Why Alice Cooper Band Wouldn’t Write ‘School’s Out’ Now
Alice Cooper Group drummer Neal Smith said the band wouldn’t write the classic song “School’s Out” today due to social changes that have rendered the line “School’s been blown to pieces” politically incorrect.
The 1972 song remains one of the band’s best-known hits, but Smith accepted that times have changed and that they wouldn’t consider recording a lyric like that if they were writing in the 21st century.
“I have thought about that a lot of times,” he told Sonic Perspectives in a new interview. “The lyrics ‘School’s been blown to pieces’ is obviously a time capsule of the early ‘70s. Nobody would ever say that now. … I’m sure some places would take certain lines out of the song before playing.”
He argued that, like many of the original Alice Cooper band’s records, the intention was “purely theatrical” and “nobody wants anyone to get hurt or explode anything.” “I would never write a song like that now," he explained. "I live a few miles from Newtown, Conn., where the tragedy at the elementary school happened. I would never say something that could be catastrophic to a school.”
Smith added that “School’s Out” achieved a status that left him “humbled." “I get emails from new and longtime fans who are school teachers, and they tell me they played that song at the end of the school year for their class," he said.
"Some have even been principals and played the song through the loudspeaker. God bless them, that’s so rocking and cool. … We were just writing it to put on the album. We didn’t know that 45 years later it would be played around the world. ... We used to threaten a lot of people back in the day. We were politically incorrect then, and I’m sure we would be now to some degree.”
Listen to Alice Cooper's ’School’s Out’
The drummer’s new album, Pop 85/95, consists of songs he wrote during those years, and he left them in the style of the times.
“Some things are politically incorrect, but it’s a time capsule,” he said, having earlier noted that the coronavirus has forced many more aspects of daily life into the past.
“You realize that many of the things we took for granted, like going grocery shopping or walking in the park, have changed," he added. "I think it’s going to change forever. It’s like we landed on a different planet. It’s a whole new world. I hope I’m wrong and suddenly something will make it go away like past viruses. With everything going on, we should truly appreciate our friends and family even more now.”