Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Five Flashback - Schoolhouse Rock!

I have been blessed to write contributions/reviews/interviews/opinion pieces for several country music and roots-oriented websites and publications over the years including Saving Country Music, Nashville Scene, Country California, Country Weekly, American Noise, The 9513 and Engine 145. As a regular contributor to the last two in that list, I did several hundred features/pieces. One of those was this fun Friday Five playlist that I will reprint here to give it a home in perpetuity. This piece was originally published in February 2011 in The 9513.

Back when we only had three television stations and we had to walk five uphill miles both ways to and from school through three feet of snow, Saturday mornings were looked forward to for a little cartoon watching. And if you were watching ABC, you became intimately familiar with a little in-between segment called Schoolhouse Rock!.

Schoolhouse Rock! was an elaborate series of animated musical educational short films that aired during Saturday morning cartoons between 1973 and 1985 (although it was revived again between 1993 and 1999.) It covered topics including grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics.

Now I was a little partial to The Tale Of Mr. Morton, but over the course of the show’s history, we learned how a bill was passed, what the heck an adverb was, our multiplication tables, and even our planets from Interplanet Janet. While the show centered mainly around soft rock and R&B music formats, several of the shorts were centered squarely in country music production. So this Friday, we present five Schoolhouse Rock shorts with country music touches.

5. “Dollars and Sense” Dolly Parton, Reba, Loretta Lynn and Wynonna Judd get great namedrops on this little piece about how interest with the bank works. Becky Sue is a ukulele playing aspiring country music star and she needs a new guitar and amp. Remember back in the good old days where banks actually loaned money?

4. “A Noun Is a Person, Place or Thing” These little shorts weren’t just sung by any little known schmuck off the street. A great example is this little short about nouns. The singer on this track, Lynn Aherns, won a Tony Award for the Broadway musical Ragtime and was nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for the animated film "Anastasia."

3. “Three Ring Government” The folks from Schoolhouse Rock! must have been psychics on this little number- politics really did turn into a circus.

2. “Preamble” “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Set to banjo.

1. “Elbow Room” A history geek’s perfect song, this little ditty shares how the citizens of the U.S. spread out across the country across the Mississippi into Louisiana and to the west. That little guy doing the deal with Thomas Jefferson looks like he has a Napoleon-complex.

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