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Alma Mater (School’s Out, 1972)

“Alma Mater” Lyrics:

Rain is falling down my cheek
Searching for the sea
Tomorrow, like the rain
I’ll be back home again

I watch the bus
As it pulls out of view
Someday like that bus
I will be leavin’ too

But you know
It breaks my heart
To leave you
Camelback
My high school

And now, alone
Cryin’ in my beer
‘Cause old friends said “Goodbye”
I guess I’ll be leavin too

But you know
It breaks my heart
To leave you
Cortez
I’ll miss you

Yes I will
Yes I will
You know I will

Yes I will
Yes I will
You know I will

Well so long (so long)
Everybody (everybody)
I hope that I would see you again (again)
Goodbye (goodbye)
Everybody (everybody)
I finally grew up
They finally let me out of school

Hey, remember the time – ‘member the time
We took that snake and we, we put it down little Betsy’s dress?
Now I don’t think Miss Axelrod was much impressed
Now I don’t think Miss Axelrod was much impressed
Well I don’t think Miss Axelrod was much impressed

Oh, goodbye (goodbye)
Everybody (everybody)
I hope that I would see you again (again)
So long (so long)
Everybody (everybody)
How do you like that
They finally let me out of school
Goodbye (goodbye)
Ah, I wanna get out of here (So long)
They let me out of school ( I finally got out of school)
How ’bout that, uh?
Goodbye
Hey, goodbye, guys
Maybe I’ll see –
Maybe I’ll see you around some time, uh?
‘Ey, don’t make a stranger of yourself, uh?
Remember the Coop, uh?
May –
I ho –
I hope – you don’t – forget me or nothin’
Goodbye

This week brings the 1972 LP, School’s Out, back into focus. An album dedicated to the antics, altercations, and gravitas surrounding the moments and lessons learned in high school, and the transitions that take place just before and after graduation. As the follow-up album to Killer, School’s Out reached No. 4 on the UK album charts, No. 2 on the US Billboard 200, and No. 1 on the Canadian RPM Top 100.

The album cover looks like a school desk and lifts open to reveal the record and what looks like the inside of a desk. The listener can’t help but remember their own school experiences when exploring the contents and the cover of the LP. The inside cover features a slingshot, crayons, comic strip, English folder, quiz (complete with song list and credits), among other trinkets. Like many Alice albums, this LP was an experience, not just a record.

The stage show did not change much due to time constraints between Killer and School’s Out. However, the setlist traded out some songs and moved others around. New songs from the album that were added to the show were “Public Animal #9,” “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets,” “Street Fight (which was played as a track loop over a PA system), and the notorious title track, “School’s Out.” During the show, Alice is stabbed in a street gang brawl then ultimately hung during the song “Killer.” School’s Out sent Alice Cooper over the top. Their determination and hard work on previous records and tours lifted them to a new level.

Alma Mater,” a song about graduation and the bittersweet tale of transition, is the second to last track on the record. What’s so unique about this LP is the experience. In some form or fashion, we’ve all encountered the elements found within the songs and lyrics. The emotions. The teachers. The friends. The tests. The fights. The relationships. The goodbyes. The end of school.

“Alma Mater” also voices the awkwardness of departure. The remembrance of something special along with the anticipation of what comes next. While Neal Smith wrote the song, it seems as if other members contributed some stories and characters as well, Miss Axelrod and the reference to the snake in “little Betsy’s dress” was an actual memory of Glenn Buxton, the band’s guitarist. And both Camelback High (Neal’s high school) and Cortez High (the rest of the band’s high school) are mentioned in the song as well.

Do you ever reflect back on your time in school? High school. College. The yesteryears of life. Do you still talk to friends from that era? How much of that period do you remember? Are they good memories or bad ones? As we start a new decade, there’s a pretty significant parallel between the events mentioned above and the beginning of 2020. A time for us to look back at the lessons learned, the people we met, the people we lost, and also a glimpse ahead to what’s next.

As life continues moving forward, there’s a narrative that’s unfolding in the process. The story of our lives is being written. If you take a look at the last five years, can you see a theme or underlying goal that has been placed in your path? Does it align with God’s Word? Are you still moving towards it, or has the momentum stalled?

It seems as if time and circumstance often lead us to take an inventory of our time here on Earth. Are we really who we say we are? Do we really put the most important things first? At the end of high school and during those awkward phases of early adulthood, there is a great deal of self-seeking that takes place. You can hear the awkwardness in Alice’s voice as he says:

“Hey, goodbye, guys
Maybe I’ll see –
Maybe I’ll see you around some time, uh?
‘Ey, don’t make a stranger of yourself, uh?
Remember the Coop, uh?
May –
I ho –
I hope – you don’t – forget me or nothin’
Goodbye”

The thought of starting over, new friends, leaving the old for the new, it’s a scary experience. Sometimes such things keep us from stepping out of that ‘comfort zone’ where we hide our thoughts, our emotions, and ourselves. Does the fear of rejection hold you back? Does it keep you from seeking His greatness?

