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Top 10 Oldies Songs About School

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Here's a list of the Top 10 best oldies songs about school and the classroom experience, in descending order. It's subjective, of course, but it covers the 50s, 60s (and early 70s) in search of what your Guide considers the classic high school Oldies hits. If you have any suggestions for this list, feel free and e-mail me!

1. "School Day," Chuck Berry

Sometimes listed as "School Days," this little slice of teenage life helped solidify Chuck's status for the ages as one of the great American songwriters. It mainly describes school as a drudgery, something to be gotten out of the way, but that's how teens of all ages have viewed it, and so the message here remains as classic and enduring as the lyrics.

2. "High School Confidential," Jerry Lee Lewis

This killer single from the Killer himself uses high school as a setting, not so much as a storyline. But who cares - this may be the world's greatest sock hop record, one that sounds more like a backwoods barrelhouse. Is it any wonder the parents complained? This would have been Jerry Lee's fourth consecutive hit in a row, if he hadn't looked to high school for his wife, too.

3. "Charlie Brown," The Coasters

Not to be confused with the Peanuts character, this delinquent refused to take to authority in any degree, making him a hero or a menace, depending on which side of the equation you were on. You didn't have to love Charlie to love the song - Leiber and Stoller were just as good as Chuck Berry at detailing the teenage experience. And the Coasters were, in a way, their house band.

4. "School's Out," Alice Cooper

Some purists will grumble that this isn't a REAL rock and roll oldie, coming as it did in the beginning of the second Nixon administration. Still, it's hard to imagine a greater celebration of juvenile delinquency, Alice's stock in trade. This being '72, it was a rather more sinister celebration, however - Ccoper declares that the school's been destroyed and no one's coming back. Yikes.

5. "Smokin' in the Boys Room," Brownsville Station

Cutting class and smoking are two facts of life for teenagers, like it or not, and the world's greatest boogie bar band knew that, which is how they got their one and only big US hit, complete with an iconic spoken-word intro that explains why even adolescents need to release some of that pressure from time to time. Working at the school bookstore? Who wouldn't get bored? And what exactly are they smoking?

6. "School Is Out," Gary U.S. Bonds

Gary would eventually do a sequel called "School Is In," but it wouldn't chart nearly as well. Which makes sense - who wants to party about going back to school? And Bonds' wonderfully strange, multitracked records, drowning in echo and catcalls, were some of the greatest party records of all time. Besides, as Gary proves, half the fun of school was dreaming about what you'd do when you got out.

7. "Graduation Day," Stark Whiteman and the Crowns

Certainly the rarest of the items on this list, this classic 45 isn't available on CD anywhere that your Guide is aware of. Recorded by an obscure New Orleans outfit, this sad Fifties ballad was a hit in the region but never made the charts. It's one of the best odes to the day in question, expressing a real, tangible sadness at the idea of leaving your friends behind forever.

8. "School Girl," The Five Royales

This song went largely unnoticed at the time of release, like a lot of the Royales' 45s. And like most of their output, this lost doo-wop classic deserved better. One of many rock songs to use the schoolgirl as an idealized picture of early womanhood. If you like this, there's a whole box set more of it where this came from.

9. "Be True To Your School," The Beach Boys

In such a conservative era as the early Sixties, it's odd that more school-spirit anthems didn't surface. And it's only appropriate that the best of the ones which did belonged to the Beach Boys, who always projected a clean-cut, scholastic image. The production hints that the lads were soon to be leaving surf music for more Spectorian pastures.

10. "High School U.S.A.," Tommy Facenda

Facenda was a one-hit wonder, but his one hit came with a truly ingenious marketing gimmick: record a quasi-rockabilly song about high schools, make one national version, and then make 28 (twenty-eight!) LOCAL versions for release in the country's biggest radio markets. The national version's hard to find, and the local ones are even more obscure. I've heard the one for my area; have you?

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