The Ultimate Guide to Schoolhouse Rock

The Ultimate Guide to Schoolhouse Rock

Schoolhouse Rock!, ABC's three-minute educational vignettes of infectious lyrics and music, aired its original 46 episodes between Saturday morning children's programming from 1973-1980.

Created by David McCall to help his son learn multiplication, the four-time Emmy winning Schoolhouse Rock! introduced basic arithmetic, history, grammar, and science to children, although adults invariably found themselves singing along. Everyone has their favorites, but arguably, the top ten songs are:

  • Three is a Magic Number

  • A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing

  • Conjunction Junction

  • Interjections!

  • Verb: That's What's Happening

  • Lolly, Lolly Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here

  • I'm Just a Bill

  • No More Kings

  • The Shot Heard Round the World

  • The Preamble

A pop-culture phenomenon, Schoolhouse Rock!, became McCall's advertising venture when the first segment, "Three is a Magic Number," became popular with testers. Soon animation artist, Tom Yohe, drew some pictures to match the lyrics. McCall's company put together a demo to be shown on ABC. It was picked up by the network after current shows agreed to slice three minutes off their own programming.

The working title to the soon-to-be series of shorts was "Scholastic Rock," but soon was renamed "ABC Schoolhouse Rock!" Each season operated under a different theme: multiplication was season one; grammar, two; America, three; and, science, four; with such favorite characters as Lolly, the "Conjunction Junction" engineer, King George and Bill.

The shorts enjoyed several incarnations through latter years as computer rock was added as personal computers became mainstream household staples. DVDs arrived for the 21st century with the 30th anniversary edition, snippets and entire vignettes can be found on the Internet and there's even a musical stage show slated for 2010.

Schoolhouse Rock!, or as it is now called Schoolhouse Rocky!, remains a pop-culture favorite as television and movies often parody or reference the series.

Three songs were used in movie soundtracks: "Three is a Magic Number" was used in the movie Slackers in 2002; 2003's Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde used "I'm Just a Bill;" and The Squid and the Whale used "Figure Eight" in 2005.

A School House Rock Rocks! tribute album featured the show's most famous songs performed by such talents as Blind Melon, Moby, Lemonheads, and Chavez.

It's nostalgic and educational, and the songs stick in your head:

"I hope and pray that I will, but today, I am still...just a bill..."

You can still hear the nasally voice sing as the bill sits wearily outside committee waiting to see if it becomes a law. When he does, you can't help but cheer.

"Conjunction Junction, what's that function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses..."

Clever word plays, and clever animation, and a clever educational resource surpassing the seventies generation. Schoolhouse Rock! proved that a song can be one of the best teachers.

Schoolhouse Rock Lyrics

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