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Tom Lehrer?

DigiTrad:
ALMA
BE PREPARED 2
BRIGHT COLLEGE DAYS
CHRISTMAS TIME
CLEMENTINE (2)
ELEPHANTS (The Force of Habit---ROUND)
FIGHT FIERCELY, HARVARD!
HUNTING SONG
I WANNA GO BACK TO DIXIE
I'LL HOLD YOUR HAND IN MINE
IN OLD MEXICO
LOBACHEVSKY
MASOCHISM TANGO
MY HOME TOWN
NEW MATH
OEDIPUS REX (2)
POISONING PIGEONS IN THE PARK
POLLUTION
PROUD TO BE A SOLDIER
SMUT
SO LONG, MOM
THE CHEMICAL ELEMENTS
THE FOLK SONG ARMY
THE FORMULARY SONG
THE IRISH BALLAD (RICKETY TICKETY TIN)
THE OLD DOPE PEDDLER
THE RED LINE SONG
THE WIENER SCHNITZEL WALTZ
THE WILD WEST IS WHERE I WANT TO BE
VATICAN RAG
WE WILL ALL GO TOGETHER WHEN WE GO
WERNHER VON BRAUN
WHEN YOU ARE OLD AND GREY


Related threads:
Chord Req: Oedipus Rex - Tom Lehrer (13)
Lyr Add: The Elements (Tom Lehrer) (34)
Lyr Req: In Old Mexico (Tom Lehrer) (7)
DT Correction: Lobachevsky (Tom Lehrer) (12)
Lyr/Chords Req: A Christmas Carol (Tom Lehrer) (4)
Lyr/Chords: Vatican Rag (Tom Lehrer) (6)
Lyr Add: When You Are Old and Grey (Gray) (4)
Tom Lehrer and his satire. The Best! (79)
Tom Lehrer- Your favorite song? What's he doing? (129)
Animation of Tom Lehrer's 'The Elements' (17)
Lyr Add: Folk Song Army (Tom Lehrer) (5)
Lyr Req: Decimalisation (Tom Lehrer) (40)
Online: Tom Lehrer The Physical Revue math songs (8)
Tune Req: I Hold Your Hand in Mine (Tom Lehrer) (3)
Tom Lehrer: Tomfoolery in Oz (11)
Tom Lehrer - Who's next? (16)
Happy! - Apr 9 (T Lehrer / P Robeson) (1)
Lyr Req: The Irish Ballad (Tom Lehrer) (10)
Lyr/Chords Req: Irish Ballad / Rickity Tickity Tin (11)
Lyr Add: Hunting Song (Tom Lehrer) (7)
Lyr/Chords Req: Songs by Tom Lehrer (16)
Lyr Add: National Brotherhood Week (Tom Lehrer) (5)
Lyr Add: MLF Lullaby (Tom Lehrer) (2)
Tom Lehrer, new material (28)
Lyr Req: Rickety Tickety Tin / The Irish Ballad (3)
Flanders & Swann, Tom Lehrer (21)
Tune Add: Poisoning Pigeons In The Park (T Lehrer) (8)
Tune Add: Masochism Tango (Tom Lehrer) (1)
Tune Add: Wernher Von Braun (Tom Lehrer) (8)


