‘Hot for teacher’ – Van Halen in concert in 1981. Photograph: MediaPunch/REX Shutterstock
Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.
After 30 years living in Madrid and a quarter of a century married to my beautiful, flamenco-dancing Spanish wife, one of my favourite regular conversations goes like this: “Andrew, where did you learn Spanish?” “I’m still learning.”
And that’s something we learned this week. You never stop learning and, if you’re lucky, you learn what you need to learn – if you’re not, you end up Learning the Game the hard way, as Buddy Holly says in our opener:
When she says that you’re the only one she’ll ever love
Then you find that you are not the one she’s thinking of
Feeling so sad and you’re all alone and blue
That’s when you’re learning the game.
Next up are the Ramones, who really don’t care for all this learning stuff – and far less for the teachers on Rock‘n’Roll High School. It’s all about kicks, chicks and fun. At least it is while it lasts.
Pearl Jam are far more reflective when questioning the value or, perhaps more, the consequences of Education. The final line referencing the seed that grows without knowing why leads us to James Brown and his warning to that seed in Don’t be a Drop Out: “Without an education / You might as well be dead.”
Esperanza Spalding’s Black Gold expands on the theme offering a curriculum which reader untergunther says is a “Grade A bid to encourage young black children to educate themselves in pre-colonial African history with a view to drawing strength and pride from their ancestors.”
And gaining knowledge to shut out ignorance continues, with Dream Warriors and Gang Starr claiming to have lost their ignorance, as reader nilpferd so neatly states in nominating this: “The eloquence of the title and the rap undermines people’s prejudices that rap was some kind of primal and dangerous street music, the nicely poised wit of the lyrics exploring the idea of musical self-education.”
Formal education doesn’t work for all, as Ian Dury and the Blockheads are keen to point out in Jack Shit George (“What did you learn at school today? / Jack shit”). And students can be a pretty unbearable bunch at times. The early 80s university types certainly got under the Specials’ skins in Rat Race:
You plan your conversation to impress the college bar
Just talking about your Mother and Daddy’s Jaguar
Wear your political T-shirt and sacred college scarf
Discussing the worlds situation but just for a laugh.
I remember that being a favourite on the juke box in the university bar I worked and drank in – we all sang along merrily and without a hint of irony. Student Wankers, the lot of us, as I reckon Peter and the Test Tube Babies would have said.
But what about the teachers? Well, as George Michael says in One More Try, not everything they want to teach us is necessarily for our own good. That isn’t going to stop Van Halen in their bid for a little extracurricular activity in Hot for the Teacher. In fact things are getting so hot round here it’s time to call the Move and get the Fire Brigade here pretty sharpish!
New theme: how to join in
The new theme will be announced at 8pm (GMT) on Thursday 7 December. You have until 11pm on Monday 11 December to submit nominations.
Here is a reminder of some of the guidelines for readers recommend:
- If you have a good idea for a theme, or you would like to volunteer to compile a playlist from readers’ suggestions and write a blog about it, please email [email protected]
- There is a wealth of data on RR, including the songs that are “zedded”, at the new look Marconium. It also tells you the meaning of “zedded”, “donds” and other strange words used by RR regulars.