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 eleven 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?
6.5. Wow! (Interjections)
Darn! As the commenters have pointed out, I left out Interjections. Hey! Now we can all be happy! 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!)
8. Interplanet Janet
Lynn Ahrens again, from Science Rock. Yes, Pluto is included. You're welcome.
9. Unpack Your Adjectives
Performed by Blossom Dearie. "Boys are dumb or else they're brainy!"
10. My Hero, Zero
Dorough teaches us how Zero can be a hero. "No one ever gets [to infinity], but you can try!"
11. 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 twelve bucks. 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.