Charley Noble 24 Mar 10 - 09:53 PM
pdq 24 Mar 10 - 09:59 PM
GUEST 24 Mar 10 - 10:23 PM
Amos 24 Mar 10 - 10:28 PM
Booklynrose 24 Mar 10 - 10:45 PM
GUEST,MeliAlto 24 Mar 10 - 11:04 PM
KathyW 24 Mar 10 - 11:12 PM
Crowhugger 24 Mar 10 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,Gerry 25 Mar 10 - 12:20 AM
Nancy King 25 Mar 10 - 12:27 AM
GUEST, Stilly River Sage (sans cookie) 25 Mar 10 - 02:13 AM
Herga Kitty 25 Mar 10 - 03:40 AM
Dave MacKenzie 25 Mar 10 - 04:04 AM
Will Fly 25 Mar 10 - 04:47 AM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Mar 10 - 05:15 AM
Nigel Parsons 25 Mar 10 - 05:28 AM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Mar 10 - 05:33 AM
pavane 25 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM
NormanD 25 Mar 10 - 07:55 AM
Charley Noble 25 Mar 10 - 08:27 AM
Leadfingers 25 Mar 10 - 09:09 AM
SINSULL 25 Mar 10 - 09:21 AM
Acme 25 Mar 10 - 09:51 AM
George Papavgeris 25 Mar 10 - 09:59 AM
EnglishFolkfan 25 Mar 10 - 10:00 AM
Mr Happy 25 Mar 10 - 10:15 AM
Thomas Stern 25 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM
Leadfingers 25 Mar 10 - 11:01 AM
PHJim 25 Mar 10 - 11:37 AM
PoppaGator 25 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM
Joe_F 25 Mar 10 - 06:12 PM
Rowan 25 Mar 10 - 06:59 PM
Dave MacKenzie 25 Mar 10 - 07:04 PM
GUEST 25 Mar 10 - 07:08 PM
iancarterb 25 Mar 10 - 07:29 PM
Richard Mellish 25 Mar 10 - 07:30 PM
Rowan 25 Mar 10 - 08:31 PM
pavane 26 Mar 10 - 05:38 AM
manitas_at_work 26 Mar 10 - 07:34 AM
Liz the Squeak 26 Mar 10 - 08:22 AM
George Papavgeris 26 Mar 10 - 08:44 AM
pavane 26 Mar 10 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 26 Mar 10 - 11:33 AM
Liz the Squeak 26 Mar 10 - 12:48 PM
alanabit 26 Mar 10 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,Ken Brock 26 Mar 10 - 08:15 PM
Dave MacKenzie 26 Mar 10 - 08:23 PM
Stringsinger 27 Mar 10 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Gary Edelman 28 Mar 10 - 01:09 AM
BK Lick 28 Mar 10 - 03:24 AM
Leadfingers 28 Mar 10 - 06:57 AM
Charley Noble 28 Mar 10 - 12:13 PM
MoorleyMan 28 Mar 10 - 02:21 PM
Franz S. 29 Mar 10 - 09:41 AM
Charley Noble 29 Mar 10 - 09:29 PM
GUEST,Ken Brock 30 Mar 10 - 06:16 PM
Charley Noble 30 Mar 10 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Ken Brock 30 Mar 10 - 09:47 PM
GUEST,Ken Brock 30 Mar 10 - 10:22 PM
Desert Dancer 30 Apr 10 - 04:40 PM
EBarnacle 30 Apr 10 - 06:47 PM
mousethief 30 Apr 10 - 09:37 PM
GUEST,LaMarca'sOM 30 Apr 10 - 10:38 PM
Andrez 01 May 10 - 09:02 AM
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Subject: Tom Lehrer?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 09:53 PM

I don't suppose that many of us are aware that satirical songwriter Tom Lehrer was born way back in 1928, April 9th to be exact. I'd assumed that he was ten years older than myself, given that he was composing and recording such great songs in the late 1950's. But he's much older than that.

I also know that he taught mathematics at Harvard and Santa Barbara for years, and that he's gay but not a whole lot more. I do wonder if he actually is a time traveler, given the insights that are implicit in his songs. But most likely he is simply brilliant, able to leap tall paradigms (where did the "y" vanish in this word?) at a single bound.

We should figure out how to thank him for his songs, and for saving the universe.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: pdq
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 09:59 PM

I believe he tought at Harvard and at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The claim that he is gay sounds as bogus as the claim that Paul Clayton was gay.

Lehrer is brilliant, attending college at age 14 (if I recall from memory).


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 10:23 PM

Absolutely great. I remember my older brother listening to him when I was a kid. I have many of his songs and he was truly great.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Amos
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 10:28 PM

I have his songbook and a head full of memories of listening to hs recordings in my youth. I don't think it matters whether he is gay or not, but it would not surprise me.


A


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Booklynrose
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 10:45 PM

My recollection is that he was wildly popular as a singer and creator of topical songs, and that in the early or mid sixties he stopped performing and went back to teaching math. Did he also move to England, or was that another singing mathematician?


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,MeliAlto
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 11:04 PM

He also composed music for the PBS series 'The Electric Company' in the early 70s. I've read he pretty much stopped parodies because he could find nothing funny about either Vietnam or Watergate.

I love his songs and will occasionally sing 'The Hunting Song' to entertain myself.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: KathyW
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 11:12 PM

Oh my goodness, I remember checking his records out of the library when I was a kid and playing them endlessly! I'm sure it drove my parents nuts, but was probably a nice break from the John Denver albums they were otherwise subjected to. Since it was after most of Leher's songs were topical, it gave me a good reason to learn some recent history. When I was in high school, "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" was a popular recital piece among certain of my friends . . .

