Goodbye to Schoolhouse Rock! creator George Newall

Still from Schoolhouse Rock that says "Noun" in the top and has a girl walking to the left.Ars has a nice post about one of the creators of Schoolhouse Rock!, George Newall, who passed away at 88.

Most Gen X’ers I know can recite at least a few of the Schoolhouse Rock! shorts, and have fond memories of the cartoons meant to teach kids math, grammar, science, and American history or process. (Later series would tackle money and computers.)

A few weeks ago I’d dialed up some of the Grammar Rock episodes on streaming. “Conjunction Junction” and “A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing” have always been fresh in my mind, and I could hum a few bars of them decades later. But it was a surprise to me that I still remembered so much about the songs even though I haven’t watched some of them since the 80s at the latest.

The newer ones don’t have the same charm, at least not to my mind. It’d be fair to say I’m not an unbiased observer, having absorbed the originals as if by osmosis. Of course, it’s a hard task to recreate the charm of the originals. They are so very 70s that attempts to add to their canon after the fact are almost certainly going to fall short.

Parodies and copies abound, too. I kind of wish they’d made one about “former” and “latter,” as I always have to do a little mental calculation when folks respond to a question with “the former” or “the latter.”

Come to think of it, I’d love it if they made a few new ones about “its” and “it’s” as well as “then” and “than.” Ahem.

Thanks to Mr. Newall and the other folks who created these gems.


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