Watch Original Schoolhouse Rock Composers Sing “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill” Live in Concert
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Watch Original Schoolhouse Rock Composers Sing “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill” Live in Concert

Initially flushed, Rock the School Building!the animated interlude that ran between the lines of ABC’s Saturday morning cartoons from 1973 to 1984, may seem like an interesting lesson and the equivalent of putting spinach in pancakes (and a major touchstone of Gen X.)

Not too fast! It’s also jazz, baby!

Jazz pianist Bob Dorough recalls how an advertising executive at a New York advertising agency came up with the idea:

My boys can’t memorize their times tables, but they sing with Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, so why don’t you put that in rock and we’ll call it Multiplication Rock?

Dorough, whose compositional preferences led to “amazing love songs” and challenging vocal numbers, realized that his first order of business was to write great songs:

I got an idea let’s pick a number. Three! That’s a good number. And I sat down at the piano and started playing around. It took 2 weeks.

In his hands, three became the magic number, a worm ear to speed even the most reluctant elementary mathematician up to speed in no time.

Eventually, Dorough was able to bring in many of his jazz world friends, including, most famously, a trumpeter and The Merv Griffin Show sidekick Jack Sheldon, whose lone delivery is a highlight straight from “Conjunction Junction”.

(Many Schoolhouse Rock! fans, seeing excerpts from the duo’s mid-90s live appearance on the KTLA Morning Show, above, admit to not believing Sheldon’s soul is of the blue-eyed kind, despite the animation engineer who served as his avatar in the three-minute episode. it is white.)

In an interview with the director of the Fillius Jazz Archive at Hamilton College, Sheldon agreed that the series owed a heavy debt to jazz:

When we made Conjunction Junction, it was me and Teddy Edwards And Nick Ceroli And Leroy vinegar and Bob Dorough played the piano. It was a jazz band… it really had nothing to do with rock. It’s always been jazz, but we said rock and roll, so everyone likes it for rock and roll.

Another memorable collaboration between Sheldon and Dorough is the much-parodied “I’m Just a Bill”, in which a tired scroll wanders the steps of the Capital Building, explaining to a wide-eyed young boy (voiced by his son) the process. a bill becomes law.

dorough’ Rock the School Building! contributions include the haunting Figure Eight, the down-to-earth Lucky Seven Sampson, whose sentiments Dorough identified most closely, and Naughty Number Nine, which his protégé, singer-songwriter Nellie McKay, singled out for special praise, “because it is a bit grotesque and subversive.” :”

(It) makes me want to gamble and win. I was captivated when I heard Bob’s raspy voice breaking the rules even as he explained it… this guy has a wild mind, which I later discovered equals creativity.

He also paid the ever-sunny Dorough, whom he first met “glowing with health and cheerfulness, spreading sunshine wherever she went on the East Stroudsburg University campus, the highest praise:

Lou ReedThe idea of ​​hell is sitting in heaven with Bob Dorough.

via Laughing Squid

Related Content

Schoolhouse Rock: Revisit a Nostalgic Collection of Educational Videos

I’m Just a Pill: A Schoolhouse Rock Classic Reimagined to Maintain Reproduction Rights in 2017

Conspiracy Theory Rock: Saturday Night Live’s Schoolhouse Rock Parody May Have Been Censored

Come on Halliday is Chief Primatologist of Inky East Village zines and authors, latest, from Creative, Unknown: The Little Potato Manifesto And Creative Activity Book, Not Famous. Follow him @AyunHalliday.

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