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Help me find these lyrics
March 4, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Song lyrics filter: I'm looking for song lyrics that draw attention to the stupidity of following the predetermined life path that our parents or society tells us to go on.

I don't have much to go on here, but I feel like there is something like this in the Rolling Stones, Beatles, or Springsteen. But I don't really care where it comes from. I feel like I've heard some lyrics that make fun of just blindly going to college and get a job. Obviously this is a popular theme, but help this lost mefiter out.
posted by names are hard to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Godfathers - Birth School Work Death
posted by jbickers at 12:00 PM on March 4, 2007


Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:01 PM on March 4, 2007


Cat Stevens: Father and Son

Lyrics here.
posted by Neiltupper at 12:01 PM on March 4, 2007


George Thoroughgood - Get a haircut and get a real job
posted by jbickers at 12:02 PM on March 4, 2007


No Such Thing by John Mayer.
posted by suki at 12:02 PM on March 4, 2007


Little Boxes

And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf-course,
And drink their Martini dry,
And they all have pretty children,
And the children go to school.
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
And they all get put in boxes
And they all come out the same.
posted by grateful at 12:14 PM on March 4, 2007


Elliot Smith's - Wouldn't momma be proud. Is the only thing that I can think of to directly fit what you are looking for. Google pulled up the Cheetah Girls's song "Cinderella" which fits dead on.

But this is a very common theme if you expand it a bit. For instance Pink Floyd's Have a Cigar is pointing out the stupidity of the established record industry. A bunch of their stuff could work, "Mother" comes to mind.

On the other hand Punk music uses this a lot, Not necessarily diverging from their parents path so much as from society in general. The Ramones "I want to be sedated" comes to mind. And a lot of Green Day's newer stuff has that tone even if it doesn't use the exact words.
posted by magikker at 12:18 PM on March 4, 2007


Quite a few Dead Kennedys songs cover this (and punk rock songs in general -- real punk, though, not radio pop branded punk).
posted by AV at 12:21 PM on March 4, 2007


Two songs about realizing all that a bit late:
The Logical Song, by Supertramp
Once In A Lifetime, by the Talking Heads
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:21 PM on March 4, 2007


"Making Plans for Nigel" by XTC.
Also, by the same band, "Battery Brides," though that's less about jobs and more about young women on the marriage conveyor belt.
posted by ROTFL at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2007


"Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head", by They Might Be Giants
posted by contraption at 12:30 PM on March 4, 2007


AV, Pop Punk radio stuff uses this theme a lot, a whole lot, a whole whole lot. This is why people hate pop punk, because it is rich kids from the suburbs rebelling against being from the suburbs. They use this theme to make them punk, to give them some street cred if you will.

Don't believe me? I thought of the first pop punk band I could, Googled their lyrics and clicked a song at random. This is what I got.

Ill never take part in the grown population
Or waste my time with further education (hooha!)
To get what we know, is just a big show
Where they want to control
So chained and frustrated
Its all so complicated
Fashion, no passion surrounds me

This is Sum 41's Thanks for nothing.

Disclaimer, I don't listen to Sum 41, this was just a random sampling, and I could b wrong.
posted by magikker at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2007


The Obscenity Prayer, by Rodney Crowell has some relevant bits. It's a bit of a shotgun blast, though, as it's one of those "List" songs.
posted by Crosius at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2007


Safe as Houses by Stiff Little Fingers.

(At the Edge, also by SLF, deals with the same theme, although not quite so explicitly.)

What about Minor Threat by Minor Threat?

Career Opportunities by the Clash.

There's got to be a ton more. It makes me kind of yearn for songs about the joys of buying a house and earning a steady paycheck. It'd at least be a little more original.
posted by craichead at 12:39 PM on March 4, 2007


I've been putting together a "Damn the Man" type mix list, a few from my possibilities file may fit your bill:

Ben Folds (Five) - Army, Fred Jones Pt 2, The Ascent of Stan
Ani DiFranco - Million You Never Made, Out of Range
Tegan and Sara - More for Me
posted by nelleish at 12:41 PM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


"teach your children" by crosby, stills, nash and young
posted by lgyre at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2007


Two Princes - Spin Doctors
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:02 PM on March 4, 2007


The Jam had several songs in this vein, the most overt one being "Mr. Clean":

Daylights dawns, you wake up and yawn, Mr. Clean
A piece of toast from the one you love most - and you leave
You get the bus in the 8 o'clock rush,
And catch the train in the morning rain
Mr. Clean

If you see me in the street, look away
Cause I don't ever want to catch you looking at me, Mr. Clean
Cause I hate you and your wife
And if I get the chance I'll fuck up your life
Mr. Clean
Is that seen?

