that really surprised me.  I would have thought for sure that "Hot For Teacher" was a Top 40 song.  It's a classic.

11. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Warrant (#78)
Before the song "Cherry Pie" had been conceived, Warrant's second album was supposed to be titled Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Then record execs pushed the band to make a song for the radio, and the band came up with "Cherry Pie," which meant the name of the album changed to Cherry Pie and Warrant, for better or worse, was forced to deal with a megahit.  Late lead singer Jani Lane said that he wished he had never written "Cherry Pie," and perhaps that's because the original title track, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a pretty damn good song that got kind of got lost in the shuffle during "Cherry Pie" mania.

12. "Still of the Night" by Whitesnake (#79)

I've always thought this song was Whitesnake's impression of Led Zeppelin, and I mean that as a compliment.  The song kicks ass.
Top Ten Hair Band Songs That Charted Outside the Top 40 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "Juicy" by Notorious B.I.G.

This Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Notorious B.I.G.'s debut album, Ready to Die.  Admittedly, I was always a bigger fan of West Coast rap, although I have never been willing to die for that stance.  That said, Notorious B.I.G. seemed a little different (i.e., better) than many of the other East Coast rappers at the time, so I didn't disregard him as I might have done with, say, Onyx.

Produced by Puff Daddy, Ready to Die is now considered one of hip hops greatest albums, as evidenced by its place on various "best hip hop albums of all-time" lists, as well as many other "best of" lists, including best albums of the '90s and best albums of all-time.  The album turned Notorious B.I.G. from an ex-con former drug dealer into a superstar.

"Juicy" was the first single released off the album, and it topped out at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Like many of his songs, it's autobiographical and contains some dope rhymes, as the kids like to say.  On top of that, the song has landed on various "best of' lists, including #1 on VH1's 40 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of the '90s list.  And if you didn't know that, now you know that.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Oktoberfest Beers (2014 Edition)

Fall is fast approaching, which means it's time to switch from lighter beers and wheat beers to darker fall beers.  Of course, it also means that Oktoberfest will be here soon.  A few weeks ago, I saw my first displays of Oktoberfest beers at the grocery store, and I got a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

In 2011 and 2013, I enlightened you with my favorite Oktoberfest beers, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to do the same thing this year.  Since my post last year, I have been to Oktoberfest yet again and, on top of that, have drunk various other märzens or Oktoberfest beers.

As I indicated in the previous posts, the style of beer that is often labeled "Oktoberfest" or "Octoberfest" beer here in the U.S. is technically märzen, which was developed in Bavaria centuries ago, when beer could only be brewed between late September and late April. The beer was brewed in March (Märzen), and then opened up in the late summer and, later, for Oktoberfest. It is stronger than normal beer, as it must withstand not only the summer months, but also hundreds of thousands of drunken morons like me.  This is beer that is meant to be drunk from liter steins while listening to German oompa bands along with thousands of your closest friends.

Like last year, I will break everything down into a star rating system that I have used the two beer apps that I use, Brew Gene and Untappd (and yes, I use two beer rating apps).  Under each category, I will list the beers alphabetically and identify the ABV and location of their respective breweries.

3.5 stars
Altenmünster Oktoberfest (5.5%; Kempten, Germany)
Bell's Octoberfest (5.5%; Kalamazoo, MI)
Great Lakes Oktoberfest (6.5%; Cleveland, OH)
Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier (6.3%; Munich, Germany)
Sierra Nevada Octoberfest (5.4%; Chico, CA)
Spaten-Bräu Oktoberfest Ur Märzen (5.9%; Munich, Germany)
Wolters Fest-Bier (5.0%; Braunschweig, Germany)

