Breakfast In America
1979 | Rock
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"I said, watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, liberal, oh fanatical, criminal. -- Won't you sign up your name, we'd like to feel you're acceptable, respectable, oh presentable, a vegetable!"
- The song was released as the lead single for Breakfast in America and hit #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Hodgson won the Ivor Novello Award from The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for "The Logical Song."
- Paul McCartney named ‘The Logical Song’ his favourite of 1979.
- Written primarily by Roger Hodgson, the song is based on his experience of being sent to boarding school for a decade.
THE HOT TAKES
Think for a moment, with me. Imagine for a moment how much creativity and individualism has been crushed out of the spirits of kids attending public school. The weight of such a question is almost too much to bear. The story here is simple, but incredibly powerful. Children are forced into molds, and the parts that don't make into the system are often abandoned without any proper closure. "I know it sounds absurd, but please, tell me who I am." This line drives right to the heart of the matter, beautifully. Children are not taught how to think critically, how to chart a course for their life, how to cope with negative emotions. It shows. There is a fragmented wreckage left behind by the assembly-line model of public (read: government) education.
This song should be the unschooler/homeschooler anthem. We all know how playful and inventive kids are naturally, and without much frame of reference and experience they see the world as magical and full of wonder and possibilities. Unfortunately, much of that creative spirit is vanquished by the modern public school system. Although, the American public school system is generally not one that includes boarding school like the British ones that Supertramp was familiar with, it is still one where children are sent away to an institution for most of the day and taught that they must conform to “the system,” and that “the authority” is always right. Not only does compulsory schooling dominate the school day, with excessive homework and extracurricular activities, it sends its tentacles into family life as well. Not to mention the highly undermining questionnaires about family life and the tell on your parents if you see x, type practices that many schools have implemented.
As we begin to get older, many of us start to question what we were taught and are left wondering who we are because we have to reject much of what we were taught was right. I call this the process of dis-indoctrinating. It can be quite a difficult situation, but once you see the system for what it really is, it’s understandable because undermining the individual and promoting the collective it its very purpose.
There are many reasons the public school system is destructive to society that go far and above the fact that they are forcibly paid for. The damage done to children and families by the this system is extensive and more immense than I think most people realize. The memorize and test model is not one that leads to critical thinking skills, but then, that is exactly what the Prussian model was designed to do, make good workers and followers, not encourage critical thinking. If we want a more free society, with more libertarian sensibilities, we must stand against the State indoctrination machines called public schools.
There are few bands that I appreciate like Supertramp. The Breakfast in America album is a masterpiece as far as im concerned. I've performed plenty of it on stage in various cover bands over the years. Sadly in all the time I've appreciated it for it's exceptional and quirky musicality, I've rarely dove into the lyrical content. In this instance that seems almost criminal in retrospect. I could look at this song from the perspective of an odd man looking for validation of my weirdness. I'll be honest I'm not particularly interested in validation. So I think the real message is in how the education system as it exists can leave such a dark stain on someone that well into a successful career someone is still grappling with the existential malfeasance perpetuated in our school model that pervades all types and levels of schools. I'm typing this now with my daughter next to me who I hope will never see the inside of one of those institutions that sapped me of my desire to learn.