According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong!) he last taught at the University of California in Santa Cruz.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 11:18 PM

My fave is perhaps Vatican Rag then just about everything else runs a close second. Early in childhood I often saw my parents singing and laughing hysterically to his records. Yet I know nearly nothing about Lehrer himself.

~CH.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 12:20 AM

Much info at http://dmdb.org/lehrer/


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Nancy King
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 12:27 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed my parents' copy of Lehrer's original recording, as did they. I recall a sitting with a friend on our dock in Maine, dealing with our peeling sunburns and singing, "...and occasional pieces of skin, of skin..."   I was thrilled when he started writing songs for the TV series "That Was The Week That Was."

Back in the summer of 2000, on the occasion of the release of the 3-CD set, the Washington post had a fine article, which I tore out and saved, about Tom Lehrer. The headline is "For Songwriter Tom Lehrer, the Parody's Still Not Over." According to the article, he is (or was then) still a math professor, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts and teaching the winter semester in Santa Cruz, California. A few excerpts: "By all rights, his records should have long since vanished. The core of the collection, after all, was recorded nearly half a century ago in 1953 -- a famously underground 10-inch LP he produced himself and mailed out, copy by copy, from his Cambridge apartment. He's written almost nothing new since 1965.

"But against every possible sort of odds or prediction, his records have remained in distribution in one form or another from the beginning. To his whimsical delight, these have involved fewer than 50 songs selling more or less steadily -- 25,000 to 30,000 albums a year in recent decades -- for nearly half a century. More than 2 million have been sold in all, he says, but at a rate of growth 'more like herpes than Ebola.'" "...he has been deliciously rewarded by his song about rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and his Third Reich background.

   Don't say that he's hypocritical,
   Say rather that he's apolitical.
   "Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
   That's not my department,' says Wernher von Braun....

   'In German or English I know how to count down,
   Und I'm learning Chinese,' said Wernher von Braun.

"Some years ago, Lehrer says, von Braun's daughter applied to an Eastern college, and in the process of her admissions interview, she talked animatedly about her father. 'The admissions officer couldn't wait to call me afterward,' Lehrer remembers with an expression of puckish glee. 'The girl said her father had many interests other than rockets. At the moment he was teaching himself Chinese.'


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST, Stilly River Sage (sans cookie)
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 02:13 AM

I think I memorized them upon the first hearing. And my parents loved his songs. My dad performed several in his repertoire.

I corrupted my children at an early age by playing first a little Gilbert and Sullivan, and then a little Tom Lehrer, so they could see where some of it came from. But the sources are many and varied, aren't they?

My daughter (Moonglow) can sing The Elements full speed. I never managed to do that. I can come in on the last few syllables of any line. :)

I don't care if he's gay, straight, or has a harem. I'd love to spend time at a cocktail party with him at the piano, listening to his waggish observations of what is going on in science, politics, and the world today.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 03:40 AM

Tom Lehrer appeared on British TV on David Frost's show (the Frost Report) in the 1960s, as did Julie Felix. His songs have been sung in our folk clubs for several decades, and in fact Leadfingers sang Poisoning Pigeons in the Park at Herga last Monday!

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 04:04 AM

I first encountered Tom Lehrer when someone sang "The Irish Ballad" round the campfire in the Scouts.

Many years later, my daughter phoned me from Guildford to tell me that her first maths lecture at university had included playing "Lobachevsky".


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 04:47 AM

I played his songs over and over again, and still listen to them. They're all wonderful, and insanely clever. He was an excellent musician and, as well as a wordsmith, a clever parodist of musical styles. The Elements is an obvious tour de force, but I think one of my favourites is "Oedipus Rex" - 'who had a very, very strange complex - his name appears in Freud's index - 'cos he loved his mother...'


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 05:15 AM

Tom came to Australia, and was censored for - the boy scout song :-) Be Prepared! - if I remember correctly...

Aus ABC Radio interviewed him some years ago - it may still be on the ABC site somewhere - it was for years. (Found the transcript!)

