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St. Paul Native Dave Frishberg, Jazz Songwriter Who Wrote For 'Schoolhouse Rock,' Dies At 88

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- If the name Dave Frishberg isn't necessarily a household word these days, one of the songs he wrote certainly resides in the memory banks of most boomers and Gen X'ers.

Frishberg, born in St. Paul, died Wednesday at the age of 88. Frishberg's death was confirmed to the New York Times by his widow, April Magnusson. The newspaper reports that his father owned a clothing store and his mother was a native-born Minnesotan.

He attended St. Paul Central High School and the University of Minnesota before making a name for himself on the Twin Cities jazz scene. Eventually he moved to the east coast.

As a songwriter, the NYT emphasized that Frishberg didn't hop trends, instead focusing on the traditions of Johnny Mercer or Frank Loesser ("Baby It's Cold Outside"), penning songs that were both highly literate as well as drenched in irony. One of his earlier splashes was a tongue-in-cheek attack on currency, "I'm Hip."

Schoolhouse Rock I'm Just A Bill
(credit: Kari Rene Hall/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

His most famed works, though, were the tunes he contributed to the Saturday morning animated interstitials for "Schoolhouse Rock," which featured visuals locked firmly in the '70s but music that transcended its era. He was the creator for what was likely the series' signature ditty, "I'm Just A Bill" (seen in the video above).

Among the storied artists he has accompanied include Carmen McRae, Gene Krupa, Anita O'Day, and even fellow Minnesota native Judy Garland.

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