And here’s a song that never got any radio play, but is probably as beloved as any #1 hit single from the era.
So despite the fact that from the time I was 8, many of my Saturday mornings as a kid were taken up by soccer games, I still had time to watch Saturday morning cartoons, and in the case of the Bugs Bunny / Roadrunner Hour, long after I’d stopped watching anything else.
And the little edutainment music videos that were collectively known as Schoolhouse Rock! got as memorized in the same way my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons got memorized. And, like everybody else, my favorite was “Conjunction Junction.”
But one of the funny things about Schoolhouse Rock was that there actually wasn’t a whole bunch of rock songs, at least not hard rock songs. Which makes sense: you want the kids to pay attention to the words, so most of the were light, folk-rock songs.
Or in the case of “Conjunction Junction,” a flat-out big band jazz song, written by Bob Dorough, and sung with great gusto by Jack Sheldon, who continually answered the insanely catchy question posed by the Andrews Sisters-channelling Terry Morel & Mary Sue Berry:
(Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?)
Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.
(Conjunction Junction, how’s that function?)
I got three favorite cars
That get most of my job done.
(Conjunction Junction, what’s their function?)
I got “and”, “but”, and “or”,
They’ll get you pretty far.
And with Vince Guaraldi’s scores for the Peanuts TV specials, “Conjunction Junction” was probably my biggest exposure to any kind of jazz as a kid.
And “Conjunction Junction” is also just a fucking well-written song. The internal rhyme of the title hook. The way the spoken-word verses build into the chorus. Even the irritant of “how’s that function?” which has always seemed a weird question to ask, because it’s a completely different type of question than “what’s your function?” works, precisely it’s the kind of variation on a hook that keeps you interested.
And it goes without saying that maybe I learned about conjunctions to boot!
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