Readers recommend playlist: your songs about education

A top of the class playlist from your suggestions featuring Pearl Jam, the Specials, George Michael and a classic Ramones trip to rock’n’roll high school

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

After 30 years living in Madrid and a quarter of a century married to my beautiful, flamenco-dancing Spanish wife, one of my favourite regular conversations goes like this: “Andrew, where did you learn Spanish?” “I’m still learning.”

Listen to the playlist on YouTube.

And that’s something we learned this week. You never stop learning and, if you’re lucky, you learn what you need to learn – if you’re not, you end up Learning the Game the hard way, as Buddy Holly says in our opener:

When she says that you’re the only one she’ll ever love
Then you find that you are not the one she’s thinking of
Feeling so sad and you’re all alone and blue
That’s when you’re learning the game.

Next up are the Ramones, who really don’t care for all this learning stuff – and far less for the teachers on Rock‘n’Roll High School. It’s all about kicks, chicks and fun. At least it is while it lasts.

Pearl Jam are far more reflective when questioning the value or, perhaps more, the consequences of Education. The final line referencing the seed that grows without knowing why leads us to James Brown and his warning to that seed in Don’t be a Drop Out: “Without an education / You might as well be dead.”

Esperanza Spalding’s Black Gold expands on the theme offering a curriculum which reader untergunther says is a “Grade A bid to encourage young black children to educate themselves in pre-colonial African history with a view to drawing strength and pride from their ancestors.”

And gaining knowledge to shut out ignorance continues, with Dream Warriors and Gang Starr claiming to have lost their ignorance, as reader nilpferd so neatly states in nominating this: “The eloquence of the title and the rap undermines people’s prejudices that rap was some kind of primal and dangerous street music, the nicely poised wit of the lyrics exploring the idea of musical self-education.”

Formal education doesn’t work for all, as Ian Dury and the Blockheads are keen to point out in Jack Shit George (“What did you learn at school today? / Jack shit”). And students can be a pretty unbearable bunch at times. The early 80s university types certainly got under the Specials’ skins in Rat Race:

You plan your conversation to impress the college bar
Just talking about your Mother and Daddy’s Jaguar
Wear your political T-shirt and sacred college scarf
Discussing the worlds situation but just for a laugh.

I remember that being a favourite on the juke box in the university bar I worked and drank in – we all sang along merrily and without a hint of irony. Student Wankers, the lot of us, as I reckon Peter and the Test Tube Babies would have said.

But what about the teachers? Well, as George Michael says in One More Try, not everything they want to teach us is necessarily for our own good. That isn’t going to stop Van Halen in their bid for a little extracurricular activity in Hot for the Teacher. In fact things are getting so hot round here it’s time to call the Move and get the Fire Brigade here pretty sharpish!

New theme: how to join in

The new theme will be announced at 8pm (GMT) on Thursday 7 December. You have until 11pm on Monday 11 December to submit nominations.

Here is a reminder of some of the guidelines for readers recommend:


Andrew Morrissey

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: your songs about the music industry
A reader picks songs where musicians reference aspects of their industry – both good and bad. Among them, Jill Scott, Fishbone and the Jesus and Mary Chain


02, Mar, 2017 @12:00 PM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about writing
The Beatles, Father John Misty, Prince and 10,000 Maniacs among the artists exploring the writing process with music

Sarah Chappell

26, Apr, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about purple
This week, reader saneshane creates a playlist from your suggestions – including songs by Jimi Hendrix, MIA and Marc Almond

Stephen Males

09, Mar, 2017 @12:00 PM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about fads and crazes
Short-lived dances and fashion gimmicks run through your suggestions this week – James Brown, Roxy Music and Sonic Youth all making an appearance

Guardian music

06, Jul, 2017 @11:00 AM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: your songs about repression
This week’s reader-curated playlist on the theme includes songs that take us back a couple of decades from Sonic Youth, Beautiful South and the Cure

Samantha Birchard

27, Jul, 2017 @11:29 AM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about chaos
Chaos and confusion reign this week, with Bob Dylan, the Temptations, Devo and Philip Glass all making this week’s reader-curated playlist

George Boyland

13, Jul, 2017 @11:00 AM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about slowing down
Mos Def, Shelby Lynne and Jethro Tull are among the artists on this week’s reader-curated playlist asking us to take things easy

Scott Blair

16, Nov, 2017 @12:00 PM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about being trapped
Nina Simone, Warren Zevon and Corb Lund are among the artists stuck in various states of mire in this week’s reader-curated playlist

Scott Blair

20, Jul, 2017 @11:00 AM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about being lost
A reader finds a way through your suggestions, meeting Chet Baker, the Clash and Eric Clapton along the way

Samantha Birchard

28, Jun, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
Readers recommend playlist: songs about Commonwealth countries
A reader discovers geographical references in your suggestions from around the world – featuring Ian Dury, Kirsty MacColl, the Super Eagles and Traffic

Chaz Cozens

19, Apr, 2018 @11:00 AM