4 stars
Augustinerbräu Oktoberfest Märzen (6.0%; Munich, Germany)
Boulevard Brewing Bob's '47 Oktoberfest (5.8%; Kansas City, MO)
Brooklyn Oktoberfest (5.5%; New York, NY)
Goose Island Oktoberfest (6.4%; Chicago, IL)
Gordon Biersch Märzen (5.7%; San Jose, CA)
Harpoon Octoberfest (5.3%; Boston, MA)
Left Hand Oktoberfest (6.6%; Longmont, CO)
Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest (5.1%; Chippewa Falls, WI)
New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest (6.25%; New Glarus, WI)
Paulaner München Märzen (5.8%; Munich, Germany)
Point Oktoberfest (5.15%; Stevens Point, WI)
Revolution Oktoberfest (5.7%; Chicago, IL)
Shiner Oktoberfest (5.8%; Shiner, TX)
Two Brothers Atom Smasher (7.7%; Warrenville, IL)
Upland Oktoberfest (6.7%; Bloomington, IN)
Victory Festbier (5.6%; Downington, PA)

4.5 stars
Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest (5.8%; Munich, Germany)
This is still the best, in my opinion.  It doesn't have that bitter, almost sour, aftertaste that many of the German märzens have.  It goes down smooth, and it's great for watching football on a fall day, or drinking until the point of blindness in a giant tent on a different fall day.
Magic Hat Ourtoberfest (South Burlington, VT)
I still think this is the best American Oktoberfest beer that I've had.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Magic Hat makes it anymore.  I haven't seen it in a few years, and it's not in the Magic Hat fall sampler pack I just bought, but I'm hoping the good people at Magic Hat will read this and bring it back next year.
Sam Adam's Octoberfest (5.3%; Boston, MA)
his is one of my favorite Sam Adams seasonal beers.  It's really easy to drink.  A great fall beer.
Sprecher Oktoberfest (5.75%; Glendale, WI)
I had this one a few weeks ago on draft at a Sprecher restaurant during a trip to Wisconsin, and it was pretty damn good.

As always, I am open to recommendations.

Monday, September 08, 2014

BAM!: Munich Day 1 (Wednesday)

Prior BAM! posts:

Well that was a hell of a halftime beer.  Now where was I?  Oh yes, Amsterdam.  We woke up Wednesday morning in Amsterdam feeling virile, or at least I did anyway.  Our flight to Munich was in the late morning, so we all headed to the airport via train.  Chandler left us to go to Switzerland for a wedding, as he's apt to do.  The remaining five of us –- Bonham, Daniel, Gregerson, Colleen, and I –- enjoyed the short flight to Munich on a European budget airline.

Ahh Munich.  It felt great to be back.  As with Oktoberfest trips past, we stayed at the Pension Siebel, which is close to Marienplatz (the city center), the Hofbräuhaus, and the Viktualienmarkt (the city's giant open-air market).  Walking to the hotel from the subway, we noticed that the Lotter Leben –- a popular late-night bar for us in 2007 and 2010 because it is only about a block from the hotel -– was no longer there.  It was a frightening development because we did not know where we would be able to go for a late night beer and also see a flamingly gay German server dance on top of the tables instead of bringing us beer.  But alas, as long as the Mall of America was still around, we would be fine.

Bonham, Daniel, and I shared a room.  Upon our arrival, we made sure to stretch because over the next four days, we knew we were going to put our bodies through the kind of gauntlet of beer and sausage that a non-Bavarian can only handle once every three years.
Once we were loose, we decided to walk around the city, since Colleen had never been to Munich.  And walk we did.  According to Daniel's fancy fitness bracelet, we walked over 27,000 steps that day, which is a little more than a half-marathon.

The first stop was the Englischer Garten, a public park in Munich larger than Central Park.  I had not been to the Englischer Garten since 2001.  On the prior two Oktoberfest trips in 2007 and 2010, everyone went to the Englischer Garten on the day we arrived, while I was stuck waiting back around the hotel for the remainder of our crew to arrive.  This time, that wasn't a problem, since there were only five of us and we all arrived on the same flight.