QUOTE
hat whole controversy was before I arrived in 1959, about a year before I arrived. The Customs Department took it upon themselves to ban the record, which is very strange. But I gather the history was that somebody, a Queensland reviewer, Queensland aptly called... I believe it was called the Wowser Capital of Australia, I don't know, do they still use that term? But he called it to the attention of the Queensland Chairman of the Boy Scouts who also called it to the attention then of the Scout Commissioner, who declared -- I just happen to have the clip, I knew I was going to be talking to you so I dug this quote out: 'The Scout Commissioner, CV Dixon, declared 'It's a rotten record. The song does not advise Boy Scots to be prepared at all in terms of the famous Scout slogan, in fact it tells Boy Scouts to get ready for things that are immoral, it makes an obscenity out of the high ideals of scouting.' You can imagine that made me very proud.
UNQUOTE


Tom Lehrer Interview Transcript


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 05:28 AM

Puts a whole new meaning to the Customs question "Do you have a criminal record"!

Now I've got a criminal record (Be Prepared)
& a Police record (Walking on the Moon)

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 05:33 AM

His complete collected Cd set, which is mentioned in the transcript was on sale here and got a copy for a friend :-)

Think it is still available!


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: pavane
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM

There is (or was) a video of him in his early days, singing "Poisoning Pigeons", on Youtube - sorry I don't have the link. It must have come from a film in the 50's I suppose


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: NormanD
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:55 AM

His topical songs of forty / fifty plus years back are still relevant, and as humourous today. "Send The Marines" is a musical backdrop to any US military intervention / invasion; "Pollution" may have been one of the first eco-songs; "The Masochism Tango" - who knew what it meant, back then, let alone sang about it?

I bet "The Folk Song Army" might get up a few noses around these parts too.

I like this bit from Wikipedia:

'In 2003 he commented that his particular brand of political satire is more difficult in the modern world: "The real issues I don't think most people touch. The Clinton jokes are all about Monica Lewinsky and all that stuff and not about the important things, like the fact that he wouldn't ban land mines... I'm not tempted to write a song about George W. Bush. I couldn't figure out what sort of song I would write. That's the problem: I don't want to satirise George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporize them." '


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 08:27 AM

I believe his songbook is also still available, filled with sophisticated musical notation. And it has a wonderful cover illustration.

My brother and I always enjoyed singing his nuclear family revival song "We All Go Together when We Go."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:09 AM

There are you Tube and all sorts HERE

And Thanks for the plug Kitty !


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: SINSULL
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:21 AM

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs.
Yeah, but we regard 'em with scorn.
The folks who sing 'em have no social conscience.
Why they don't even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don't have to be clever,
And it don't matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain't good English,
And it don't even gotta rhyme--excuse me--rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That's the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Acme
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:51 AM

Over the years his songs have been used to introduce topical news stories. I recall hearing clips of "Pollution" and "Smut" come across the National Public Radio airwaves.

I agree with Will Fly about his musical prowess. And a great example of his dexterity is in the show piece "Clementine," in which he shows you the different styles that might approach the song.

He was very good on his 88-strong "folk instrument."

I have to get that disk out and give it a listen. I have little fragments of ear worms running through my head. Might as well set them free and see what lodges in place for a while! :)

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:59 AM

He is my God of Rhymes.
Anyone who pairs off "quickening" with "strychnine"
or "Plaza del Toros" with "morose",
"Manolete" with "eighty",
"benzendrine" with "dean"

and creates magic like this
"That I missed her depressed her young sister named Esther,
This mister to pester she tried.
Now her pestering sister's a festering blister,
You're best to resist her, say I
"

stands way above mere mortals.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: EnglishFolkfan
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 10:00 AM

Loved Tom Lehrer from 1st hearing him back in the 50's as a Primary schoolchild listening to his records on the family radiogram, the whole family G'parents to toddlers were Gilbert & Sullivan fans too & also Victor Borge, Flanders & Swan, Peter Sellers etc which meant we moved on to That was the week that was, Beyond the Fringe etc with great delight.

Never saw Tom on stage but did see Victor & the Fringe ... heady days of early UK satire

Like Stilly River Sage above & in the family tradition I introduced my lad to the same musical wordsmith comedic delights from a young age: He asked to see Pirate of Penzance live for his 5th Birthday treat & he later on got "Be Prepared" into the fave campfire songs of his Scout Group.

Lyrics, soundtracks & videos are available all over the wonder of the web & for those with access to Spotify Tom is there (understand @Spotify is heading to the US .... you over there are in for a BIG treat = masses of Folk etc inc all Smithsonian Folkways)


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 10:15 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKbd_Ajkex0


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM

FYI A CD/DVD collection will be released April 13 2010 on
the Shout Factory label. Priced as a single CD.
Track list below.
Best wishes, Thomas.

