The first time I heard this song, I must have been maybe nine or ten? The older brother of a friend of mine owned the record. He brought it over and played it for me. I loved it.
I borrowed the record and memorized it. Including the tritone that is extremely hard to sing. Somehow, I feel it needs a broader audience today.
I’m pretty sure you’ll understand why.
As the weird, right-wing Christians endlessly complain about how they can’t say “Merry Christmas,” while the rest of us try to keep our heads low and avoid getting bombarded by Christmas? For us, there is Tom Lehrer and a few songs to make us smile.
Let us not forget that “other” seasonal holiday, Hanukkah. Although it is not one of the major holidays of the Jewish calendar, it’s relative (depending on the Jewish Lunar calendar which moves the holidays around in a thoroughly un-Christian way) proximity to Christmas has given it an undeserved prominence. And for that, there’s still Tom Lehrer.
May your season be joyful if you celebrate and sane, regardless. It’s a holiday. Enjoy it, ignore it, or sing your heart out.
What is nearly tragic is even though these were written more than 50 years ago, they are maybe even more relevant now. We don’t learn easily, do we?
And who better than Tom Lehrer?
And finally, there’s Monty Python: “”What have you got to lose, y’know? You come from nothing, you go back to nothing. What’ve you lost? Nothing!”
No one said it better than Tom Lehrer and now, he’s going to sing it again. For me and you and all of us. Trace element. Elements.
All the elements. In song. With a piano. Thanks, Tom! Excuse me. That would be Dr. Lehrer.
CONVERSANT AGAIN – NATIONAL BROTHERHOOD WEEK AND CELEBRATING WORLD WAR THREE – IN ADVANCE (WE WON ‘T HAVE TIME, LATER)
Way back in the dark ages, the third week in February (an otherwise dreary and neglected month) was designated National Brotherhood Week. As designated special weeks go, it was never a big hit with the general public. In the 1980s, it disappeared completely. Probably because it failed to sell greeting cards. Which is probably the point of such created events.
The National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ) came up with the idea of National Brotherhood Week in 1934. Given the current political climate, maybe we can agree more brotherhood year round would be an improvement. Sadly, we no longer have even that one, measly week.
February is now Black History Month which seems to mean movie channels run films featuring non-white stars. Unless you watch PBS or the History Channel where you might see a documentary or two.
The man who took it seriously — even in the old days — as he took all politics seriously, was Tom Lehrer. He taught math at Hahvid (Harvard, if you aren’t from around here). He didn’t write a lot of songs since he, till his dying day (which hasn’t occurred yet as he’s alive and living in California), thought of himself as a math teacher who wrote silly songs. Not as an entertainer.
Despite this unfair self-assessment, I’ve always felt Tom got this particular holiday dead to rights. Ya’ think?
He got a lot of stuff right. Check him out on YouTube. He only wrote about 50 songs and most of them are posted in some video or other. Me? I’ve got the CDs. (Remember CDs?)
And because the news has been so … fraught … I thought I’d add a couple of more shockingly relevant songs for this day in February, 2018.
My, how times have not really changed — except we really do have colored TV pretty much everywhere!