Hello my little children,
So I've heard that this week is the dreaded week when students find out whether or not they got the A-level grades they were after. Scarier than Halloween? Maybe.
Sure I think education is super-important, and hopefully the effort you put into your studies will wow the crowd and get you where you want to go. But now I think it's time to tell you a little story about my total complete lack of academic will power. It's this underlying lack of interest in all of the pencils, books, teachers, dirty looks... all of this led me to write a song called School's Out. Maybe you've heard it. It's the song that launched my band's career. It's EVERY school's anthem. So I think the message from the get-go is: Never lose hope, be lucky, have a plan, keep working, write a hit song, and a little blood and eye make-up never hurt anyone.
As I'm SURE you know, School's Out was released back in 1972 (That means it's the 40th anniversary of its release THIS month in case you skipped out on maths like me). You A-level guys were a long way off being born - but I still think this track stands the test of time, as do I (vampires live forever you know...) - and what I'VE learned along the way might help YOU make sense of the hopefully not disappointing results you've just gotten, and give you an idea of what to do now with whatever it is that you're stuck with.
Out of the 14 Top 40 songs we've had, School's Out was the only song I was ever sure of. I said "if this isn't a hit, I don't belong in this business". It had every element - it was released right when school was letting out, it was a summer song, it had that hook, it had the lyric and I would have been SHOCKED if that wasn't a hit. And it was Britain that made it a hit. Mary Whitehouse banning us was publicity we couldn't BUY - all we could do was send flowers! At first we were worried we couldn't come to England - but then we realised it was the best thing that ever happened to us and they couldn't print enough tickets. It was perfect!
At the time, School's Out was very subversive compared to what was on the radio. Everything was still pop-oriented, and here comes this subversive song about kids saying, "let's blow the school up, yayyyy!" Luckily, no-one took it seriously, but they got the point that every single kid in the world absolutely HATED school on the last day.
This is the craziest thing about me though. I wrote a song about 99% of the people that hated school. But essentially I was Ferris Bueller, and I basically ran the school. You have to picture what happened - we are freshmen and sophomores in high school. We have the number one band in Phoenix, Arizona where a thousand kids from the schools are coming to see us play at clubs on weekends. Also, three guys in the band are on the unbeatable track and cross-country team. We've got the jocks, we've got the rockers, the girls love us because we're in a band and we're also sports heroes and I'm going, "We OWN this school!" We had girlfriends doing our homework, and the teachers loved us because we made them laugh. So school was like a piece of cake for me. Not that I ever DID anything, I was just the class clown. When I wrote the song, I was like, "Jeez, this doesn't apply to me at all! I love high school, I'd spend the rest of my life here!"
But in all seriousness, right now, I know getting a job for young people is really tough. My son just graduated with honours at Arizona State University, and he is just barely getting into a job.
He's in a position which is way below what he is capable of doing, but I said you have to start somewhere. And for some people that means toilets! No, seriously though, start wherever you can and be the best you can be.
I think kids are starting to depend now on their cleverness rather than on their knowledge. I've always said from the very beginning, you should specialise. Don't be a general knowledge guy, be the BEST guy at one thing. For example, be in a position where you've done a vocational course, not necessarily a degree, where you can go to a company and be so good at graphic design, they can't live without you. Make yourself indispensable. Or you're the best chemist, maybe in just one area. If you're in the general work pool, you're gonna get lost - even if you've got a degree. You have to be THE guy/gal.
So, if you want to be a journalist, go on a journalism course and aim to be the most clever journalist. Be the one that your paper can't live without. Be the feature writer that is so huge that if they lose you, they lose a whole bunch of people. Or else totally forget a degree or a qualification and create your own company - or just create your own niche in life. Or be a bum. What do I know?
In all seriousness, I DO think that you are all going to be the most successful kids.
One final thought... Make some noise will ya? Someone I once knew used to say "The squeaky wheel gets the oil."
Good luck my kiddies!
Alice Cooper's Halloween Night of Fear III Tour hits the UK October 24-November 1. Tickets - http://www.livenation.co.uk. The album Welcome 2 My Nightmare is out now.
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