In 1996, a group of young bands who grew up with Schoolhouse Rock were asked to record cover songs for a tribute album called Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks. The covers record included groups like Pavement, Better Than Ezra, Man or Astro-Man?, Skee-Lo, and many others. We asked a few of these artists to tell us more about how Schoolhouse Rock impacted them -- and how they approached their cover version:
Kevin Griffin, lead singer of Better Than Ezra:
I remember when we got the call to do 'Conjunction Junction.' Stone Temple Pilots had been scheduled to do it, but dropped out at the last minute. With only a few days to get it done, we flew to L.A. and recorded with producer Paul Fox at A&M Studios (now Henson Studios).
I had been of fan of School House Rock ever since I was a child, and could recite most of the songs by heart. So the lyrics and singing were easy. I already knew them. But it took us awhile to figure out the chords to the song because Bob Dorough was a jazz guy and was doing chords we'd never even heard of.
Dorough's collection of songs is sublime, and 'Conjunction Junction' is the piece de resistance.
Brian Causey (AKA Star Crunch) from Man Or Astro-Man?:
I'm not sure if we actually picked the song or if it was chosen for us. I probably would of picked some deeper cut like "A Victim Of Gravity" because it was a bit darker sounding -- but "Interplanet Janet" is a great song. I haven't counted, but it probably has more words than all off our other vocal songs combined. We wound up speeding it up a bit, and I remember it being almost impossible to sing.
Whoever assembled the cast for the Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks comp was pretty genius. There was some oddball choices on it, but it seemed everyone involved had been the same kid that was rolling around on the sofa on Saturday morning, hypnotized by Schoolhouse Rocks. I thought it was great that everyone took it as serious as us. As a kid, I remember the animation looking a bit underwhelming -- but the songs completely infectious. In that time period, Saturday mornings was the only real time a kid could feel completely connected to the world. Those songs were our life blood!
I'm pretty sure I have Mr. Morton on repeat in the back of my head since I was 10. I'll never forget what a predicate is.
I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1975, so I grew up with Schoolhouse Rock, and and I know every song in the catalog. They're some of my favorites.
I always like a challenge, so I tried to pick something difficult or something you'd think could not be turned into something current. I chose "The Tale of Mr. Morton." When I got the project and I was playing the record back I was trying to figure out, how am I going to turn this into a rap? You know, they're singing and I rap, so it was a real challenge. And it was so melancholy, it was real difficult to turn that piece around. But I like the melancholy feel.
I have two girls, and they watch Schoolhouse Rock all the time. My youngest especially. I still sing these songs -- they're forever.
Hear Skee-Lo talk about his cover version here.