Disc: 1 (CD)
1. Fight Fiercely, Harvard
2. Lobachevsky
3. The Irish Ballad
4. When You Are Old And Gray
5. Be Prepared
6. The Elements
7. We Will All Go Together When We Go
8. National Brotherhood Week
9. Pollution
10. So Long, Mom (A Song For World War III)
11. New Math
12. Who's Next?
13. Smut
14. Wernher von Braun
15. The Vatican Rag
16. I Got It From Agnes
17. That's Mathematics
18. L-Y
19. Silent E
20. O-U (The Hound Song)
21. S-N (Snore, Sniff, And Sneeze)
22. N Apostrophe T
23. Selling Out
24. (I'm Spending) Hanukkah In Santa Monica
25. Poisoning Pigeons In The Park
26. The Masochism Tango

Disc: 2 (DVD)
1. National Brotherhood Week(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
2. When You Are Old And Gray(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
3. MLF Lullaby(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
4. Poisoning Pigeons In The Park(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
5. So Long Mom (A Song for World War III)(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
6. Pollution(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
7. The Masochism Tango(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
8. Send The Marines(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
9. Who's Next?(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
10. Wernher von Braun(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
11. The Vatican Rag(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
12. We Will All Go Together When We Go(VIDEO Live in Oslo, 1967)
13. I Got It From Agnes (1980) (VIDEO-Bonus Track Live in Oslo, 1967)
14. Poisoning Pigeons In The Park (1998)(VIDEO-Bonus Track Live in Oslo, 1967)
15. Four animated clips from The Electric Company:1) L-Y2) Silent E 3) O-U (The Hound Song)4) S-N (Snore, Sniff, And Sneeze)(VIDEO-Bonus Track Live in Oslo, 1967)
16. The Derivative Song (1997)(VIDEO-Bonus Track Live in Oslo, 1967)
17. That's Mathematics (1997)(VIDEO-Bonus Track Live in Oslo, 1967)


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 11:01 AM

Thyat looks interesting I will have a look at Shout Factory


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: PHJim
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 11:37 AM

I discovered Tom Lehrer in the sixties when my math teacher played the New Math song for us. We talked him into playing a few more songs and the whole period was spent on Tom Lehrer instead of math.
When Maggie and I married and merged our record collection, I became the co-owner of 2 Tom Lehrer albums. Two years ago I bought her the CD/book coleection for her birthday and we became re-acquainted with Tom Lehrer.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM

I was introduced to Tom Lehrer by a friend of my parents, undoubtedly the most brilliant adult I ever encountered before going off to college. (And maybe the smartest person I ever met, without exception.)

Harlan Herrick married one of my mom's girlfriends after he had graduated from Yale and had won some kind of national intercollegiate chess championship, and was working at IBM as the team leader of the group that was writing FORTRAN, arguably the world's first computer-programming language. He was also being treated for manic depression (what is now known as bipolar disorder), and would eventually die by his own hand.

Anyway, the guy could really play the piano and sing quite well, with tremendous enthusiasm, and his very favorite songs were all from the Tom Lehrer songbook. And he delighted in "scandalizing" me and my younger siblings, performing this stuff that we would never have heard at home.

I absolutely loved the songs, and read his songbook cover to cover. Fifty-plus years later, I can still visualize some of the cartoon-illustrations (specifically, The Old Dope Peddler at his park bench under a street lamp, the boy scouts on the page with Be Prepared,...)


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Joe_F
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 06:12 PM

The first of his songs I heard was the Irish Ballad, sung by a fellow highschool student in the back of a truck, ca. 1954, without mention of his name. You cannot imagine what a breath of fresh air it seemed in the middle of the Stuffy '50s! But N.B., despite the animadversions in "The Folk Song Army" & "Clementine", he was already in the folk tradition.

Later that year, my mother gave me his first record as a graduation present, and I took it to Caltech with me. I still have it. I know all the songs on it, in order.

My mother & I once visited her friend Maurice Samuel, a well-known writer on Jewish subjects, and she played that record for him. He sniffed at it, saying it lacked moral content. I said, but isn't he clever & funny? He replied that he had heard better -- which he probably had, being familiar with the European cabaret & music-hall traditions. Such an immigrant might well ignore the stuffiness of the Stuffy '50s.

