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Dorothy Collins

Dorothy Collins - Experiment Songs

Experiment Songs
Motivation - 1961

Michael Panontin
In the late fifties, songwriters Lou Singer and Hy Zaret conceived of a series of educational LPs to teach curious kids about the wonders of modern science. The six recordings were sheathed in fascinatingly futuristic covers (by well-known children's illustrator Leo Lionni) and sported names like Space Songs, Weather Songs, Nature Songs, and the like. The third volume in the series featured Windsor-born TV star Dorothy Collins backed by a small orchestra singing about magnets, the earth's rotation, rainbows and, in what would seem almost surreal to today's smartphone-toting kids, a chirpy little tune called 'What's Inside Our Earth?' that finds the former star of Our Hit Parade singing lines like 'You could dig from here to China / if you could dig through the ground...but you can't!" Useful knowledge, it seems, for all those future NASA scientists.

Lest you think that these records never got past the lunchroom shoptalk of grade 3 teachers, noted sci-fi author Isaac Asimov was moved enough at the time to mention them in an essay ('Catskills in the Sky') he wrote for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, in which he recounts the story of how he gave his children a copy of Space Songs as a gift, only to later appropriate it to his own collection because he liked one of the songs so much. And hipsters of a certain age will probably remember a couple of tracks on They Might Be Giants' 2009 album Here Comes Science, where the veteran indie-rockers deliver grizzled versions of Singer and Zaret's 'What Is a Shooting Star?' and 'Why Does the Sun Shine?'. Even weirder, the whole lot was reissued as a 6-CD box set in 2013 on Harbinger Records. Go figure.


     Dorothy Collins

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