You may have never heard of singer-songwriter Bob Dorough, but his songs are a pop culture phenomenon that rocked their way into the homes of millions of Americans over the past 40 years.
Disguised as Saturday morning cartoons, ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock entertained and taught grammar, history, math, and science to generations of children.
The catchy and infectious lyrics are known to many of us who can sing along to the popular tunes including, “Conjunction Junction,” or “I’m Just a Bill.”
Then there is, “Three is a Magic Number,” “My Hero, Zero,” and “Interjections!” And who can forget “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get your Adverbs Here.”
It all started when an ad agency executive asked Dorough to set the multiplication tables to a rock music song to help his son remember his multiplication tables. Schoolhouse Rock became an instant hit.
Through the years, Dorough has heard from people who grew up with Schoolhouse Rock. “I’ve received letters and emails of thanks and love from all over. It’s a wonderful and gratifying feeling knowing my music helped so many people,” he said.
There was nothing like Schoolhouse Rock before, and it made learning fun, but Dorough says it was TV that brought it to life. “Saturday morning TV was wonderful and made Schoolhouse Rock a huge hit. I don’t think our records alone could have achieved that success.”
Dorough said once Schoolhouse Rock expanded to include grammar and science, he required educational consultants to make sure he got the lyrics right. One of those education experts was Odvard Egil (Gil) Dyrli, a retired UConn professor.
“Math lyrics were easy,” said Dorough, “but when we got into science and grammar, we needed Gil Dyrli, whom I call a guru expert, to check our lyrics to make sure they were correct.”
Many teachers use Schoolhouse Rock as learning tools in their classrooms and Dorough travels across the country performing live concerts in schools and communities.
Dorough will perform his classic Schoolhouse Rock hits in a benefit concert on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. at the CREC Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies on Blue Hills Avenue in Bloomfield.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students with proceeds going to CREC’s Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies program for students participating in a field study in South Africa in November.
Dorough says his concerts attract both adults and children. “I hope adults will come and that parents will bring their children to Bloomfield for a fun evening to support the worthy cause.”