Surround yourself with dreams, of pretty young girls,
And anyone you want, but --
Please don't forget me or any of my kind
'Cause I'll make you think again
When I stick your face in the grind --

Getting pissed at the annual office 'do
Smart blue suit, and you went to Cambridge too
You miss Page 3, but the Times is right for you
And mum and dad are very proud of you
Mr. Clean...

posted by scody at 1:09 PM on March 4, 2007


I can't tell from your question: are you looking for a particular song from the Stones or Beatles? Or are you just looking for generalized songs about teen angsty, anti-establishment, stay a kid forever kind of stuff? I like Todd Snider's I Spoke as Child as a song about regretting growing up.
posted by dios at 1:31 PM on March 4, 2007


Virtually any song by the Descendents fits this bill, as well as several songs by Husker Du, but as others have pointed out, punk rock was mostly created on this principle.

Then, there's that old AM radio favorite from Harry Chapin that covers the alienation of it all from the standpoint of looking at it from two generations:

A child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad.
You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let's play.
Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today,
I got a lot to do." He said, "That's ok."
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed,
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile,
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you."
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."
posted by psmealey at 2:01 PM on March 4, 2007


There are a couple of Less than Jake songs that might fit the bill, such as:

"National Anthem"

...
Ever get that funny feeling that your future's not gonna be bought cheap
And that "For Sale" sign that's hanging on your neck might as well spell defeat
And it's already starting to mix with one of my best pieces of fiction

And it's called "I'll be getting by" and "I'll make ends meet"
Does that forty-hour week have you bent at the knees
and you can't even see that everything's kept just out of reach

My American Dream is to have it a little bit better than my parents ever had it
My American Dream is to have it a little bit better than it's just a force of habit

posted by Nedroid at 2:27 PM on March 4, 2007


Operation Ivy - Healthy Body

Dead Kennedys - Straight As

Dead Kennedys - Life Sentence

Dead Kenneyds - Well Paid Scientist

Dead Kennedys - Terminal Preppie

Bad Religion - American Dream

Pretty much any punk band, pop-punk or otherwise, is going to have a song or two on this theme. It's pretty much the raison d'être of punk rock is it not?
posted by zen_spider at 2:29 PM on March 4, 2007


'Working Class Hero' by John Lennon
posted by TheOtherGuy at 3:06 PM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Billy Joel - I'm Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
posted by numinous at 3:21 PM on March 4, 2007


Scody actually touched Paul Weller's actual body, so I'd ordinarily defer to her on all things Paul, but in my humble opinion "Going Underground" is an even more overt rejection of a conventional life. Anyway I always think of it as the song that um, inspired me to fight the power by dropping out of high school.

We talk and talk until my head explodes
I turn on the news and my body froze
The braying sheep on my tv screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!
I'm going underground...


Then you have...
Money Machine by Aggression

So you can . . .
Go to school, study real hard, get your college degree
It's the American Dream, set up for you and me
To keep you from being free
Work from 9 to 5 sometimes overtime, just to pay your bills
The American Dream set up for you and me
By the jerks on Capitol Hill

posted by Methylviolet at 4:10 PM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Geoff Byrd's Plasti-queens might fit. It's about how all the girls are getting plastic surgery because they need to feel pretty enough compared to all the other society girls.

(Sorry, no lyrics link- couldn't find them. But if you go to Amazon and search his Shrinking Violets album, I think you can still download it.)
posted by Glitter Ninja at 4:32 PM on March 4, 2007


Morrissey - "Alma Matters." No specific education references outside of the title, but:

So, the choice I have made
May seem strange to you
But, who asked you anyway?
It's my life to wreck my own way


Def. one of my top 10 Moz songs.
posted by logovisual at 5:04 PM on March 4, 2007


Painting By Numbers
James McMurtry


The gates of the schoolyard
Are padlocked and chained
To keep all the children in out of the rain
The art teacher's preaching
The virtues of pastel shades
You pay no attention but it won't hurt your grades

'cause you're painting by numbers
connecting the dots
they don't have to tell you
you don't call the shots

You jump when they say jump
And you don't ask how high
'cause painting by numbers they know you'll get by
painting by numbers they know you'll get by

You take a position
In the old man's firm
He signs all the papers
You agree to the terms
They let you run errands
And you don't get days off
You take out the garbage and hope it pays off

