Popular music is, by definition, an expression of popular culture. For this reason, pop music often reflects major holidays and events, including, at this time of year, songs about the end of vacation and going back to school or work.
The immense impact that this time of year has had on music could make up the contents of an entire book. The relationship people of all kinds have with institutions like corporations and schools has given rise to Cinderella-like love songs for day-time school dreamers, as well as to songs of revolt and revolution.
The best way to look at this is through the evolution of rock n’ roll and the Billboard charts. Rock n’ roll was born somewhere around 1951. It sprang up as a cross-cultural expression of the times. A cross-culturization, or fusion of blues work songs, western work songs and hills work songs, rock n’ roll was a natural and exuberant expression of America at that time. It was new, sincere and fresh. It had a strong force to it that could not be stopped. It is no surprise that the rockabilly and rock n’ roll movement was adopted by many kids at school. Fed up with the strict cultural attitudes in the 50s, these so-called “greasers” were looking for a different way, a more rebellious expression. Bill Haley’s song “Rock Around The Clock” was released in 1954 and was a moderate success charting at 23 in Billboard. A year later, it was featured in the film “Blackboard Jungle”, a 1955 film about a new English teacher at a violent, unruly inner-city school. The teacher is determined to do his job, despite resistance from both students and faculty. Following the movie’s release, the song topped charts all around the world, became number 1 on Billboard for eight weeks and stayed at number 2 on Billboard for a year.
Similarly, the punk movement was a reaction to establishment and started an explosion of new thought. It gave birth to the creative freedom in culturally revolutionary work like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, a band that most people don’t know was heavily influenced by the punk movement that was vibrant at the band’s inception. Anthemic tracks like “We Don’t Need No Education” were the voice of a generation that was not convinced that schooling was the path to their future. Pink Floyd’s work is counter culture. It is the essence of punk.
There are those that celebrate school and work. Dolly Parton’s classic song “Working 9-5” built a natural camaraderie around a shared experience as a member of the working class. And of course if you grew up in England in the 80’s there is the quintessential back to school song in Supertramp’s release of School found on a great progressive rock record called “Crime Of a Century”.
For my young readers, as you prepare for your first day of school, I leave you with this: one the greatest Crimes Of a Century, School.
Rishi Dev (Rishi Gerald) is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. He describes Kupid’s Play like this: “Kupid’s Play is the Sound of the I Am Revolution. As an international record label devoted to raising global consciousness we bring awakened artists to the commercial mainstream. Our vision extends beyond a traditional record label. We know impossibilities are not real and build non-traditional revenue models by embracing new technologies in the current economic landscape. We know music is everywhere. Kupid’s Play actively seeks out creative opportunities to get its artists’ music to their fans in new ways ensuring that the Sound of the I Am Revolution is heard.” With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.