The Lesson


Do you believe in formal education or are you a proponent of the school of hard knocks? Was your schooling a good preparation for your adult life or did it squeeze every precious drop of creativity from your soul like the juice of the lemon in a lemonade press? Did you leave school/university a rounded individual bursting with valuable skills or a desiccated husk of humanity with nothing left to give? A round, ripe, nutritious orange or the shrivelled and bitter skin of a crushed lemon?

Premiata Forneria Marconi¹ provide their thoughts on the subject in The Lesson, a single taken from their new album, Emotional Tattoos². Unfortunately, the Crotchety ears can’t make out enough of the words to know what message they bring.

Exercise 1: Listen to the song on YouTube and see if you can do any better.

On the double album PFM give us two bites at the cherry. The Lesson is given first in English and then, on the second disc, in Italian. In fact, all the songs on the first disc are sung in English and repeated, in Italian, on the second. (Except for the instrumental, Freedom Square, for obvious reasons.) Not that it helps this particular student; I’d need many, many Italian language lessons first. Perhaps I should have paid more attention in those boring Latin periods back in the sixties.

premiata forneria marconi

PFM is unquestionably the foremost Italian progressive rock band³ and has been since they were formed in 1970. Their albums from those early days still sound as fresh as newly picked fruit. This latest single is a lively song in the prog rock tradition. It doesn’t taste quite as sweet as those from the vintage Jet Lag album of 1977 but it would still perk up a patient in a hospital bed more effectively than a bunch of grapes.

The PFM vine may be old and twisted but it still produces plenty of fruit. I like to accompany it with grapes; preferably crushed, fermented and drunk. That pleasure is a lesson you learn only from experience; it isn’t taught in schools.


Discuss the following quote:

The difference between school and life?

In school you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.

– Tom Bodett

Further Reading

  1. The name means “award-winning Marconi bakery”.
  2. Sid Smith’s review of the album on hits the nail squarely on the head.
  3. Unless, of course, you know different.
  4. There’s a sour poem by Roger McGough giving a teacher’s wishful thoughts when confronted by an unruly class here. It, too, is called The Lesson and it smacks of long-suffering classroom experience.

5 thoughts on “The Lesson

  1. New to me and very listenable. Your nicely weighted questions at the start made me think. As to education, I’d add 2 phrases 1. you don’t make something heavier by weighing it 2. you don’t learn to ride a bike by taking it apart and labelling it. Not sure where they leave us but.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like my parents I have always believed in the value of a good education. It certainly stood me in good stead. My partner, on the other hand, believes many children have been smothered by the straightjacket of a narrow curriculum leaving them unable to fulfil their true potential. So, I see both sides of the argument.


  3. Had no idea that PFM had produced a new album. Nor that they boasted 7 members! Though I recall Pirate Horizon mentioning a tour in a comment over at VC recently.
    Think Photos of Ghosts is still my fave (English version with lyrics by Pete Sinfield, of course!).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I only had Jet Lag on vinyl. I don’t know Photos of Ghosts and I haven’t been keeping track of PFM, although they do crop up in the literature from time to time. So I was surprised when they came up on my Release Radar. Hence this post. Isn’t the Internet a wonderful place?


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