Rock and Roll Movies

As long as there have been high schools, students in their last year have been dealing with senioritis. They might have called it something else, but once seniors see the end of the road, it is hard to keep them focused on school. Their fate for the next year has been decided and it is time to be with friends and celebrate the shared times you have had and look forward to future endeavors.

Where I work they create three-week mini courses that might capture students’ interests enough to insure ensure their attendance and participation. By this point the school has surrendered many learning objectives and set the bar pretty low. I was asked what course I might like to do. Earlier in the year I have taught a Psychology course and when informally talking with students, a group of us discovered overlapping musical interests. Not so much that we liked all the same bands , but rather music held a special place in our lives. Not that most teenagers don’t like music, but not all them buy turntables so they can hear classic rock vinyl the way it was meant to be heard.

Being an educator, I wanted to teach them something of value. Being of a different generation, I thought it was my duty to help them understand a bit of the history of rock and roll. I wrote about the History of Rock and Roll is in an earlier blogpost, but when I wrote it I had not yet taken on the task of sharing my musical interests with students. In talking with my students about rock and roll, I discovered that while they liked the music they didn't know much about rock movies. I realized there were a lot of movies I considered "rock classics" which had been absent in their education.

I took went about making a list of rock movies. It was a lot of fun thinking of all the movies that might be “classics of rock.” I immediately thought of Woodstock and A Hard Day’s Night. Then I thought maybe they should watch an Elvis movie. And on and on. I came up with a list that was too long for them ever to watch for the class, but which I told them I thought they ought to consider watching in their lifetimes. Then they added movies to the list. And I added some more. And they added. And you could add too.

Sharing a movie title and having it be a catalyst for another’s memory reminded me of a game I play in the car with my daughter. We started playing this game when she was in high school and now some years later when we are in the car for an extended time we sometimes find ourselves back at it. It is a form of a game I used to know as “Geography.” You name a city, state, country, mountain range or river and whatever letter it ends in the next person has to think of a place that begins with that letter. For our version of the game, we use band names and rock singers. When we play together, we each have an advantage over each the other. I know groups she has never heard of and she knew ones I keep thinking she is making up. It passes the time, and as with most things, the older she gets the more often she wins at the game. I am sure movie buffs have their version of this as do prolific book readers and fans of various forms of engagement.

When you have time on your hands and are looking for something to do to pass the time, I encourage you to play the rock and roll game (or other shared interest) or make up your own list of rock and roll movies or add to mine. For the purposes of the class, we picked a dozen movies for them to see and us to discuss, and then, because it was still school, they wrote a paper.

Here is my list with the ones I wanted them to see on my watch highlighted. Your highlights could easily be different. As was theirs. Feel free to delete and add and make your own list

Rock and roll movie list

A to Z: The Led Zeppelin Story

Almost Famous

American Graffiti

Blues Brothers

Buddy Holly Story

Cadillac Records

Concert for Bangladesh

Don’t Look Back

8 Mile

Eddie and the Cruisers

Endless Harmony

Festival Express

Get on up



Grosse Point


Hail Hail Rock and Roll

Hard Day’s Night

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

High Fidelity

I’m not There

Jailhouse Rock, Viva Las Vegas or Kid Creole

Jesus Christ Superstar

La Bamba

Last Waltz



Mayor of Sunset Strip

Momma Mia

Monterey Pop Fest

Purple Rain

Rock and Roll High School


Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saturday Night Fever

Sid and Nancy


Spinal Tap


Sound City

Stop Making Sense

Tenacious D –The Pick of Destiny

That Thing You Do

The Harder They Come

The Kids are Alright

The Ties that Bond

The Union

The Wall


Wayne’s World


#RockandRollMovies #Senioritis #HighSchool #Music

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