The first day of school is one of the rarest of all human experiences, one which exemplifies both exhilaration and banality all at once. The excitement comes from the unknown quantities represented by the start of year; a new teacher, perhaps new classmates, the prospect of new things to be learned and new expectations in the learning. In junior high, a new school year meant new teachers (plural...ooh, fancy), further advancement in education and anticipated outcomes and the added complication of getting to and from various classes in a timely fashion.
By high school, we got a taste of what college might be like, in terms of classes changing every semester and the prospect of having several first days of school throughout the year. And college offers up our first real taste of freedom, and a bitter taste it turns out to be when we have to manage our own time and schedules and learn the hard way that it's ill-advised to sign up for back-to-back classes that are in buildings on opposite sides of campus.
On the other end of the spectrum, the banality creeps in with the eventual revelation that almost nothing gets done on the first day of school. Once you get over the initial rush of fresh potential and the accompanying butterflies, the new school year smell burns off and the nine-month grind begins. Most teachers will assign little more than some light reading, and the first chapter in just about every textbook is as useless as a barber at Woodstock. The hopeless dicks within the teaching profession will prove their innate dickiness and assign actual homework on the first day of school, immediately softening the ground for your eventual entry into the workforce where you'll be confronted with a broad variety of attitudinal dicks, otherwise referred to as bosses.
The reality of right now is that the end of the previous school year and the beginning of the next one are unlike anything the overwhelming majority of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. Masks, social distancing and an OCD-level of handwashing and sanitizing have become the new normal. The first day of school comes front-loaded with the reality that, along with the finer points of algebra and the grammatical nuances of a foreign language, you could also be taking home a lethal virus. That beats all my first days of school combined.
So, to commemorate the strangest first day of school any elementary, junior high, senior high or college student could ever imagine, feel free to dive deep into this installment of The Quarantine Playlist, featuring references to all things educational, with a nod to the new technology being utilized in the pursuit of remote learning.
Alright, class, settle down, find your seats, then get back up and shake your groove thing. At an acceptable social distance, of course.
- “Teacher Teacher” - Rockpile
- “School” - Supertramp
- “School Days” - Chuck Berry
- “Status Back Baby” - The Mothers of Invention
- “Straight A's in Love”- The Williams Brothers
- “Teacher” - Jethro Tull
- “Art School Girl” - Stone Temple Pilots
- “Back to Schooldays” - Graham Parker & the Rumour
- “Academy Fight Song” - Mission of Burma
- “Teacher I Need You” - Elton John
- “Education” - The Kinks (The whole Schoolboys in Disgrace album, for that matter)
- “The Future's so Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” - Timbuk 3
- “Homework” - J. Geils Band
- “My Old School” - Steely Dan
- “We Rule the School” - Belle and Sebastian
- “The Freshmen” - The Verve Pipe
- “Staircase at the University” - Morrissey
- “Who's Zoomin' Who?” - Aretha Franklin
- “Schoolin' Life” - Beyonce
- “Going Away to College” - Blink-182
- “College Kids” - Relient K
- “(Remember the Days of) the Old Schoolyard” - Cat Stevens
- “I'm the Teacher” - Ian Hunter
- “Campus” - Vampire Weekend