Song of the Day #1,605: ‘Middle School Frown’ – Josh Rouse

I’m entering my second week of songs that have personal meaning for me — a quality that is extremely rare in the music I listen to. Tellingly, many of these songs aren’t particular favorites of mine… the personal connection clearly isn’t that important when it comes to my enjoyment and appreciation of good music.

Last week’s songs all focused on the life cycle of a relationship… from adolescent romance through marriage, kids and ultimately death. This week’s songs are less unified in theme but they do seem to share a certain melancholy (surprise!) quality and most of them deal with some combination of nostalgia and regret.

Josh Rouse’s ‘Middle School Frown’ is a bittersweet track tucked away in the middle of his excellent album Nashville.

It deals with the remorse he feels for the way he and his friends treated a young outsider during middle school. Rouse doesn’t paint the girl as a victim — on the contrary, she gets the better of her detractors by rising above their taunts. It is Rouse who ends up deeply ashamed by the events.

I don’t have any specific recollections of being on either end of this common middle-school scenario, but it still feels very familiar. It’s so much easier to join the crowd rather than the person who sits outside the crowd. We should all hope to have the strength to fight that urge at some point in our lives, even if we couldn’t manage it in middle school.

No it ain’t the way that your hair hangs down
And you dance like a clown
We just don’t like you around

You were a new waver, it was 1983
I was new on the scene
I just wanted everyone to like me

So I told ‘em that we’re not friends
And I thought you were weird
What a two-faced thing to do

And you held your head high
Yeah you held your head high
When you walked down my street
Oh no

My birthday party, you just showed up
We were so stuck up
We just wanted to be mean

Yeah, there goes that girl with the cheap guitar
She’s a punk rock star
She’s a dying art

And you held your head high
Yeah you held your head high
When you walked down my street

And you rolled your eyes to the sky
Yeah you rolled your eyes to the sky
You don’t feel a thing

And you held your head high
Yeah you held your head high
When you walked down my street
Oh no

No it ain’t the way that your hair hangs down
And you dance like a clown
It’s the middle school frown

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,605: ‘Middle School Frown’ – Josh Rouse

  1. Dana says:

    Again, not really seeing your personal connection on this one, but it’s a good song and a particularly relevant theme as our kids make their way through middle and high school.

  2. Andrea Katz says:

    Thanks for the selection. I loved this one. I have been on both sides of this equation.

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