Many questions are purposely being raised in this post. But the bottom line is this, are you satisfied? Are you content with where He’s placed you, and what He’s called you to be? Philippians 4:11-13 reads, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” How many of us can honestly say we’ve reached that same mindset?

At times, it feels like life is a pendulum. The peaks and valleys can get the best of us if we’re not careful. Whether we are graduating with a diploma or degree, dealing with illness or tragedy, starting a new career, or striving towards a new goal, the book of Psalms holds the key to many of life’s battles and struggles. Psalms is a beautifully written book of sonnets and poems that serve as an instruction manual for the trickier, more uncertain moments in this life. Psalms 34:8-14 reads:

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

In short, these verses call on us to seek and apply God’s Will for our lives. They give us simple instructions – “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” When presented with a task from Him (something you know in your heart that needs to be done, which aligns with His Word), do not fear the mission. Keep an open heart and mind, expect to know and witness His Greatness in the process.

In the first verse, it’s as if God is saying, “Try this; I know you’ll like it.” Take that first step. Be Faithful. Put your Trust in me, etc. God is offering us encouragement before He gives the directive. In the next few verses, we find the word “fear,” and many tend to decipher its meaning incorrectly.

It is often used to depict God as some sort of boogeyman – ready to strike you down when you make mistakes. But instead, the actual meaning of “fear” is “to show deep respect and honor.” The passage goes on to reveal that our fear of the Lord (AKA love and reverence for Him and His Word) is shown through our actions and obedience to Him.

So, what does that look like?

By being honest, turning from evil, doing good, and promoting peace, we show the rest of the world our love for God and His Word. It requires effort and hard work – it doesn’t come naturally.

Paul echoes this sentiment in Romans 12:18, which reads, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with EVERYONE.” In almost every part of our lives, we must be willing to give to receive. For instance, respect is given to those that respect others, love is given to those that show love, and so on. Peaceful living is found by being less argumentative and contentious. In short, work hard and live in peace.

Wrapping up this week’s discussion, transition and change often happen during this life. Some changes are evident, such as graduating from high school, yet other changes are less obvious and force us to transition rapidly and without notice. Go back and review some of those questions discussed earlier in this post.

As you think about the answers to them, think about how you have handled transition and change.  Ecclesiastes 3 addresses the cold, hard truths of this world. “There is a time for everything.” As those moments arise and those adjustments in life take place, we must learn to seek, respect, and honor Him and His Word. By obeying Him and striving for peace, we find refuge in something FAR GREATER than anything we could ever imagine. We find strength in Him and His Word. Something that gives us hope in a world full of ugliness and malice.

In conclusion, “Alma Mater” stirs up many emotions. It reflects on that joyful yet scary time when someone is genuinely about to experience freedom after so many years of ‘school’ or ‘detention.’ You can feel the celebration but with a twist of angst and anxiety as well. Growing up is a multifaceted experience. And some phases of maturity take longer than others. At some point, we may even find ourselves alone in our struggles. As “Alma Mater” ends, a “Happy Trails,” western-style tune replaces the melody.

At that point, the listener most assuredly visualizes a Lone Ranger-type character riding ALONE into the sunset – leaving everyone and everything they’ve ever known behind. Significant moments in life often carry with them a lonely or isolated-vibe. There will be times when we will not feel as if anyone else understands, but that’s okay. Stand firm in your Faith. Strive for holiness and godly sincerity. Lean not on your own earthly wisdom but instead on the grace of God (2 Corinthians 1:12-14). The day is coming when we will “finally get out of school.” Have you passed the test? Do you know and walk with the One that gives life everlasting? There’s no time like the present to seek and know Him. Before we must say ‘Goodbye’ for good.

That’s it for this week, Be well and catch you next Friday!

Until then, Keep Walkin’ in Faith and Rockin’ with Alice!

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"God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay.  I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen"

If you have just prayed that prayer, we want to celebrate your new victory with you.  Please contact us at prayers@oceanfloorministries.com so we can welcome you into the kingdom.  We don't want you to have to walk alone and we have some resources we would like the opportunity to share with you.

Have you accepted Christ as your Savior?

If you would like to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please pray the following prayer:

"God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay.  I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen"

If you have just prayed that prayer, we want to celebrate your new victory with you.  Please contact us at prayers@oceanfloorministries.com so we can welcome you into the kingdom.  We don't want you to have to walk alone and we have some resources we would like the opportunity to share with you.

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