Mr. Bob Dorough
“Listen -Three Is a Magic Number – MP3″
This post comes to you a little earlier than normal, due to the fact that we here at the Funky16Corners compound are flying the distress flag. All last week the little Corners were under siege from some rogue virus that prevented the stomach from retaining its contents (if you kow what I mean, and I think you spew, I mean do…), and last night my lovely wife herself succumbed and took to her (near) deathbed, which leave me and the boys here in the living room, me with my coffee, them with their toys (they’re feeling better, thank you Jeebus) and that makes three, and as you all know, that’s a magic number.
If you aren’t hip to the magical oeuvre of Bob Dorough, as it spans 60 years of the musical landscape, then you ought to get familiar. However, as today’s selection is likely to illustrate, you probably already are (familiar) and didn’t even know it.
Dorough – to borrow a phrase from those Eurotrash characters on Saturday Night Live – is a GENNYUS. Though he’s sometimes gotten short shrift from some moldy fig types in the world of jazz, on account of he is, how do you say, unconventional, I come here to testify to the fact that he has been, and continues to be one of the real sources of pure musical joy, something he brings to everything he touches.
Now I must admit that to really do justice to the man and his music the issue must be addressed at great length (which I may very well do sometime soon, as I just laid a new cornerstone in my collection of Dorough rarities), but to wrap it all up in paragraph form, since the 50’s Bob Dorough has recorded many albums of his own (all good) and worked incognito with the 44th Street Flower Factory, Schoolhouse Rock and as the First Hippie, and in the background (along with his pal Stu Scharf) with Spanky and Our Gang, Alzo & Udine and many others, not to mention his appearance as one of the very few vocalists to record with Miles Davis.
Like Savoire Faire he is EVERYWHERE, and wherever he goes he leaves behind him a trail of wonderfulness, like some kind of hip bodhisattva. If you haven’t had the opportunity to catch him in a live setting, I’d suggest you do so, as he is hovering in the vicinity of 80 (though a very spry and groovy octogenarian).
One of the many stops on the Bob Dorough Express – and for many the most notable – was his early-70’s work on the animated educational series, Schoolhouse Rock. It was in that context, that Dorough, along with Blossom Dearie, Dave Frishberg, Jack Sheldon, Grady Tate and others, created a masterpiece of subversive mathematical, grammatical and historical vignettes that drilled deeply into the psyches of kids growing up in the 70’s (and far beyond).
Of the different sub-series in the Schoolhouse Rock cycle, perhaps the best remembered is Multiplication Rock, in which Bob and his pals whipped a little numerical magic on all of us, with the counting, and the multiplying and such to the point where 35 years down the line we’re still singing the songs he helped create.
One of the finest of these was ‘Three Is a Magic Number’. If this sounds familiar for reasons other than having heard the actual song, it may be because no less a group than De La Soul sampled the track for their own ‘The Magic Number’. I mention the sample because like, how could I not, but this tune is no mere sample fodder.
Therein, you get Bob’s magic voice, some swinging drums, electric piano (probably Bob again), kalimba (always cool) and those mystical lyrics, which I’ve been singing to my sons since they dropped into this world.
It’s a groove of the best kind, where there are treats for your ears, your head and your heart.
I hope you dig it.