HomeEntertainmentDave Frishberg, Writer of ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Tune ‘I’m Just a Bill,’ Dies at 88

Dave Frishberg, Writer of ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Tune ‘I’m Just a Bill,’ Dies at 88

by Jonathan Howard
Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jazz musician and songwriter, Dave Frishberg has died at the age of 88. He is most known for writing the Schoolhouse Rock song I’m Just a Bill.

When it comes to educational music and entertainment, Schoolhouse Rock was unlike any other. From 1973-1985 the Saturday-morning cartoon shorts on ABC taught kids and young folks about basic facts. That ranged from civics to manners, and more. Frishberg passed away on Wednesday according to his Facebook page. The musician had been battling an illness over the course of several years according to his wife, April Magnusson.

Among the songs that Fishberg penned for Schoolhouse Rock include: Elementary, My Dear, Conjunction Junction, and of course, I’m Just a Bill. Those songs were released from 1973-1975 during three different episodes. Multiplication Rock, Grammar Rock, and America Rock, respectively. Back in 2014, Saturday Night Live did a sketch around the song I’m Just a Bill.

Of course, he wrote many songs and had a long and storied career. Among those that have performed the songs that Frishberg wrote are Rosemary Clooney, Shirley Horn, Anita O’Day, Michael Feinstein, Diana Krall, and Mel Tormé. Over the years his music was featured in movies and on television. In 2017, his memoir, My Dear Departed Past, was published detailing his life on the road, in music, and with Schoolhouse Rock.

During his career, his songs were featured in Legally Blonde 2. The artist always had a comedic edge to his writing and style. So, it makes sense that he was featured on comedy shows. While he was still working he spent time on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as well as bit roles on Simon & Simon and other shows. His Schoolhouse Rock work will continue to entertain children and those who grew up on his catchy tunes.

‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Songwriter Leaves Behind Legacy

As a songwriter, there are many times where one can be overlooked. David Frishberg experienced this but was also a celebrated artist in his own right. Let’s get into the history of his big hit, I’m Just a Bill, and why it was so impactful. While he wrote the song, Jack Sheldon actually did the singing on the track.

Sheldon, a renowned Jazz artist in his own right laid down the vocals on the track. The anthropomorphic bill, looking dejected, explains how he got to D.C. to a young kid. Over the course of over three minutes, the song teaches how a bill gets to be a law.

Schoolhouse Rock is such a celebrated piece of American pop culture. There have been many references to the show and particularly the David Frishberg songs and tunes. The musician will be missed by his family, friends, and loved ones, as well as multiple generations of curious young Americans.