We asked our erstwhile head programmer, and esteemed scholar and author, Kier-la Janisse for her thoughts about the legendary Bob Donough, who will join us on Saturday June 23 at Lamar for an intimate show and tribute to SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK. He will also also appear live on Friday 6/22 at the Continental Club. Click here for more details about all.
'Any kid who grew up in the 70s was pretty much weaned on the sound of Bob Dorough’s voice. As the main voice and songwriter for ABC’s award-winning series of educational interstitials Schoolhouse Rock, Bob Dorough taught us about the supernatural qualities of prime numbers, how to give a cat an electric shock, and how all women were superheroes. Dorough’s contributions even precede the animated series, as he wrote all the songs on the pilot album, multiplication rock, and it was the success of this album that saw the idea hatched for an animated series.
I confess I still can’t really follow mathematics, but I do know more about American history than its Canadian counterpart (it didn’t hurt that the US bicentennial coincided with a great era of music and underground animation) , and I know the function of a conjunction, so I have Bob Dorough and Schoolhouse Rock to thank for that. Schoolhouse Rock was the perfect confluence of independent animation and music, and its identity is unshakable: I often find myself using ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ as an adjective unto itself. You know what it means: the scratchy watercolored designs of Tom Yohe that fit perfectly alongside the artwork of Jimmy Murakami, John and Faith Hubley, Vincent Collins (and even Charles Swenson’s work for Frank Zappa); and songs that were catchy, poignant and contemporary, hip to the urban sounds of funk orchestra and the solo 70s troubadour with equal panache. It is still, to my mind, the cultural epicentre of everything, that period where all my favourite things intersected, and I want to sincerely thank Bob Dorough for giving me the music that brought learning to life."