I started writing song lyrics around age 14, when given a typewriter. I long had fancied myself a lyricist, and you can be the judge by reviewing some of the verse. Songwriting was harder, but the first song came to me while walking home from high school (gasp) 40 years ago—perhaps a May day like this one, year of my graduation. I don’t recall the date. All my writings from the 1970s and 80s were left, and later lost, in Vermont circa 1989.

“Joe College” is simple, purposely repetitive, and peppy. I remember trying to hold the melody and words together in my head as I rushed back to my bedroom. The tune, as first inspired, changed because of short-term memory loss before being committed to permanent neural storage. Strangely—and I do mean strangely—the inspiration came from an animated Peanuts special, which in part featured Snoopy the dog as Joe Cool attending college. 

The lyric says much about me. I wrote the sardonic verse at age 17, purposely mocking my generation’s drug experimentation—and obsession. This isn’t the attitude of a Middle-aged man but his teenage other self. As an adult journalist and writer, I came to adopt similar sarcastic, question-status-quo-beliefs tone—deliberately peering into people and events from different vantage points, seeking to shatter common perceptions.

Joe College

Joe College, walking the street
Joe College, clean and neat
Joe College, Joe College, Joe College

Joe College, tally he stands
Joe College, oh what a man
Joe College, Joe College, Joe College

But he doesn’t have a mind of his own
Smoking his pot, oh he’s stoned, man
Where do you think he will go stand?
Joe College
Joe College

Joe College, goes after his chick
Joe College, he’s quite slick
Joe College, Joe College, Joe College

Joe College, sniffing the air
Joe College, snorts away his cares
Joe College, Joe College, Joe College

And you won’t find him stuck in the school
Learning to read, think he’s cool, man?
What is he going to do grand?
Joe College
Joe College

[Music Bridge]

Joe College, moves on the run
Joe College, he’s out of fun
Joe College, Joe College, Joe College

Joe College, nailed in a bar
Joe College, oh, oh, oh what a star
Joe College, Joe College, Joe College

And he broke a deal selling some pot
Smeared to the floor oh he’ll rot, man
Maybe he ain’t got no fans
Joe College
Joe College

And you won’t find him stuck in the school
Learning to read, think he’s cool, man?
What is he going to do grand?
Joe College
Joe College

But he doesn’t have a mind of his own
Smoking his pot, oh he’s stoned, man
Where do you think he will go stand?
Joe College
Joe College
Joe College
Joe College…

Repeats with mocking voiceover, like:

You’re my main man, Joey
What will you do for an encore?
You’re doing 5-to-10 in the pen
I got dibs on your dorm room

©1977 Joe Wilcox

Note: The lyric’s copyright is one of this blog’s exceptions: All Rights Reserved. Because the work as presented here is only partial. Melody is missing.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

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