Around 1967, I heard on the radio a priceless interview (in English) with the German press magnate Axel Springer. He behaved just like the stereotypical Tactless German. He had set it up like a presidential press conference, so that the assembled reporters had to vie for his attention by shouting "Herr Springer!". One of them asked him if it bothered him to have been called a Nazi. Not at all, he replied, and then added "Nazi, Schmazi, as your American folksinger put it." Observe: Lehrer invents a deliberately tactless remark & foists it on von Braun for satirical purposes; Springer picks it up & makes it his own, at the same time managing to call Lehrer a folksinger. %^)

A few years ago I happened to be shopping in Cambridge on the day of the Harvard-Yale game, and the Harvard band marched past on JFK St. They played "Fight Fiercely, Harvard", which was sporting of them.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Rowan
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 06:59 PM

In 1958 someone in my class had a copy of his record; we all learned Lobachevsky first, but I still occasionally sing "Twas a year ago November...."; my daughters gave me the boxed set of CDs and promptly ripped the entire contents onto their iPods and started learning them.

Was it he who commented to the effect that, when Kissinger got the Nobel Peace prize, there was no longer any room for satire?

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:04 PM

I believe it was.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:08 PM

To this day, whenever I see footage on TV of either bullfights or the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, I can't help but look at the bulls and think of them as '600 pounds of angry pot roast'. Amid all of Lehrer's brilliance, that simple phrase has stuck with me.

As well as this one:

No more ashes, no more sackcloth
And an armband made of black cloth
Will one day never more adorn a sleeve.
For when the bomb that falls on you
Gets your friends and neighbors too,
There'll be nobody left behind to grieve.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: iancarterb
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:29 PM

Tom Lehrer sang the only songs not written by W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan that my EXTREMELY conservative parents and all three of their godless-communist-dope-crazed children ALL laughed at and knew by heart. I seem to recall that Lehrer quit performing after Henry Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize, out of fury and deep sadness that he could not top that irony. I have performed half a dozen of the songs over the last fifty odd years, and I observe occasionally that the kids at my (now 25ish) daughter's elementary school still sing The Hunting Song with great enthusiasm.
And if he was born in 1928 he's only 82- not VERY old, dammit! :)
    Carter


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:30 PM

I was already familiar with some of Lehrer's songs on record when I went with my mother and a friend of hers to see him perform live in London. We had not heard The Vatican Rag before and it had us helpless with laughter.

I have on tape two verses of a song that AFAIK never made it onto any of the recordings, concerning the time when the NZ Rugby team was due to visit South Africa (in the Apartheid era), some people were arguing that no such visit should take place, and the NZ Prime Minister made a pronouncement that completely missed the point. That song might perhaps have seemed ephemeral, but a not-dissimilar situation arose much more recently, concerning the England cricket team's proposed visit to Zimbabwe, so I pulled out the Lehrer song at Sharp's Folk Club.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Rowan
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 08:31 PM

So, pull it out again, Richard.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: pavane
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 05:38 AM

George missed one of his finest rhymes: (We'll all go together when we go)

You may think it very tragic
Not to mention other ajec-
tives

Brilliance!

And there have been many Chemistry students who attribute their exam success to The Elements


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:34 AM

REally LTS on the sofa can't be bothered to log out....

Like many others, I came to Tom Lehrer, via 'The Irish Ballad' and possibly hearing the odd song on the Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart programme on the radio every weekend as I was growing up (which is how I discovered Flanders and Swann but that's another story).

The songbook I have is 'Too many songs and not enough pictures' by Tom Lehrer and Gerald Scarfe - recommeded for any Lehrer fan.

I've been looking out for a difinitive collection of his songs (I'm missing my favourites 'Vatican Rag' and 'I gave it to Agnes') so I'll check out the link, thanks Leadfingers!

I've corrupted Limpit with his works too... but does anyone else remember hearing Bill Oddie (the hairy one from the Goodies) on 'I'm sorry I'll read that again' singing his own version of 'Poisoning pigeons', called 'Persecuting Pigeons in Trafalgar Square' or is it just me?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 08:22 AM

OOpsie - not Gerald Scarfe but Ronald Searle - artist. I always get those two muddled.

