11 Awesome or Not-So-Awesome Songs About Teachers
Ah, the teacher, defined by Merriam-Webster as “one who teaches; one whose occupation is to instruct.” PBS has a pretty cool historical teaching timeline entitled Only A Teacher. Urban Dictionary also has its own definition of a teacher that most certainly “takes the cake.” Ultimately, teachers have one of the most important professions, as well as one of the toughest. This awesome playlist pays ode to teachers – well – some of the songs do anyways!
Nick Jonas, “Teacher”
[Nick Jonas, 2014]
Nick Jonas became quite the sex symbol beginning in 2014. On “Teacher,” Nick Jonas has embraced being “one who teaches.” What grades does Nick Jonas instruct? Umm…Adults, specifically females like the one in this song whom he wishes to bed. “Why you wear that dress, and my heart can’t take it anymore? / Why you act like this, it’s like your momma never told you how to love / so let me teach ya.” Not ideal for the classroom…
Erykah Badu, “Master Teacher”
[New Amerykah, Part One (4th World War), 2008]
R&B singer/songwriter Erykah Badu has always been in her own world…that’s an understatement. Her oddly-titled 2008 album New New Amerykah, Part One (4th World War) is also odd in its content, but brilliantly so. The reaction upon hearing “Master Teacher” the first time should totally be “WTF.” The reaction upon hearing “Master Teacher” for a second, third, or fourth time is also “WTF.” It’s eccentric, jazzy, and very AmERYKAHn.
Van Halen, “Hot for Teacher”
Van Halen’s classic “Hot for Teacher” is one hearty helping of teacher lust at the hands of a young man. It happens. “I think of all the education that I missed,” David Lee Roth sings, “but then my homework was never quite like this / got it bad, got it bad, got it bad / I’m hot for teacher.” Hopefully, being the responsible, entrusted adults that they are, teachers avoid assigning the homework which Roth speaks of.
Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two”
[The Wall, 1979]
Okay, okay – this one is anti-teacher. Even so, can any teacher resist singing along with the famous lyrics, “we don’t need no education?” Absolutely NOT – that’s rhetorical! “We don’t need no education” is easily one of music’s most memorable lyrics EVER. Follow-up lyrics such as “We don’t need no thought control” and the summative “teachers, leave those kids alone” are also exceptional and timeless.
Elton John, “Teacher I Need You”
[Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, 1973]
Call Elton John’s “Teacher I Need You” teacher lust 2.0 following Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher.” Elton John characterizes his teacher as a “middle-aged dream” who serves as “an inspiration / for my graduation.” The true crush comes full throttle on the chorus: “Oh teacher I need you like a little child / you got something in you to drive a schoolboy wild / you give me an education in lovesick blues / help me bet straight come out and say / teacher I, teacher I, teacher I, teacher I need you.” Again, teachers, DON’T indulge.
Louis XIV, “Hey Teacher”
[The Best Little Secrets Are Kept, 2005]
The real Louis XIV was the longest reigning monarch in history. The Louis XIV referenced here are an alternative rock band, not exactly known for their subtlety. As much as it would be cool if the band’s ace-in-the hole “Finding Out True Love Is Blind” were the featured attraction here, it’s actually “Hey Teacher.” What does Louis XIV want? Pleasure of course. “Well I’m just a man and want you instead of the drugs that get me high…I’ll never talk out of turn in class again.”
Rufus Wainwright, “The Art Teacher”
[Want Two, 2004]
Rufus Wainwright exemplifies underappreciated, but brilliant singer/songwriter. “The Art Teacher” unsurprisingly is quite an interesting song. Wainwright sings from the perspective of a uniformed school girl with a massive crush on her art teacher. He sings, “He was not that much older than I was / he had taken our class to the Metropolitan Museum / he asked us what our favorite work of art was / but never could I tell it was him…” Wainwright does a fantastic job of keeping it classy.
Jethro Tull, “Teacher”
Sometimes, the teacher has more fun than the students – at least that’s the perception. On Jethro Tull’s ambitious “Teacher,” the student just “can’t seem to find what I was looking for.” The teacher urges his student to “explore the world” and “get out of his box.” The student takes his teacher along for the journey (likely in spirit), but struggles to find his way.
So what is the band getting at? Take your pick. (1) Teachers/Adults are more ‘advanced’ than students/children because they’ve already experienced similar situations. (2) In order to better oneself, one has to be willing to “leave the nest” and not settle for complacency. (3) Everyone’s light switch switches on at different times.
George Michael, “One More Try”
Like “Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two,” George Michael’s former no. 1 hit “One More Try” doesn’t feature teacher in its title. It doesn’t matter because “teacher” plays an important lyrical role. “Cause teacher / there are things that I don’t want to learn,” Michael sings on the refrain, continuing, “And the last one I had / made me cry.” The last teacher he had made him cry? It happens.
Things are clearer as he finishes singing the refrain: “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.” Basically, a relationship with a teacher in real life is far-fetched (even though it’s happened unfortunately), so George Michael doesn’t want a far-fetched, impossible relationship.
Morrissey, “The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils”
[Southpaw Grammar, 1995]
Morrissey wins the award for the most frightening song on the list. “The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils” is nothing short eerie and haunting. Clearly that’s the vibe the former Smiths frontman was going for. Lyrically, he matches the intensity with multiple knockout punches. He nails the imagery of the classroom when he sings, “So you stand by the board / full of fear and intention / and if you think that they’re listening / well, you’ve got to be joking.” True. Another knowledgeable insight comes as Morrissey sings, “Say the wrong word to our children / we’ll have you, oh yes, we’ll have.” Also true. Was Morrissey a teacher?
Paul Simon, “The Teacher”
[You’re The One, 2000]
Has Paul Simon ever written a bad song? No…at least it seems highly unlikely. There’s no better way to close this list without the talents of Paul Simon. “The Teacher” isn’t nearly as frightening as “The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils.” It’s poetic and radiant. “There once was a teacher of great renown,” Simon opens, continuing, “Whose words were like the tablets of stone / because it’s easier to learn than unlearn.”
That’s merely the beginning of the poetry. Arguably, Simon’s best lyric comes when he sings, “So the teacher divided in two / one half ate the forest and fields / the other half sucked all the moisture from the clouds / and we, we were amazed at the power of his appetite.” Sigh, deep stuff.