'School House Rock!''s Very First Song

Every child remembers the best types of school days: movie days.

And every teacher remembers showing an educational film series that was also entertaining: “School House Rock!”

This week marks the loveable videos’ 40th anniversary. During this week in 1973, David McCall of Madison Avenue ad agency McCaffrey and McCall had an idea that ABC accepted and then made into an animated short.

McCall realised that his son was having trouble remembering academic facts, but easily remembered the lyrics to pop songs. He put two and two together and came up with songs accompanied by animations.

The program aired Saturday mornings and taught grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics. McCall pitched the idea to ABC because it was his agency’s biggest ad client.

The series ran from 1973 to 1985, then again from 1993 to 1999, and finally went straight to DVD in 2009.

Here’s “School House Rock!”‘s very first song, “Three is a Magic Number,” featured in the pilot episode:

This tune was written and performed by Bob Dorough.

Over the years, General Foods, Nabisco, Kellogg’s, and McDonald’s have sponsored the segments. The series is the longest-running short-form animated educational short that ran on the network.

Each season had a different academic theme, with the fourth season focusing on science. It was called “Science Rock.” Songs included “Do the Circulation,” “The Energy Blues,” and  “Interplanet Janet.” 

Here’s “Interplanet Janet:” 

The only season not to be rerun was “Computer Rock” because it became outdated so quickly. It’s not even featured on YouTube.

When Disney bought ABC, it continued airing the show, only one of two animated shows to remain on the network after the start of “One Saturday Morning.”

In honour of the 30th anniversary 10 years ago, a new song, “I’m Gonna Send Your Vote To College,” was released.

More new songs were released as recently as 2009, including “Energy Blues:”

So if you remember the lyrics “conjunction junction what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses” or “I’m just a bill,” you have 40-year-old “School House Rock!” to thank.

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