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Textbook for the School of Rock-Introductory Preface January 29, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Education, Memory, narrative, Other, postmodernism, Rock.

The week before Christmas my son and I got “The School of Rock” from Netflix, and after I prescreened it I watched it with him.  We don’t play much rock music in the house, partially because I can only really do one thing at a time.  Playing loud rock music (’cause if it ain’t loud, what’s the point?) with a 9-year old in the house is actually two things, since he would have to play with the dog at the same time, or whistle along with it, or talk about it, or pace.  But he seems very interested in rock now that he has seen the movie.  So when I take him to school in the morning, about a ten-minute drive, he asks for another lesson, which I give him, a blasting CD and commentary afterward, a short quiz.  The school commute has become a rolling school of rock.

I guess my own musical education is pretty typical of most consumers of rock in my age group, in that I had four guitar lessons, which came free with my first guitar, an incredibly crappy Les Paul knock-off made by Memphis (all of the rigidity of an actual Gibson Les Paul, without any of the sustain, solid electronics, or prestige).  I was a pretty strange 18-year old, and instead of asking the lanky, long-fingered, long-haired guitar teacher to teach me some ACDC (where is the little lightning-bolt symbol on the keyboard, dammit?) I asked him to teach me some theory.   It never occurred to me that there was no rock theory, or that this guy might not know it.  At any rate, he taught me how to tune the thing, as well as three very different moveable jazz chord forms, barre chords, the blues scale, and a couple of other things, mostly by accident.  And then the lessons were over and I was on my own. 

Consequently, much of my knowledge of rock is stuff I have made up in my head, stuff I have interpreted incorrectly by watching rock videos on MTV, concert movies, going to actual concerts, listening to the radio, doing some reading.  What I like about rock, though, and its history, is that this is the way most people experience rock.  You go to a concert in a alcoholic daze, sit in a pot-fueled haze and you really can’t tell truth from apocrypha anyway.  So that’s what I’m giving him, myths that are better, more dramatic, than the ugly commercial reality of the actual business.  And I fit them together in a narrative, which reshapes and warps what little is left of its relationship to the truth.

We aren’t going in chronological order in these lessons.  It gets a little confusing, but that’s the postmodern world, pal.  “No,” I tell him, “the Brian Setzer Orchestra, a 1990s group, re-envisioned the music of the 30s and 40s; it was Setzer’s first group, the Stray Cats, a 1980s band, that re-envisioned the music of the 1950s.”  And we aren’t going thematically either.  So it may be confusing to put these lessons online.  But that’s what I will probably end up doing.  Check this space for lesson one soon.


1. anxiousmofo - January 29, 2007

I was driving with my daughter somewhere, and she requested music. So I just started up my iPod with whatever it happened to be on, which was the Melvins. I thought to myself that there was no way a three-year-old was going to like the Melvins. I was wrong! I looked in the mirror and there she was, rocking her head from side to side, more or less in time to “Boris”.

It was a beautiful moment, and more than made up for all the times I’ve listened to the musical stylings of the detestable kids music factory Wee Sing, and the times I will listen to them in the future.

2. caveblogem - January 29, 2007

anxiousmofo, My son’s current favorites are Oingo Boingo (particularly “Only a Lad,” and anything by Led Zeppelin. I don’t know what that means, but I’m glad it’s no longer Raffi.

3. Nannette in Fantasticland - January 29, 2007

Ah, Raffi ain’t so bad. Nothing like a good rousing rendition of “Banana Phone” to chase the blues away ;>) Arr Arr

4. silverneurotic - January 29, 2007

I’m looking forward to the other “lessons”, perhaps I have some info to share as well…sometimes I wonder if I’m a walking encylodepia of useless rock facts. I wish Rock n’ Roll Jeopardy was still on VH1, I would totally kick ass.

5. anxiousmofo - January 30, 2007

My daughter does not share my deep and abiding love for “Immigrant Song,” alas.

I have to admit that I kinda like Raffi’s “Baby Beluga.” I like it more when my daughter sings it than when Raffi does.

6. Kaitlyn - January 30, 2007

Around here its an affliction to have any of the kids’ music stuck in our adult brains, and we’ll often curse each other with the dread disease by singing the first few lines of a song, knowing it will be with the other for the rest of the day. Risky, since one could catch the song themselves.
My kids like the Beatles and a great Jazz for Kids CD (Ella Fitzgerald sings Old MacDonald..quite a twist on the original). But in the car, we take a break from Elmo for Billy Bragg, (mama singing along loudly), Miles Davis (Kind of Blue), Thelonious Monk and Lauryn Hill. They’re getting quite an earful.

7. caveblogem - January 30, 2007


No, Raffi ain’t so bad.

“Here’s to the world we love,
blue skies and ponies, and children at play,
Earth below, sky above, God bless it everyday.”

But he ain’t rock.

8. caveblogem - January 30, 2007


That’s the problem with kids today–they experience no real hardship and can’t appreciate the blues roots of stuff like that. Have you explained to your daughter that back when you were a kid they had vinyl albums that were easily scratched and really heavy, and that if somebody spilled beer on your favorite song you couldn’t just get another copy through I-Tunes but had to physically go to the store and purchase the whole album?

9. caveblogem - January 30, 2007


That little game has long been outlawed in our house. There was a song that came out during the 1990s [which must not be named; even the band’s name is verboten] that made me seriously consider a DIY lobotomy.

We never let our son watch Sesame Street, because of Elmo. I thought that listening to really loud music destroyed the cilia in your ears that respond to really high frequencies, but alas, I can still hear that annoying puppet.

10. anxiousmofo - February 1, 2007


I remember buying Metallica’s Master of Puppets on cassette, putting it into a friend’s car stereo two days later, only to hear the horrible sound of the tape being eaten. Even worse, the record store near my school didn’t have any copies when I went to get another one, and I had to wait a couple days. That is the kind of suffering that inspires, say, Albert King’s “Angel of Mercy”. And that is the kind of suffering my daughter will never understand, because when she gets scratches all over the CD and it doesn’t play anymore I just burn another one.

11. caveblogem - February 1, 2007


That is what we want, of course, for them to not know such hardship. I used to splice my own cassettes back together, unscrewing the case, unwinding the spool a little and pressing the crumpled parts flat, then a little scotch tape and, voila! Good as new, except that a little section would be missing. And then, eventually, I would come to expect that there would be a section missing. It would jar me a little to hear the song on the radio, whole.

12. Bruce Guyver - March 20, 2007

I had a great day myself yesterday, I spent 12 hours learning guitar, with the amp at full volume. My buddy let me play in his barn out back on his farm. Oh so much fun was had!

13. reviews on cheap car rim - January 10, 2014

Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better!
Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
He always kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this post to him.
Fairly certain he’s going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

14. Trina - January 22, 2014

“Textbook for the School of Rock-Introductory Preface | Pretty Good on
Paper” was in fact a wonderful blog. However, if it had even more pictures this would
be perhaps even much better. All the best -Celesta

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