The Englischer Garten is not only gigantic and gorgeous, but it is also home to various rivers, creeks, and ponds.  Within the Englischer Garten, there are bier gartens, restaurants, and, a nude-optional part of the park that always catches you by surprise, unless, of course, you are used to turning a corner to see a group of 60-year-old naked German men standing in a circle playing hacky sack.

Our first stop in the Englischer Garten was at the giant Chinese pagoda that also doubles as a restaurant and bier garten, complete with a traditional German oompa band.
Knowing that we were coming, Hofbräu sent its horse-drawn cart of beer barrels, which made us feel quite welcome.
To celebrate, we grabbed our first liter of beer on this trip.  I enjoyed a liter of the Hofbräu weissbier, as I'm wont to do.
After downing our respective liters, we walked a little further down the path to another bier garten that sits right next to a big pond. 
Walking makes a man thirsty, so we each grabbed another liter of beer.  This bier garten had Paulaner dunkel on tap, which meant that I enjoyed my first liter of dunkel of the trip.  In the words of a blogger who likes a good pun, don't mind if I dunkel.  Things got intense, as Daniel realized he was surrounded by ducks and swans on the pond –- literally his worst nightmare.  We made sure he sat farthest from the water at the table, although not even that calmed him down.  His anxiety was palpable.
We chugged our beers because Daniel started to have a panic attack as the ducks inched closer and closer to shore.  Thankfully we got out of there before "those demon waterfowl killed us all," in Daniel's words.  We sprinted to the subway station, trying to keep up with Daniel.

Anytime I go to Munich, I make it a point to go to the Hofbräuhaus the first day I am in town.  It is easily one of my top five happiest places on Earth to be.  After our near-death experience at the Englischer Garten, we all needed to decompress.



Fearing the onset of sobriety, we ordered more liters of beer.  I went with the Hofbräu dunkel, as it is one of my favorite beers in the world, especially when it's fresh from the tap at its own haus. 
The beer and some dinner helped calm us down.  At the table next to us, a toddler, who appeared to be of gypsy blood, performed what appeared on the surface to be an adorable version of Naughty by Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray." 


When I realized she wasn't dancing innocently, but instead trying to steal my soul with her gypsy eyes, I suggested to the group that we avoid eye contact (lest we want to turn to stone), pay our bill, and leave, but that we do it just as we regularly would, so as not to raise suspicion.  We did just that and left the Hofbräuhaus with our souls intact. 

But we were still thirsty.  Thankfully, there are other places in Munich that serve beer, so we went to my second-favorite beer hall in Munich, the Augustiner –- the very same place where my friend Jer went on a highly memorable anti-Swiss rant in 2007, eventually resulting in him destroying his Swiss Army watch later that night.  
Upon our arrival, we went straight to the little outdoor area in the back, and I ordered the only thing that would help get that pint-sized gypsy out of my mind:  a liter of dunkel.  We were so excited to have once again escaped a sticky situation that we took a bierhalle selfie.
In the bathroom at the Augustiner, I finally figured what Jan-Michael Vincent has been up to for the last 28 years:  running a successful hand dryer company in Germany.
The Augustiner fortified our sense of resolve, so after our respective liters of beer there, we decided to head to the Mall of America –- an actual mall by day and a bar and dance club by night whose real name I have never known, but which served us well in both 2007 and 2010, and particularly in 2010, when Shane rubbed his hands in broken glass on the dance floor.  You can imagine our horror when we arrived at the Mall of America to see not flashing lights and drunk Germans, but instead an actual mall that was closed for the evening.  Was the Mall of America a figment of our imaginations?  Had it all been a dream in 2007 and 2010?  We were so confused, but just in case, we walked around both sides of the Mall of America, and our worst fears were confirmed:  if it had been a late night Bavarian discotheque, it wasn't anymore.

