Sunday, April 20, 2014

Educated Fool

"She really schooled him!"

The idea of non-academic, especially romantic, life-lessons being equivalent to a formal education-- or such formal schooling being a metaphor for the informal sort-- is a long-standing one. (I'll italicize all of the education tropes used in the song).

Simon-- here, as Landis-- finds much metaphoric overlap. Here, our hero says he: "Took a course in misery/ Got an A on my exam/ And here I am."

The song's title, "educated fool," is an echo of the oxymoron "sophomore," literally a "wise fool." Smart, but not street-smart.

"I was green," he continues, using a standard image of un-ripeness. "The teacher was so mean," referring to the woman who schooled him. "I believed in all your lies, but now I'm wise." Meaning, now, he is a savvy as he is studious.

Next come two nice turns of phrase. "I learned my lesson very well/ You cheated from the start." Yes, these are cliches, but Simon gives them double meanings by calling them to mind in an academic setting. Then he offers this great rhyme: "Now I hold a/ Love diploma."

"Cheated" in the romantic sense means "was infidelitous" as is the idea of being "false or true"-- but they also refer to tests and quizzes. The whole song is really very clever like this. A longer version might have mentioned "multiple choice," "a textbook case," and even "detention."

He has learned his lesson, he says, but he still fails the test: "Guess I'll go on loving you/ Though I graduated school/ I'm still a fool/ An educated fool."

This could have been the theme song to the film An Education, about a young woman who skips school yet gets exactly that anyway.

My aunt's father was a local butcher, a successful and gentle man. Asked if he regretted not having had a formal education like the one he was able to afford his children, he smiled and said, "Every day is college, if you pay attention."

And, this song would argue, even if you don't.

Next Song: Tick Tock

No comments:

Post a Comment