Hope your holiday was “historic” — please enjoy the following 70’s flashback of cartoon ditties whose tunes & lyrics still stick in the brains of “Generation Xers” everywhere, from the popular Schoolhouse Rock! series of animated Public Service Announcements from the 70’s. These patriotic ones in particular were created to celebrate the country’s Bicentennial in 1976, to help goose our national pride at a time we were still kinda stinging from the Vietnam War.
Schoolhouse Rock! has gotta be one of the most far-reaching Public Service campaigns of modern times, the DIY effort of David McCall, a Madison Avenue advertising executive who had the idea to set scholastic info to music after noticing how easily kids memorized ad jingles and rock song lyrics.
His first song was “Three is a Magic Number,” which tested well with kids but had limited market potential in a world that had yet to invent Radio Disney. But we did have Saturday morning cartoons, so McCall’s team pitched their idea to turn his fact-filled kiddie ditties into animated cartoons for ABC, and an entire generation of American children memorized grammar rules, multiplication tables, and even the preamble of our Constitution, one catchy little tune at a time.
SchoolHouse Rock! was the first of a curious spate of kid-friendly Public Service Announcements, when TV apparently felt some sort of pressure to be educational. There was practically no limit to the kinds of info disseminated via musical cartoon: “Eat cheese,” “Don’t play in an old fridge,” “Brush your teeth,” “It’s OK to make mistakes,” and perhaps inexplicably “Freeze juice on a stick” because…. well, just because. It seemed like a novel idea back then.
These days, we all have more info than we know what to do with — kids included. Hope you enjoyed our little rewind back to the days before we’d all seen everything on Pinterest.