But at £16.49 from AmazonUK, the 'Tom Lehrer Collection' is considerably more than a single CD price... especially considering it's only $14 from Shout - did someone shift the exchange rate whilst I wasn't looking?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 08:44 AM

You're right Pavane - he's got so many to choose from! He is totally fearless and ruthless when it came to rhyming.When so many of us are driven by the "look" of the word/syllables in picking rhymes or scanning a thesaurus, he is guided by sound alone and lets his rich imagination fly laterally.

And his humour - so caustic amd merciless, especially when you consider the times. One of my favourite lines, which doesn't sound funny until you hear him growl it full of lascivious innuendo, from Oedipus Rex: "...'cause he LOVED his mother!"


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: pavane
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 11:28 AM

For some cultural reason, that probably has more impact in the US than the UK


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 11:33 AM

A person of such intellectual brilliance and penetrating wit could be pansexual for all I care.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 12:48 PM

It was 'the guy who's got religion'll, tell you if your sin's original' did it for me...

TLS


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: alanabit
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 03:35 PM

I had heard Fred Wedlock's version of "Vatican Rag" and Paul Downes and Phil Beer doing "Masochism Tango". So I went out and invested a couple of quid in "An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer". It was money very well invested. The other recordings quickly followed into my collection. The only other songwriter who made me laugh nearly as much was Shel Silverstein. Other than the Jewish names and the fact that they both wrote funny songs, they had little in common. Lehrer had the sharper rhymes and crueller satirical edge while Silverstein cast an affectionate eye over the absurdities of a series of oddballs and outcasts. In any event, I agree with all the tributes to Lehrer, which have preceeded this post. He is absolutely unique.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,Ken Brock
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 08:15 PM

I am a frequent contributor to the Tom Lehrer forum at:

Tom Lehrer forum


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 08:23 PM

At some point Bill Oddie's greatest hit will turn up on BBC7 as they're repeating "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" again on Thursdays. Not as good as the Lehrer original, but it has its own place in history as the small but perfectly formed BO is now the front man for the RSPB.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 05:55 PM

He taught at M.I.T. and Santa Cruz. He is an authority on the American Musical Theater.
He teaches classes in it. He met Steven Sondheim at summer camp. I think there is a music/lyric connection somehow there.

My understanding is that he stopped writing songs because what he was writing about
came to pass and he no longer considered these events funny any more.

Also, music was a fling. He produced his own recordings, wrote his own songs, played piano accompaniment for them, did well in the music field and got bored with it. Can't blame him Although I was never bored or had a time wasted with his brilliance.
He likes math a little better and is an accomplished instructor. A math class with Lehrer
should be great fun.

His song Lobachevsky about the mathematician is modeled after "Lady In the Dark" as a patter song "Tchaikovsky" sung by Danny Kaye.

When it comes to the music biz, I think he would be the first to tell you:

"What goes up must come down.....says Werner Von Braun"


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,Gary Edelman
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 01:09 AM

Tom Lehrer is still teaching part time at UC Santa Cruz.
Not only in math but in the theatre dept. A mathematician
aquaintance told me his daughter, then a student at UCSC had
just switched majors to math, after taking a theatre course
with Lehrer


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: BK Lick
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 03:24 AM

Preview of the forthcoming DVD


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 06:57 AM

Last I heard was "The Chair of Mathematics and Music Hall"


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 12:13 PM

Gary-

Thanks for the update that Lehrer is still teaching at UC Santa Cruz. Nice to know.

Stringsinger-

"My understanding is that he stopped writing songs because what he was writing about
came to pass and he no longer considered these events funny any more."

So true!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 02:21 PM

The Bill Oddie song in question appears in episode 8 of the 1968 series - look out for the priceless El Budgerigar sequence in the same show (that is, if the b******s haven't decided to broadcast the World service transcription edition instead, which omits some items).
However, I don't know which series of ISIRTA is being re-broadcast on 7 at the moment, and have no DAB radio so I can't hear it... most frustrating...


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Franz S.
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 09:41 AM

I think it was in the winter of 1993-94. My youngest daughter was a freshman (person?) in her first year at UC Santa Cruz. She called home and said that she'd just had lunch with some friends and a nice old man who did musical comedy. She said he also taught math. I explained to her who he was, and when she came home I played for her the LP my parents had bought back in 195what? Then we went to the presentation of "Guys and Dolls" that he produced (I think). A very happy memory. And it gave me some cred with the daughter.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 09:29 PM

Franz-

Nice to know that another generation connected with this incredible time-traveler. And nice to know that he still walks this earth.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,Ken Brock
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:16 PM

Tom Lehrer retired from UCSC circa 2006. I was able to visit him briefly in Santa Cruz in June, 2007.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 09:43 PM

Ken-

I don't suppose we could entice him to post on Mudcat?

