“Be Prepared To Hold Your Liquor Pretty Well…Don’t Write Dirty Words on Walls If You Can’t Spell!”

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Tom Lehrer recently turned 81 years old.  Now, he was no Spring Chicken when a friend introduced me to his satirical songs over 30 years ago.  Most of his songs were already 10 years old when I heard them!  We used to sit in the eaves of our terrible high school auditorium, playing the albums (33 1/3!!) on old phonographs, singing along.  We thought we were so witty…

Many of his songs are quite dated now…I’m thinking of

“So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III),” a song about simultaneous nuclear bombardment, thus ending life as we know it.  It’s dated because, well, the way we approach conflict has changed in the last 40 years.

Whatever Became of Hubert,” a lament for the then-sitting Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey.

“The MLF Lullaby,”  and not that is not a typo.  MLF stands for Multi-Lateral Force, an peacekeeping/warmongering idea that the US wanted NATO to support (it depends on your point of view, I guess).

“Alma,” his homage to Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel who had recently died when Lehrer wrote this song.  You must read the tongue-in-cheek intro on the right of the YouTube screen before hitting play.  Lehrer voices the intro on the CD, but it’s missing from this video.  

I still find myself humming “The Old Dope Peddler” and “New Math” from time to time.

This is a song I like to sing as the warm weather returns to the northeast:  You Tube: Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

This one was broadcast in 1980 on British television and is just witty fun:  You Tube: I Got it from Agnes

I managed to find all of his albums on CDs a few years ago.  

Happy Belated Birthday, Tom!  Thanks for all the fun.

May 11th, 2009

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