Teacher, Teacher
Recording Artist:
Writers: Jim Vallance
Bryan Adams
Date Written: June 1984 / Vancouver, Canada
Albums: Soundtrack: Teachers (1985)
Flashback: Best of 38 Special (1987)
Anthology (2001)
Very Best of the A&M Years 1977-1988 (2003)
#4 - Billboard Top Tracks Chart / 1984 (10 weeks on the chart)
#16 - The Record (Canada) / November 26, 1984 (11 weeks on the chart)
#25 - Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart / November 1984 (12 weeks on the chart)

Teacher Teacher spent 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, peaking at #25 the week ending Nov. 24, 1984.   Bryan and I had two more songs on the chart that same week:  Bryan's version of Run To You was at #34 (it would later peak at #5, in January 1985) and Joe Cocker's version of Edge Of A Dream was at #93 (it had peaked at #69 the week before).
Don Barnes: vocal
Jeff Carlisi: guitar
Donnie Van Zant: guitar
Larry Junstrom: bass
Jack Grondin: drums
Steve Brookins: drums
Produced by Rodney Mills and 38 Special.  Recorded by Rodney Mills and Greg Quesnel at Studio One (Doraville, Georgia).
"Rebel Rebel"
"Bad Case Of Lovin' You"
Invitation to the premier of the film "Teachers"
(click to view full-size)
38 Special
Bryan Adams and I wrote Teacher, Teacher for the MGM film "Teachers" starring Nick Nolte, Judd Hirsch and JoBeth Williams.

Bryan had always wanted to write a song with a double title -- like David Bowie's Rebel, Rebel or Moon Martin's Bad Case Of Lovin' You -- and this presented us with the perfect opportunity.

We didn't see the film until after we'd written the song, but we'd read the script, and that was enough to get us started. In fact, for the initial lyric draft we simply drew upon our own experiences with teachers. My school years were less volatile than Bryan's (he quit in Grade 10 or 11), but between us we'd encountered our fair share of educators -- some of them inspirational, some of them bona fide "nut-bars" -- so there was no shortage of material for our lyric.

Teacher, Teacher was recorded by ".38 Special" (nicely done, I thought) and appeared in the "Teachers" film and on the soundtrack album.

I didn't meet the band at the time, but a year later I got a call from .38 Special vocalist Don Barnes, asking if I’d consider co-writing with them. Don and guitarist Jeff Carlisi flew up to Vancouver a couple of times after that, and I joined them once in Atlanta. Altogether we wrote a dozen songs (several remain unrecorded).

Don and Jeff are great guys, very talented and very funny ... we had a lot of laughs working together.
"What I Like About You"
"Bend Me Shape Me"
"Cherry Cherry"
The Romantics
In October 1986 I got a call from the manager of "The Romantics", a Detroit group who'd had a huge hit in 1980 with What I Like About You ... a record I really liked (I still like it!).  They wanted me to co-write some songs, and possibly produce their next album.

I was interested enough to drive to Washington state to see them perform at a college in Bellingham. They put on a great show, and I met the band backstage afterwards.

Unfortunately things "went south" almost immediately. Drummer Jimmy Marinos started in about how closely Teacher Teacher resembled What I Like About You, the insinuation being that Adams and I had ripped them off. The other band members joined in the verbal beating, and it was all rather awkward, me defending Teacher Teacher while "The Romantics" ganged up on me! Somehow I managed to escape unscathed, but needless to say, I "passed" on the opportunity to work with the band (surprisingly, I received several more calls from the band's label management and record company in 1988).

If anything, the two songs -- Teacher Teacher and What I Like About You -- share a common musical heritage with a much earlier song, Bend Me Shape Me by the group American Breed (it reached #5 on the U.S. charts on December 2, 1967).  An even earlier example is Neil Diamond's Cherry Cherry which peaked at #6 on the U.S. charts in August 1966.
Film critic Roger Ebert gave "Teachers" two stars (out of four) and had this to say:

"The idea here was to do for teaching what MASH did for the war. Unfortunately, they've done for schools what "General Hospital" did for medicine.

'Teachers' has an interesting central idea, about shell-shocked teachers trying to remember their early idealism, but the movie junks it up with so many sitcom compromises that we can never quite believe the serious scenes.

'Teachers' was just interesting enough to convince me a great movie can be made about big-city high schools. This isn't it."
Lyrics: Just when I thought I finally learned my lesson well
There was more to this than meets the eye
And for all the things you taught me, only time will tell
If I'll be able to survive - oh yeah

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me all I need to know?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
Or will I fall when you let me go? - oh no

Am I ready for the real world, will I pass the test?
You know it's a jungle out there
Ain't nothin' gonna stop me, I won't be second best
But the joke's on those who believe the system's fair - oh yeah.

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me if I'm right or wrong?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
I wanna know what's goin' on - oh yeah

So the years go on and on
But nothing's lost or won
And what you learned is soon forgotten
They take the best years of your life
Try to tell you wrong from right
But you walk away with nothing - Oh Oh.

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me all I need to know?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
Or will I fall when you let me go?
Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me if I'm right or wrong?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
I wanna know what's goin' on - Oh

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Teacher, teacher, Ooh yeah.
Teacher, teacher
Teacher, teacher