Back To School Mixtape ’22

Ring, ring goes the bell… You know how it goes– or maybe you’ve forgotten? Refresh your memory and remember, you were young and it was your first day once too!

1. “Rock n’ Roll High School”, The Ramones

Aside from being an absolutely essential film for any demented teenager or mouse (er… and middle-aged music commentators?) 1979’s Rock n’ Roll High School also provided the vehicle for this Riff Randell-approved gem of o’ single from the punk princes o’ Queens.

2. “Straight A’s In Love”, Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash was long gone to Columbia Records when Sun impresario Sam Phillips dropped this ‘un in 1958. Typical of Cash’s (and Sun’s) sound if not necessarily his finest work, I’ve somehow always loved this one.

3.”Bust A Move”, Young MC

Stone Cold Rhymin’ was a Walkman staple (old school flat, foam-covered headphones, bruddah) as middle school and the ’80s faded out, and the video is a pop culture anthropological treasure. Another highlight from SCR is one of my all-time favorite lines from the album’s opener, “I’m comin’ off / just like the clothes on a hooker / and I can fly like Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka!”

4. “Story Of My Life”, Social Distortion

All the high school post-graduation, 20-something nostalgic angst you need in three chords. Stay in school kids– and listen to Social D.

5. “American Music”, Violent Femmes

I’ve always said that I’d never, ever (ever, ever) want to go back to high school… But for the best memories, all I need to do is put on Why Do Birds Sing? The Femmes were my Beatles.

6. “Harper Valley PTA”, Jeannie C. Reilly

Riley earned a #1 spot on top of both the country and pop charts with this 1968 Tom T. Hall penned zinger about a mother dropping the mic on a bunch of hypocrites and small-town Karens. I like to think of it as the yin to Paycheck’s “Take This Job And Shove It” yang– which, incidentally, it predates by a decade.

7. “Teacher Teacher”, Rockpile

The crush of crushes gets the superb pop treatment from the legendary Rockpile. The un-band of Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner, and Terry Williams only made one official album under the banner of Rockpile, but boy, it’s a must & a treat.

8. “Charlie Brown”, The Coasters

Serious question: If you had to go back, I mean had to– like Peggy Sue and you woke up in 1960 (Google it)– would you want to end up in a John Hughes film or a Coasters song?

9. “No. 29”, Steve Earle & The Dukes

Steve’s ’87 follow-up to Guitar Town tends to get overlooked, and this lament to the supposed “best” years of your life is one of his most underrated. Of course, I call foul on that notion but leave it to the Hardcore Troubadour to make you sympathize with the knuckle dragger that used to kick the shit outta ya.

10. “Dizz Knee Land”, Dada

Back o’ the (marching) band bus sing-a-long goodness. You’re obligated to go to school, not enjoy it– and Dada’s Puzzle album from ’92 was full of cathartic rebellion.

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Thee Aaron Irons is a music commentator & radio personality for 100.9 The Creek where he hosts Americana Madness weekdays from 10am-3pm and Honky Tonk Hell, a Rockabilly/Rhythm & Blues retrospective that airs every Sunday evening at 1pm. He lives in Macon, Georgia with his wife and daughter.