If you're a child of the '70s or '80s, you spent plenty of Saturday morning cartoon time with Schoolhouse Rock and then you sang the songs over and over until your parents lost their minds. Schoolhouse Rock was interesting partly because it was educational, but mostly because it resulted in so many insanely catchy, groovy tunes, often performed by jazz artists. Take a listen to 12 of my favorites, and relive a little slice of your childhood.
1. "I'm Just a Bill"
...Sittin' up on Capitol Hill. Music and lyrics by Dave Frishberg, performed by Jack Sheldon, who also voiced "Louie The Lightning Bug." Remember Louie from those '80s PSAs?
2. "Elementary, My Dear"
Bob Dorough teaches us even-number multiplication. Also, the catchiest part: "Didn't it, didn't it rain!"
3. "Three Is a Magic Number"
The inimitable Bob Dorough again, who did a bunch of songs for the Multiplication Rock episode. "Three Is a Magic Number" was actually the first song recorded for the series, and I think it's the best.
4. "The Four-Legged Zoo"
Dorough again. "Anyone knows that who cares about seven..." — truer words were never sung.
5. "Counting by Fives"
This is catchy, groovy, and educational. What more could you want?
6. "Conjunction Junction"
Music by Bob Dorough, lyrics by Jack Sheldon and Terri Morel, and performed by Sheldon (the guy from "I'm Just a Bill"). What's your function?
7. "Wow! (Interjections)"
Hey! The song is by Lynn Ahrens, performed by Essra Mohawk (who also wrote "Change of Heart" for Cyndi Lauper! Wow!).
Need to memorize the preamble to the U.S. Constitution? Let Lynn Ahrens help. (Note: This list is sadly short on the "America Rock" bits from the bicentennial; you'll forgive me if I went for the obvious numerical hits!)
9. "Interplanet Janet"
Lynn Ahrens again, from Science Rock. Yes, Pluto is included. You're welcome.
10. "Unpack Your Adjectives"
Performed by Blossom Dearie. "Boys are dumb or else they're brainy!"
11. "My Hero, Zero"
Dorough teaches us how Zero can be a hero. "No one ever gets [to infinity], but you can try!"
12. "The Good Eleven"
Groove this list out with one last tune from Bob Dorough. "Yes, eleven almost makes multiplication fun!"
More Schoolhouse Rock!
Amazon has the whole series on DVD for $12. If you want modern takes on the tunes, check out Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks, featuring amazing indie acts including Pavement, Blind Melon, The Lemonheads, Daniel Johnston, and even Biz Markie.
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