Songs you first heard in a subversive context

OK, I’m probably going to betray my lack of cultural knowledge here. But, I was finally catching up on the final season of mad men. No spoilers, please!

Over one of the last episodes, I heard “Everyday” by Buddy Holly.

Which I first heard on this movie.

I strongly doubt that Mr Holly intended it to illustrate the hell of everyday existence. But hey. I could be wrong.


This is a bit different, but I’ve had plenty of smart, funny, put-together songs dissected and flattened on first listen because some self-proclaimed music expert feels obliged not just to play it for me, but explain it to me as we’re listening. Which of course makes it impossible to listen to properly.

It’s taken a long time to be able to just enjoy some of them.


I don’t know if this is exactly subversive, but the first time I heard the Rolling Stones I was in 6th grade. It was art class. One of the popular kids had the album. I’m not sure how exactly it was that he was able to play the music so the whole class could hear - maybe the art room had a tape deck in it? That must have been it. I remember Get Off of My Cloud being one of the songs. The Wall was also hitting around that time. I remember how those albums seemed so different from anything on the radio, more grown up and sophisticated, rebellious and subversive because we were in this fancy pre-prep elementary school for the rich kids, and here was something that felt raw and not for children, not manufactured for the top 40 charts.


In Grade 11 or so our (new) principal banned year-end class parties, which until then had been a quiet tradition – just some food and pop and the teacher outlining what was on the exam quickly before the socialising started. They were only for afternoon classes.

Our religion teacher, an unreconstructed hippie, said he’d let us have one since his class was well off the main thoroughfares of the school.

The class organised it all ourselves in the week leading up to the last day of school, except we couldn’t agree on music. Finally the teacher said, “I’ll bring the music.”

He showed up with a reel-to-reel tape player, and an old bootleg tape of the Stones he’d recorded himself. I’d love to know how he smuggled all that gear in, but I guess security was lighter back then.

He kept saying, “19 year old Mick Jagger! Listen to that! 19 year old Mick Jagger!”

It was cool. I wonder how many people were introduced to the Rolling Stones in a school setting.