Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ode to First-Year Teachers: A Two Cow Garage Triptych

I've wanted to be a teacher since I was ten years old. In New York City, Thursday will be the first day of classes. So I've essentially spent my entire adult life preparing for tomorrow. But no pressure. You'll be fine, they say.

Or "Middle school in the South Bronx?! I'll say a prayer for you!"

Both are, like, really encouraging.

Luckily, I've got Two Cow Garage on my side. What's compelling about Shane and Micah's music is the trajectory they've traveled throughout their career: from songs about working class suburban nostalgia to quarter-life crises. Their most recent album, Sweet Saint Me, ended on a defiant note that I think will continue to resound through their upcoming album.

These days, giving your kids the education they deserve -- not the ones the policymakers want -- is an act of resistance. So here is my gift to my fellow teachers -- particularly new ones. A song for each third of the school year with (what else?) a rationale. Your exit ticket is below.

"What Dying is For" -- If this isn't a pump-up song, I don't know what is. Celebrating the idealistic, fresh-faced lambs for slaughter, Micah is singing about his decision to pursue the rock'n'roll lifestyle.  But in my futile attempt to flip the system, I find common cause with Micah. If I'm not "shaken, broken, anxiety-addled" by December, then I'm probably not doing my job right. As we launch our first weeks of school, remember why you started on the path you're on.

"No Shame" -- Spotify lists this as the track from the album, but this is a live version. Although the song is thinking about quitting said rock'n'roll life (and therefore not too cheerful), lots of people seem to find the song empowering. I have yet to go to a Two Cow Garage show where this song isn't requested. That's because the fact that it's being sung proves that our humble narrator has not given up, and neither should we. So, once we hit those midyear doldrums, just remember that it's OK to mull the thought. But don't be a quitter.

"Brothers in Arms" -- Guys. We did it. And we'll continue to do it like sirs.

Before you leave, please list your three pump-up songs (whether you're a teacher not) in the comments below.

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