Dejected, we walked back towards Marienplatz to Tal, which is a pretty busy street with a lot of bars.  We found a bar there that was open late.  It had an "HB" on its sign and beer steins, but it wasn't Hofbräu and it wasn't related to the Hofbräuhaus.  I could spell it out for you, but that would involve me attempting to pronounce it in my mind, which I'm not willing to try to do.  Here's a picture of a stein in case you want to give it a whirl:
I wanted to set a personal record, so I ordered a liter of my fourth different kind of dunkel in one day, and I gotta be honest, I felt pretty good about it.  We sat at some tables on the sidewalk in front of the bar, when I got a text from my wife asking "Do you want to know what we're having?" with no context.  Assuming she was referring to what they were eating for dinner and that she was eating an Italian beef sandwich at my favorite restaurant in the suburbs, I responded "Paul's?"  I realized she was not referring to food (or hopefully wasn't) when she responded, "No, a boy."  So that's when I found out the fetus that would one day become Son was a boy, and I'll never forget where I was when I got the news, even if I have no idea how to pronounce the name of the bar.

Obviously, we were in a celebratory mood, so we kept drinking.  The sidewalk seating closed at some point, so we had to go inside.  It was then that I took a panoramic picture of the bar because it had a really cool white porcelain mounting that housed all of the taps.  Colleen happened to be sitting to my right when I took the picture.  Panoramic pictures can yield hilarious results, especially when the people in the shots move.  Colleen moved.

Somewhere, Eric Stoltz is crying.

Tomorrow:  affordable lederhosen, beer tents, a drunk Swiss man and his dominatrix, and the traditional riding of statuary lions.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "Dr. Feelgood" by Mötley Crüe

Two days ago marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Mötley Crüe's mega-album, Dr. Feelgood.  After the band had various issues with drugs and alcohol -- such as Nikki Sixx dying from a heroin overdose only to be revived and Vince Neil drunkenly driving his De Tomaso Pantera head-on into another car, killing his passenger (and Hanoi Rocks drummer), "Razzle" Dingley, and severely injuring the two people in the other car -- the band made a concerted effort to sober up while they were making the Dr. Feelgood album, and the results were pretty spectacular.  Produced by Bob Rock, Dr. Feelgood was Mötley Crüe's first (and only) album to reach #1 on the Billboard album charts, staying on the charts for 109 weeks.  It is also the band's highest-selling album ever, going 6x Platinum in the U.S.  On top of that, all five of the singles from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, including the band's first two Top 10 songs ("Dr. Feelgood" at #6 and "Without You" at #8) and two additional Top 40 songs ("Kickstart My Heart" at #27 and "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" at #19).

I played my Dr. Feelgood tape a lot.  This was about the time I got my first walkman, and I distinctly remember bringing Dr. Feelgood on trips, so that I could not only listen to it in the airport, but also read the unfolded liner notes, so that all the tween chicks knew I was a total badass.  Amazingly, I had just as much sex in airport bathrooms at age 12 as I did in my four years of high school.

For the Retro Video of the Week, I chose the title track because it was the first single released off of the album, and it's just such a gritty song -- a tale of drug dealers and the underworld, brought to life by Bob Rock's bombastic production.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Back-to-School Songs

Today is the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools (and probably many other districts around the country), so I decided to have a school-themed music Tuesday Top Ten of songs that have "school" or "teacher" (or some variation) in the title or otherwise relate to school.

I am limiting it to songs that are focused on school or teachers, or that are set in schools.  I tried not to stretch it too much, since there are a lot of great songs that casually mention school, but school isn't really the focus of the song (Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" comes to mind).  I'm also not including songs about graduation.  Sorry, Vitamin C fans.  I am also specifically excluding Alice Cooper's "School's Out," since that is not really a back-to-school song.

