Revolution through music
CAIRO - I called you but your phone was out of service. Was it? Or were you intentionally avoiding my calls? Talk to me… I can’t hear you. Raise your voice… OK. Maybe you are too busy to talk now because you are reading this article.
I knew it and that is why when I couldn’t contact you a couple of months ago, I mentioned – in print – that I will be writing an article about school and all that goes with it. Bad things like monstrous teachers, useless books, meaningless articles… forget about the last point – I shouldn’t have reminded you that meaningless articles is the only thing you get from me on weekly basis!
I still remember that each year on the first day of school, which was probably the only day everyone was there bright and early to take part in our annual “mild” demonstration. Many students got together, led by someone who grew up to be a singer/music critic and they all sang Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”.
Nothing would have been better than starting the academic year by saying “we don’t need no education, we don’t need no thoughts control, no dark sarcasm in the classroom, teacher leave them kids alone, hey teacher leave them kids alone, all in all you’re just another brick in the wall”. It said most of the things we wanted to say, but not everything of course!
This classic was taken from an album called “The Wall”, which was dedicated to exposing teachers, schools and the system of education in general. It would have been much worse if the album was written about what we had in our local schools back then!
Although I’m talking about the first day, we were only looking forward to the day we were going to say “School’s Out”, using the same words American rocker Alice Cooper did, “school’s out for the summer”.
I think he realized that was not good enough so he added “school’s out forever”. It got better when he said “school's been blown to pieces, no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks”.
That’s what I call MY KIND OF SONG… unless of course you still go to school and in that case I will deny everything written above and say “I was only kidding”!
On his hit “Hyperactive” British artist Thomas Dolby confessed “Must have took me for a fool when they chucked me out of school, cause the teacher knew I had the funk”. Don’t worry… it’s not like chickenpox or anything… Funk is a kind of music, which also makes it more contagious than diseases, microbes and viruses. Yup, music is as infectious as… whatever.
Well, if one wants to avoid germs, one should keep their distance from sick people. Maybe this is the reason why a song called “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” was released by British forces… I mean the band The Police. Ironically, the lead singer of that band used to be a TEACHER. However, this is one teacher I could never make any negative comments about. Mr Gordon Sumner quit his teaching job, changed his name to Sting and became a legend. I wish I could say the same about some of my old teachers. This song was actually written about a love affair between a teacher and a young student and apparently “this girl is half his age”.
What inspired Sting to write it? I guess maybe it was the novel “Lolita” by Russian-American Vladimir Nabokov, about a man who falls for a young girl. To prove my point, the final bars go like this “it's no use, he sees her, he starts to shake and cough, just like the old man in that book by Nabokov”. See? Was I right or was I right? I still insist that the chorus melody was the same one used five years later on the part Sting performed on Dire Straits anthem “Money for Nothing”, on which he sang “I want my MTV”.
As naughty as being involved with a student might sound, there is a brilliant song called “When I Kissed the Teacher” and surprise, surprise, it was written and performed by a clean cut act – the best Swedish band ever, Abba. This time the topic was handled from the point of view of a student, who fancied her teacher and kissed him in front of her school mates! Shame on that naughty girl… How could she do such a thing? Does anyone know which school did she go to and do they have vacancies there or not? WHAT? I always wanted to be a teacher!
“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” is of course a classic about schools, education and… it’s not? If schools are not involved why is Argentina crying? Anyway, Argentina is a country and not a school in the first place. Ignore that paragraph… I wanted to delete it but I’m too lazy to do so.
“The Voice” by legendary British band the Moody Blues involves schools. It includes the bars “Won’t you take me back to school? I need to learn the golden rule”. Well, I didn’t learn much at school so I beg to differ with that. Can you take me to the movies instead?
Another British legend, but in the pop music genre is George Michael, who kept calling his lover “teacher”. He did that many times on the chart topper “One More Try”. I’m so proud of him because he made it very clear that he was against learning from his teacher – he sang “and teacher there are things that I don’t want to learn, oh the last one I had made me cry, so I don’t want to learn to hold you, touch you, think that you’re mine, because it ain’t no joy for an uptown boy whose teacher has told him goodbye”.
I think with that note I should say goodbye as well. It’s time for me to go to bed and dream of my old school and I might be lucky and dream of tormenting all those bad teachers who were really mean to us when we where young.
I’ll leave you with the first song I started with – Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” and this time I chose bars that analyse the character of these monstrous teachers “When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children anyway they could, by pouring their derision upon anything we did, exposing every weakness however carefully hidden by the kids, but in the town it was well known that when they got home at night their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them within inches of their lives”.
That figures! I have to say that as well as having such teachers, I was also fortunate enough to have excellent ones who taught us a lot and I am still in touch with some of them. They are simply BRILLIANT.
By Amr Hussien