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Tuition Madness

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Although this is the sixth song to go up in The Six Day Exile section of the site, it was actually the first song I wrote for the project, back when I envisioned it as a simple one-bass one-vocal project late last year. The scope of the album instrument-wise has branched out a bit since then, but the core of this song is pretty much the same as it was then.

Lyrically, the song is essentially about how society, and particularly American society, thinks that it’s somehow admirable to take on thousands of dollars in debt in a college education–never mind the fact that the college experience isn’t for everyone–and then quickly leave your house and take on the first job you can find, which may or may not be in whatever you studied in school, and soon lock yourself into an infinite cycle of debt; by the time you’ve paid off your school loans, Congratulations! Now you’ve got a huge mortgage to pay off, which you may pull off by the time you retire forty-plus years after graduation. Put into writing, it sounds completely absurd–and yet it’s standard operating procedure, here in the US. The song is also, to a degree, an expression of my frustration at bucking this trend, in that I stayed with my parents for a couple years while paying off my college debt. To me, it’s worth being a “loser” or whatever for two years when the tradeoff is that I’m not a slave to the student loan bodies for the next twenty, and it boggles me that no one else seems to see it that way.

Other fun facts:

  • The title of the song comes from a small ad for what I’m guessing was some type of seminar that a co-worker of mine had on her computer monitor.
  • I seem to be coming along vocally, at least range-wise–I manage to sustain a G above middle C at points in the song.
  • There were points in the song when I tried to adapt an “edge” to my voice–my original conception of the song had a kind of Eddie Vedder singing “Evenflow” sound to it–but for better or worse, I generally sound better in just a normal singing voice.
  • I absolutely destroy anything that might resemble a coherent narrative in the song, jumping back and forth between “we” and “you” as the subject.
  • This was actually my first experimentation with my drum machine, though “The Secret” ultimately found its way onto the site first. As I said here, it sounded a little too much like me playing drums–which is to say, not very good at all. The volume varies pretty widely on it in this song.


We study away our youth
Learn ourselves into debt
To shoehorn ourselves into debt
Yeah, we try to fit your mold
Of working adults, financial slaves,
Try to resolve this Catch-22

Free yet poor
Corporate servants
Get out of your house
As quick as you can
Is it smart? Does it matter?

Ah, we try to make ourselves smart
Get a piece of paper
Congrats, now you’re all alone
Yeah, you force us to play the game
Without the pieces, the needed tools
We try to pay you off before our dreams die

Wasted years
Independently destitute
Away from your family
Without their support
Wander through your life
From debt to debt
Is it smart? Does nobody question?

How many thousands
Stuck in the loop?
How many travel
With vacant eyes?
Enthusiasm lost
To the working lifestyle
Sacrificed in the pursuit of wealth
A hollow quest, worth nothing…

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