Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Schoolhouse Rock: America Rock

I'm sure everyone is geared up for the July 4th weekend; I know I am. But between the fireworks and barbeques, we should all take a few moments to remember the founding and spirit of our country. And what better way to do that than with the help of--Schoolhouse Rock?

Let it be known that I am a huuuuuuuuuuuuge Schoolhouse Rock fan. I have every episode on video (except for the money-themed episodes) and the book written by the creators detailing the creation of the series. While I love them all to one degree or another, the ones that have stayed burned in my memory the most are the ones dealing with American history. Now with Independence Day upon us, it's the perfect opportunity to showcase these great America Rock segments.

There's no better place to start than the beginning, when the founding fathers decided they'd had enough of monarchy and wanted "No More Kings."

The king of course didn't take too kindly to this and took action, leading to "The Shot Heard 'Round The World."

Well, that was it. The founders formerly declared our independence, setting off "Fireworks" throughout the Western hemisphere.

With that whole Revolution thing taken care of, it was time to establish how our new government would work. The Articles of Confederation didn't work out so well, so we scrapped that in favor of the much improved Constitution, which starts off with "The Preamble" (man, this one is awesome!).

Many felt the country was quickly getting a bit crowded, so they headed west for more "Elbow Room."

Stories spread throughout the world about the growth of America, inspiring people of other nations to try their luck here, creating "The Great American Melting Pot." I have to say, if this isn't my favorite episode of all time, it's a strong number 2. It's certainly the most beautiful episode.

With an ever-increasing population and various needs for new goods and services rising, creative people invented new devices to improve the quality of life--all born from "Mother Necessity."

Despite all of the progress the country made in its first 100+ years of existence, only a select few were given the right to direct the course of the nation. A good part of this problem was rectified in 1920 when women who had been "Sufferin' Until Suffrage" were legally allowed the right to vote.

One of the cornerstones of American government has been the establishment of a system of checks and balances, ensuring (with varying degrees of success and failure) that no one branch of government have too much power. These branches, legislative, executive, and judicial, are intended to function equally, creating a "Three Ring Government."

The law is the basis for all of our freedoms and protections. How are laws created? They start as bills. What is a bill? Let's ask one. This, of course, is probably the most famous of all Schoolhouse Rock segments, and my personal favorite.

Everyone please have a safe and fun July 4th weekend! I'll see you Sunday (I think).


Ladytink_534 said...

I kind of remember seeing some of these when I was still in school. Great Independence Day tribute!

Phillyradiogeek said...

Thanks! Schoolhouse Rock debuted in the early 70s on ABC and stayed on the air through most of the 80s, making comebacks and departures here and there ever since. As of 2005, ABC was still airing one or two on Saturday mornings.

Todd Mason said...

Brian, have you ever explored the rest of the catalog of the jazz folks who composed and performed these, such as Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Blossom Dearie, et al.? As with Vince Guaraldi, you have a lot of music to enjoy...

ABC seemed to be trying harder in the 1970s, even if their other major kidvid initiative, the AFTERSCHSOOL SPECIALS, took a turn for the horrendous pdq. Then again, MAKE A WISH was a good series from them.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Todd, I would love to hear their other stuff. The I'm Learning to Share blog I've mentioned previously has some non-SCR Dorough stuff available for listening, but I haven't had the opportunity. Essra Mohawk, who sings "Suffrin' Until Suffrage," has a voice as powerful as Dearie's is sweet, and would be very interested in their other work.

And of course, Jack Sheldon is the man.


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