Tuesday, April 24, 2018

RIP Bob Dorough

My oldest kid told me the other day about some tumblr thing where you're supposed to list the 10 albums which had the biggest impact on you. She laughed at the absurdity of such a notion, and then looked astonished as I ripped off my top 10 list of the albums which had the biggest impact on me. It was far from the first time I'd ever pondered that exact question, I explained.

But when it comes to songs, to artists, one who's up there for me, personally, with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Brian Eno is Bob Dorough.

He had a fine career as a jazz pianist and singer, but for people of my generation, it was as the creator of Schoolhouse Rock that he'll forever be remembered, and rightly so. He created dozens of enduring tunes with catchy lyrics designed to actually make you learn without even realizing you were and succeeding magnificently. He sang a large percentage of them, too, and his friendly, accessible voice was absolutely perfect, as the gentle but propulsive "My Hero, Zero" makes obvious.

And yet look at his versatility: the same guy who wrote that and "Three Is a Magic Number" wrote the genuine funk of "I Got Six," sung by brilliant drummer Grady Tate, and the delicately haunting "Figure Eight," sung so tenderly by the ethereal and impossibly wonderfully named Blossom Dearie. And those are just some of the multiplication songs he wrote, never mind the history and science and grammar.

Thanks, Bob.

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