Schoolhouse Rock

My daughter was studying the Constitution in history class last week.  When she asked me a simple question about the Preamble, I immediately started humming the Schoolhouse Rock rendition.

We the People, …

Yeah, that didn’t go so well. I should stick to singing ‘Carpool Karaoke’ scales. She stopped me cold.  “Our teacher gave us the link, Dad,” she snarled, looking at me in a way only teen aged daughter’s can when embarrassed by the mere existence of parents.  Luckily, I was able to answer her question.  After I was dismissed, I couldn’t get that Preamble tune out of my head.  I loved the Schoolhouse Rock shorts.  So creative – such good memories. (side note: I was a Saturday morning cartoon slug.)

Elementary, My Dear

On the morning of Saturday January 6, 1973, Schoolhouse Rock premiered with a set of three-minute shorts that played between regularly scheduled cartoons: “My Hero, Zero,” “Elementary, My Dear,” “Three is a Magic Number,” and “The Four-Legged Zoo.” Over the next 13 years, those and other episodes of Multiplication RockGrammar RockScience Rock, and America Rock made things like a beleaguered bill awaiting ratification a cultural touchstone for a certain generation.

(Here’s a)  look back on the original run of catchy tunes that are still worth watching.

1. The series was originally called Scholastic Rock. The name was modified when the publishing company Scholastic, Inc. hired a lawyer who insisted they change it.

2. All of the songs were vetted by educational consultants from Bank Street School of Education.

3.  The original series run lasted from 1973 to 1985 , ultimately winning four Emmys.

4. The idea for the show first occurred to David B. McCall while vacationing with his family at a dude ranch in Wyoming. His son was struggling with learning the multiplication tables but, had no trouble at all memorizing Rolling Stones lyrics. Upon returning to the office, jazz pianist Bob Dorough composed a jingle about mathematics – “Three is a Magic Number”.

5. In “The Preamble,” all the names in the voting booth are people who worked on the song.

6. The University of Michigan Medical School and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons called to ask for ‘Telegraph Line’ to help introduce the nervous system to first-year medical students.

7. The airing of “Three Ring Government” was delayed for several years because executives at ABC were concerned that the FCC and Congress would resent being compared to a circus and threaten their broadcast license renewal.

From what I remember, “Conjunction Function” was a ‘fandom’ favorite, but not one of mine.  “Figure Eight” was way overrated.  I like the thought of “Interplanet Janet”, but also thought she was kinda … creepy.  “Verb” was truly “What Was Happenin’ “.  And, “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here” was just fun!

Lastly, I avoid talking politics in this blog for numerous reasons.  Hell, I avoid talking politics in general for numerous reasons.  But, I did chuckle at the ironic, yet formidable relevance of #7.

LOL, baby.

“Darn, that’s the end!”

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