I know I would like to thank him for his creative work.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,Ken Brock
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 09:47 PM

He was aware of my posts at:

Tom Lehrer forum

so I expects he checks it occasionally, but don't expect him to post there.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,Ken Brock
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 10:22 PM

Besides his own songs, Tom Lehrer had a hand in popularizing (and in one case improving) at least two of the other satirical songs of the late 1950's. He performed Sheldon Harnick's "Merry Little Minuet" at a bill shared with The Kingston Trio in 1958 and they went on to include it on their second album (it had previously been only on Charlotte Rae's Songs I Taught My Mother lp.) Somewhere along the way, it lost the "Little" in the title, an introduction, and mention of Siberia and Switzerland, all of which are on Harnick's recording on DRG.

Tom Lehrer also performer the Pober-Freeman "Gunslinger" in a bill shared with the Limeliters, and they went on to record it. It originally (as on Katie Lee's Songs of Couch and Consultation) had a repeated line. Lehrer improved the song by changing the second (repeated) line to "Did you come from a broken...home on the range?"


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 04:40 PM

A review on NPR'S Fresh Air of "The Tom Lehrer Collection", produced by Shout Factory, which describes it in the following way:

"The Tom Lehrer Collection is Tom Lehrer's first-ever hits collection, containing highlights from across his 40-year-long recording career. Fans are treated to material from his live albums for Reprise (An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer and Revisited), That Was the Year That Was, early-'70s material recorded for The Electric Company, radio performances, a rare 1960 single and more. This collection also contains his first-ever DVD, featuring a slew of unreleased performances, including a complete 1967 Oslo concert, animated clips from The Electric Company, and other TV performances."

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 06:47 PM

Speak of people while they live. They cannot respond after they're gone.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: mousethief
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 09:37 PM

This sucks. I have the box set and it contains 2/3 of this stuff -- so I'll have to buy this new collection to get the 1/3 I don't already have, paying the extra price to get the 2/3 I already do. I hate record companies.


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: GUEST,LaMarca'sOM
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 10:38 PM

I was introduced to Lehrer at age 8(?) in 195? when my brother brought home "An Evening Wasted..." from Harvard. I knew I had to marry Mary when she sang "The Elements" at a FSGW open sing. (I subsequently learned and sang Steve Goodman's "The Dying Cub Fan's Last Request". -- George


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Subject: RE: Tom Lehrer?
From: Andrez
Date: 01 May 10 - 09:02 AM

I love Tom Lehrer's songs, poetry and rhyme like the posters above too and have done so ever since I heard my first Tom Lehrer song Vatican Rag. So in the spirit of that song I thought I'd pass on one of my favourite ecumenical jokes along with a couple of afterthoughts that are also loosley in the tradition of Toms humour.

> A rabbi and a Catholic priest are having lunch in a restaurant. The priest's food arrives, a scrumptious-looking ham entrée. The priest attacks his lunch, savouring every bite of the ham. Noticing the rabbi eyeing him, he asks, "So tell me, Rabbi Goldblum, have you ever had any pork before?" The rabbi hesitates. "Well, it's not for me to say..." The priest pushes on. "Oh, c'mon, Rabbi. We're both men of God here. We can tell each other our sins. Nothing to it." "Umm... well, yes, as a matter of fact, I did have pork once." Smugly the priest teases him, "And a fine meat it was, wasn't it? Heheh." "Yeah, I'll say." A few moments pass. The rabbi asks the priest: "Tell me Father, have you ever had sex with a woman before?" "Why of course... well, before I took holy orders, that is." The rabbi smirks, "Sure beat the taste of pork, didn't it?"

or

> A boy comes home from school and tells his mother he got a part in the school play. "That's wonderful!" says the mother, "Which part?" "The part of a Jewish husband," says the boy, proudly. Frowning, the mother says, "Go back and tell them you want a speaking role!"

or

> Is one Nobel Prize so much to ask from a child after all I've done?

or

> "Sarah, how's that boy of yours?"
    "David? Ach, don't ask - he's living in Hawaii with a man named Miguel"
    "That's terrible!"
    "I know - why couldn't he find a nice Jewish boy?

Cheers,

Andrez


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