'cause you're painting by numbers
connecting the dots
you work from the neck down

you might be in grad school
up at MIT
you might be down in the canal zone
being all that you can be
you might get to thinking you're ahead of the game
but when you break it all down
it all comes out the same

You're painting by numbers
connecting the dots
you work from the neck down as often as not
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:50 PM on March 4, 2007


You want Springsteen? Check out "Independence Day" or "The River," both of which center on the theme in question, though in neither does the protagonist achieve clarity about the matter.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:13 PM on March 4, 2007


Also, James McMurtry's "Painting By Numbers" --

The chorus:
Cause your painting by numbers
connecting the dots
they don't have to tell you
you don't call the shots

You jump when they say jump
And you don't ask how high
'cause painting by numbers they know you'll get by

And verses like:
You take a position
In the old man's firm
He signs all the papers
You agree to the terms
They let you run errands
And you don't get days off
You take out the garbage and hope it pays off

[there's more]
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:16 PM on March 4, 2007


Mama Couldn't Be Persuaded

Gambler ambled down a country lane
Looking for a game of chance
She was twenty-one or two
And she knew what she wanted
And she wanted that gamblin' man

Her parents warned her
Tried to reason with her
She was determined that she wanted Bill
They'd all be offended at the mention still
If they heard this song, which I doubt they will
posted by Meatbomb at 8:07 PM on March 4, 2007


The Monkees - Pleasant Valley Sunday

The Kinks touched on this a lot. Check out "Brainwashed" and "Shangri-La."

On the other hand, "Two Sisters" and "Situation Vacant" warn against the folly of not being happy with the humdrum life you've got.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:28 PM on March 4, 2007


Spanish Pipedream by John Prine and covered by many others.

Blow up your T.V.
Throw away your paper
Move to the country
Build you a home

Plant a little garden
Eat a lot of peaches
Try to find Jesus
On your own

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:04 PM on March 4, 2007


I won't speak as to the Stones, but I don't feel like the Beatles (while nonconformist) dwelt on nonconformity versus conformity too much. There's some I think have that feeling, of course:

Nowhere Man

He’s a real Nowhere Man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his Nowhere plans for nobody.
Doesn’t have a point of view,
Knows not where he’s going to,
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?


Good Morning Good Morning

Going to work don’t want to go feeling low down
Heading for home you start to roam then you’re in town
Everybody knows there’s nothing doing
Everything is closed it’s like a ruin
Everyone you see is half asleep.


Piggies (it's about "capitalist pigs", not cops)

Have you seen the little piggies in their starched white shirts?

Why Don't We Do It In The Road? (of course)

Got To Get You Into My Life (once you know the song is a love song to marijuana)

I was alone I took a ride I didn't know what I would find there
another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there


Of course you can read whatever you want into Beatles lyrics.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:17 PM on March 4, 2007


I second 'Making Plans for Nigel' by XTC, and also suggest the Kinks' 'Well Respected Man' and 'The Home Front' by Billy Bragg.
posted by andraste at 3:20 AM on March 5, 2007


Wind up -Jethro Tull
excerpt:
When I was young and they packed me off to school
and taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
or if they said that I was a fool.
So I left there in the morning
with their God tucked underneath my arm --
their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.
So I asked this God a question
and by way of firm reply,
He said -- I'm not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers --
I don't believe you:
posted by Gungho at 4:26 AM on March 5, 2007


The Nields, "This Town is Wrong," is perfect.
Also take a look at Arjuna Greist, "Bad Little Soldier"
posted by bassjump at 5:02 AM on March 5, 2007



Reliant K - College Kids

(the cultural expectation of attending college)
posted by fizzix at 2:43 PM on March 5, 2007


Billy Bragg - To Have and To Have Not

Up in the morning and out to school
Mother says there'll be no work next year
Qualifications once the Golden Rule
Are now just pieces of paper

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy...
Just because you're going forwards
Doesn't mean I'm going backwards

If you look the part you'll get the job
In last year's trousers and your old school shoes
The truth is son, it's a buyer's market
They can afford to pick and choose

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy...
Just because I dress like this
Doesn't mean I'm a communist

The factories are closing and the army's full
I don't know what I'm going to do
But I've come to see in the Land of the Free
There's only a future for the Chosen Few

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy
Just because you're going forwards
Doesn't mean I'm going backwards

At twenty one you're on top of the scrapheap
At sixteen you were top of the class
All they taught you at school
Was how to be a good worker
The system has failed you, don't fail yourself

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy
Just because you're going forwards
Doesn't mean I'm going backwards

posted by joe lisboa at 5:49 AM on March 6, 2007


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