So, here are my top ten back-to-school songs, with a playlist of all of them at the end (including honorable mention songs!):

Honorable mention (alphabetical by artist):  "School Love" by Anvil; "Grade 9" by Barenaked Ladies; "Girlschool" by Britny Fox; "Charlie Brown" by The Coasters; "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; "Hey Teacher" by Louis XIV; "School" by Nirvana; "Don't Stand So Close to Me" by The Police; "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley; "I Love College" by Asher Roth; "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" by The Yardbirds; "School Spirit" by Kanye West; "Principal's Office" by Young MC

10.  "Smokin' In the Boys Room" by Brownsville Station and/or Mötley Crüe
The whole song is about trying not to get caught smoking in a school bathroom.  It still amazes me that people used to smoke in school and get away with it (even when I was in high school).  I included both the original Brownsville Station version and the Mötley Crüe cover.

9.  "Teacher" by Jethro Tull
I've always thought this was a really underrated Jethro Tull song.

8.  "School Days" by Chuck Berry
This 1957 Chuck Berry classic was so good that Berry re-used the same music on his 1964 song "No Particular Place To Go."  Recorded at Chicago's fame Chess Records with Berry backed by blues legends Hubert Sumlin on guitar, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums, the song tells of a teenager basically doing everything he can to get through a school day, so that he can head straight to the juke joint after school, culminating with the anthemic line, "Hail, hail, rock and roll / Deliver me from the days of old."

7.  "Be True to Your School" by The Beach Boys
Ahh, the innocence of the early '60s, when your only concern is telling "some loud bragger" that your high school is better than his.  Interesting tidbit:  the song uses the same melody as Wisconsin's fight song, "On Wisconsin," which was also the same melody used in the school fight song for Hawthorne High School, where the Wilson brothers and Al Jardine went to school.  There are actually two versions of this song that the Beach Boys recorded, one with the cheerleading chants and one without, so I included both versions.

6.  "We're Going to Be Friends" by The White Stripes
Proving that he is a master songwriter, Jack White included this acoustic ballad on the same album as songs like "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" and "Fell in Love With a Girl."  The song is sung from the perspective of a young boy who has just begun school and wants to be friends with a girl named Suzy Lee.  The innocence of the song has always struck me, and I think the song works so well because everyone can relate to those early years of elementary school when you're starting to make friends and you're kind of nervous and excited at the beginning of each school year.

5.  "Rock 'n' Roll High School" by The Ramones
At my house, for reasons that are unknown to me, I often use the lead-in to this song to describe:  (1) "rock and roll breakfast" –- basically when I make breakfast for the kids and Jester is still sleeping, so we listen to rock and roll during breakfast; (2) "rock and roll dinner" –- the same concept as "rock and roll breakfast," except it's dinner instead of breakfast, and Jester isn't necessarily sleeping; and (3) my "rock and roll staircase" –- the walls along a flight of stairs in my house on which I have various rock and roll memorabilia and framed albums.  So, instead of just calling them "rock and roll [breakfast, dinner, staircase]," when talking to my kids, I often call them "rock rock rock rock rock and roll [breakfast, dinner, staircase]" like the intro and chorus in this song.  I apologize that you just wasted 20 seconds of your life reading this paragraph.

4.  "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" by Pink Floyd
Between "we don't need no education" and "hey, teacher, leave them kids alone," this has long been an anthem for students.  Personally, I have always loved the spoken-word line, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!" not only because it seems to be in a Scottish accent, but also because of the incredulity with which the guy says it.

3.  "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke
This song is all about the school subjects the narrator doesn't know much about.  He does know that one and one is two, which is amazing, considering his admitted lack of knowledge of history, biology, science, French, geometry, trigonometry, algebra, and the uses of a slide rule.

2.  "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam
This was the first Pearl Jam song I ever remember hearing, when I saw the video on MTV in the wee hours of the morning during a sleepover at a friend's house.  His name?  Jeremy.  Anyway, the song is about a kid who kills himself in front of all of his classmates at the front of the classroom, based on real events.  Eddie Vedder has said that the purpose of the song is to show that killing yourself doesn't change anything in the world, and the "best revenge is to live on and prove yourself."  Agreed.

1.  "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen
There is no better song about school or teachers than "Hot for Teacher."
Top Back to School Songs by GMYH on Grooveshark