Here comes summer
School is out, oh happy day …
Well, school’s not so bad but summer’s better
It gives me more time to see my girl
Walks through the park ‘neath the shiny moon
When we kiss, she makes my flattop curl.
— Jerry Keller’s “Here Comes Summer,” a 1959 look at the weeks ahead
* * * *
Whether you’re a student or a teacher — or just know someone who is — you can probably relate to their need for a well-earned break. So, this week I’m paying tribute to them all for their year’s hard work.
I’m very proud that our younger daughter, Amy, a first-grade teacher, is wrapping up her fifth year in the classroom. I know how dedicated she and her colleagues are, and I want to wish the nation’s educators — and all their students — a relaxing, rejuvenating and safe summer break (although I know a lot of them will be busy then, too).
First, we’ll celebrate with some vacation songs and then offer a roundup of other numbers connected somehow to school, students or teaching.
In addition to Keller’s “Here Comes Summer,” check out:
• “Vacation,” Connie Francis’ 1962 catalogue of summer fun.
• Two from Gary U.S. Bonds: a list of more summer activities in his 1961 Top 10 hit “School Is Out,” followed quickly that fall by “School Is In.”
• “School’s Out.” Alice Cooper in 1972 adds one more take on summer free time.
Classic school days
• “School Day,” Chuck Berry’s Top 5 hit from 1957. Leave it to Bart and the rest of the family to update the classic with their version from “The Simpsons Sing the Blues.”
• “Charlie Brown,” the Coasters’ 1959 No. 2 tale of the perpetual class clown and troublemaker.
Here are two “student-performed” songs that aren’t really what they appear to be:
• “National City,” a variation on the 1906 march “National Emblem” by a group listed as the Joiner, Arkansas, Junior High School Band. Most, however, seem to believe that it was Ernie Freeman and a bunch of studio musicians.
• “Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In),” a top 10 1955 song by a group billed as Cowboy Church Sunday School, but it was really Stuart Hamblen and his family using a speeded-up recording to sound like kids.
And one song that actually features a real teacher and real students (though they did have to substitute an older singing class for her usual kindergarteners):
• “Mill Valley,” a 1970 recording in which Miss (Rita) Abrams & the Strawberry Point School Third Grade Class note what they love about their town.
• “Abigail Beecher,” Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon’s ode to the school’s hot history teacher.
• “Teacher’s Pet,” Doris Day’s recording of the title track to her 1958 movie with screen hunk Clark Gable. The song’s lines here contain one of my favorite song rhymes:
I want to take home a
And show Ma that you love me, too,
So I can be teacher’s pet
long after school is through.
• “Getting to Know You,” a teacher’s tribute to the best part of her profession, from “The King and I.”
• “Teach Me Tiger,” April Stevens’ 1959 over-the-top, non-classroom tutoring session.
And a few activities not always covered in the student handbook:
• “Swinging School,” Bobby Rydell’s ode to out-of-classroom socializing.
• “High School U.S.A.,” Tommy Facenda’s tribute to America’s high schools, including nearly 30 geographic-specific versions mentioning local schools, including a Twin Cities tribute (unfortunately I can’t find that version online).
• “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” Brownsville Station’s 1973 Top Five tribute to anti-authoritarianism.
• More trouble: detention time for Bobby Vee, who’s “Stayin’ In.”
• “Be True to Your School,” the Beach Boys’ call for local loyalty.
• “High School Confidential,” Jerrry Lee Lewis’ take on “the high school hop.”
• “Ding Dong,” the McGuire Sisters’ spirited explanation of after-school priorities.
• “Beauty School Dropout.” Frankie Avalon, as the film version’s Teen Angel, offers some always-practical advice: “Go back to high school.”
Why are most of the prom songs sad ones? Theories are welcome.
• “It’s Raining on Prom Night,” from “Grease.” Check out the No. 12 selection on the cast recording from the recent revival starring the Twin Cities’ Laura Osnes, winner of the TV reality series “Grease: You’re the One That I Want.”
• “Pink Chiffon,” another sad song, this one by Mitchell Torok.
• And yet another: Marty Robbins’ 1957 hit “A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation),” which reached No. 2.
• Pete Seeger offers a cynical view of school indoctrination in his version of “What Did You Learn in School Today?”
• “Harper Valley PTA.” Jeannie C. Riley explains some of the shortcomings of parental politics.
And the grand conclusion:
• “Graduation Day,” the Four Freshmen’s timeless reminiscence of simpler days.