Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuneful Tuesdays: School Days

School starts today here in Uppity College Town, and the college students are back as well. Possibly one of these days even Onkel Hankie Pants will be heading off to school, since he got on the substitute teacher list. Thoughts of songs about school have been running through my head, aided somewhat by YouTube.

I couldn't really find any good elementary school songs. The first one I thought of was "School days, school days, good old Golden Rule days, Readin' and writin' and 'rithmetic, Taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick...." (I must add that in the 5 elementary schools I attended I cannot recall witnessing any corporal punishment, even at the two in Texas.)

The second one that came to mind was John McCutcheon's "Kindergarten Wall," based on the essay by Robert Fulghum, "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." The only YouTube presentations were by actual kindergarteners -- cute, but not very good sound.

But as I was looking for pictures of the first two elementary schools I attended, in El Paso, Texas, (see above) I remembered this:

This was the first song I learned in school, in first grade at either Burnet School (on left above) or Coldwell School (on right above). I learned today that it's played at UT Longhorn football games and was also played at the end of Lady Bird Johnson's funeral -- if you look up that version I think you will see at least some of the presiding ministers making the Longhorn "Hook 'em Horns" sign. A bit strange.

So, songs that evoke high school. The classic Chuck Berry song comes to mind first:

Some things never change, unfortunately, or perhaps even for the worse; I think it's still true in most high schools that "You're fortunate if you have time to eat" with 20-minute lunch periods.

I truly, truly hated pep rallies in high school. One reason was that I was much more self-conscious then than now. But this is still a great song:

College songs, ah, college songs. Here's Tom Lehrer's generic and satirical college "alma mater:"

(Lehrer, of course, is a Harvard man, thus his slighting reference to the Whiffenpoof Song.)

A Host at Last University, being only my own age, may perhaps have an alma mater; it may even have a fight song, but when I was there it did not have a football team. Onkel Hankie Pants used to sing the kids to sleep with one of the two songs he remembers easily, the Carleton Fight Song (to the tune of Give My Regards to Broadway). However, no recordings available. So for the football fans among you, here's the song from the University that the most members of the Pants family have attended one way or another, the University of Minnesota. Two versions, one "real," and one that's even more truly Minnesotan.

And to close, the international student song, sung by some nice Norwegians; the first syllable is truncated but it is, of course, Gaudeamus Igitur. This was my favorite of all the many renditions.

Five years ago this week, I got to sing along to this at the opening exercises when Cordeliaknits began her studies at Smith College. Good times!

1 comment:

Onkel Hankie Pants said...

The Texas song, with the infamous University Tower in Austin displayed starkly throughout, is subtle, eery satire. Chilling.

On an entirely different note, The Beach Boys song made me think of a song with a similar theme that mentioned specific high schools in Minnesota. As a yoot I had the idea that the song was somehow a "franchise" piece - that is, different recordings were made of the same song, but with the school names altered so that the song would more likely be played on Top 40 stations in the various states. On the other hand, maybe it was just a number by a Twin Cities garage band, of which there were many in the early and mid sixties. Does anybody know the song I'm talking about?