BearCY = Bear
1. Introduction (3:27)
2. I Wanna Go Back to Dixie (2:56)
3. The Wild West is Where I Want to Be (2:31)
4. The Old Dope Peddler (1:42)
5. Fight Fiercely, Harvard (2:41)
6. Lobachevsky (4:19)
7. The Irish Ballad (5:13)
8. The Hunting Song (1:59)
9. My Home Town (2:58)
10. When You are Old and Grey (2:27)
11. The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz (2:21)
12. I Hold Your Hand in Mine (1:55)
13. Be Prepared (2:39)
14. Poisoning Pigeons in the Park (2:38)
15. Bright College Days (3:03)
16. A Christmas Carol (2:54)
17. The Elements (2:16)
18. Œdipus Rex (3:41)
19. In Old Mexico (6:26)
20. Clementine (4:40)
21. It Makes A Fellow Proud to be a Soldier (4:50)
22. She's My Girl (2:53)
23. The Masochism Tango (3:30)
24. We Will All Go Together When We Go (5:32)
National Brotherhood Week (2:35)
26. MLF Lullaby (2:25)
27. George Murphy (2:08)
28. The Folk Song Army (2:12)
29. Smut (3:15)
30. Send the Marines (1:46)
31. Pollution (2:17)
32. So Long, Mom (2:23)
33. Whatever Became of Hubert? (2:13)
34. New Math (4:28)
35. Who's Next? (2:00)
36. Alma (5:27)
37. Wernher von Braun (1:46)
38. The Vatican Rag (2:14)
I should like to introduce now the featured artist of this evening's…ordeal. I'm sure that you will all agree without any hesitation that Tom Lehrer is the most brilliant creative genius that America has produced in almost 200 years, so perhaps a few words of biographical background might not be amiss. Endowed by nature with perhaps the most glorious baritone voice to be heard on an American stage since the memorable concert debut in 1835 of Millard Fillmore; endowed also with twelve incredibly agile fingers; Mr. Lehrer has had a long and varied career in the field of entertainment starting with nine years at Harvard University…where it was that he first decided to devote his life to what has since become a rather successful scientific project—namely, the attempt to prolong adolescence beyond all previous limits.
Even before he came to Harvard, however, he was well known in academic circles for his masterly translation into Latin of The Wizard of Oz1, which remains even today the standard Latin version of that work. A few years ago he was inducted…forcibly…into the United States Army and spent most of his indenture in Washington as sort of Army liaison to the Office of Naval Contemplation. About his service record he is justifiably… modest, but it is known that in a short time he rose to the rank of brigadier general. However, before he could acquire a tenure, he was discharged, and owing to nepotism and intrigue, he emerged with only the rank of Specialist 3rd Class, which was roughly equivalent to the rank of Corporal without Portfolio.
But to return to his career in show business: for several years he toured vaudeville theaters with an act consisting of impressions of people in the last throes of various diseases. I'm sure that many of you here tonight still recall with pleasure his memorable diphtheria imitation. He is generally acknowledged to be the dean of living American composers, and is currently working on a musical comedy based on the life of Adolf Hitler2. Without further ado—Tom Lehrer…
(The Announcer sits down at the piano, revealing himself to be Tom)
You'd be amazed at the money we save that way.
1 As of 1987, such a thing actually exists. Click here for details.
2 An idea later co-opted by Mel Brooks for The Producers.
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Well, what I like to do on formal occasions like this is to take some of the various types of songs that we all know and presumably love, and, as it were, to kick them when they're down. I find that if you take the various popular song forms to their logical extremes, you can arrive at almost anything from the ridiculous to the obscene, or—as they say in New York—«sophisticated». I'd like to illustrate with several hundred examples for you this evening, first of all, the southern type song about the wonders of the American south. But it's always seemed to me that most of these songs really don't go far enough. The following song, on the other hand, goes too far. It's called I Wanna Go Back To Dixie.
I wanna go back to Dixie,
Take me back to dear ol' Dixie,
That's the only li'l ol' place for li'l ol' me.
Old times there are not forgotten,
Whuppin' slaves and sellin' cotton,
And waitin' for the Robert E. Lee.
(It was never there on time.)
I'll go back to the Swanee,
Where pellagra makes you scrawny,
And the honeysuckle clutters up the vine.1
I really am a-fixin'
To go home and start a-mixin'
Down below that Mason-Dixon line.
Oh, poll tax2,
How I love ya, how I love ya,
My dear ol' poll tax.
Won'tcha come with me to Alabammy,
Back to the arms of my dear ol' Mammy,
Her cookin's lousy and her hands are clammy,
But what the hell, it's home.
Yes, for paradise the Southland is my nominee.
Jes' give me a ham hock and a grit of hominy.
I wanna go back to Dixie,
I wanna be a Dixie pixie
And eat corn pone3 till it's comin' outta my ears.4
I wanna talk with Southern gentlemen
And put that white sheet on again,5
I ain't seen one good lynchin' in years.
The land of the boll weevil,
Where the laws are medieval,
Is callin' me to come and nevermore roam.
I wanna go back to the Southland,
That «y'all» and «shet-ma-mouth» land,
Be it ever so decadent,
There's no place like home.
1 In live performances, Lehrer occasionally varied the lyrics of some of his songs. It is reported that this line was sometimes sung as:
«And the jasmine and the tear gas smell just fine».
2 After the Civil War, many Southern states enacted a Poll Tax, as a way of preventing poor blacks from voting. This lasted until the passage of the 24th Amendment in 1964.
3 Corn Pone: corn bread often made without milk or eggs and baked or fried
4 In some live performances, the beginning of this verse was sung as:
I wanna start relaxin' Down in Birmingham or Jackson When we're havin' fun, why no one interferes.
This was a reference to separate events that occurred in 1962 and 1963. In 1962, James Meredith was the first black person allowed to enroll at the University of Mississippi in Jackson, but the presence of the National Guard was required to ensure that he was actually able to attend. In 1963, police in Birmingham, Alabama used fire hoses and dogs to break up a demonstration being carried out by Martin Luther King and several other ministers.
5 In the studio version of this song, the line is:
«And put my white sheet on again.»
Lehrer Comments: «I Wanna Go Back to Dixie was a crowd pleaser in the 1950s because one associated that kind of bigotry with the South. Now the North is just as bad, so it doesn't really make much sense any more.»—-1996 Interview
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Now if I may indulge in a bit of personal history, a few years ago I worked for a while at the Los Alamos scientific laboratory in New Mexico. I had a job there as a spy. No, I guess you know that the staff out there at that time was composed almost exclusively of spies…of one persuasion or another. And, while I was out there, I came to realize how much the Wild West had changed since the good old days of Wyatt Earp and Home on the Range, and here then is a modern cowboy ballad commemorating that delightful metamorphosis, called «The Wild West Is Where I Wanna Be».
Along the trail you'll find me lopin' Where the spaces are wide open, In the land of the old A.E.C.1 Yee-hoo! Where the scenery's attractive, And the air is radioactive, Oh, the Wild West is where I wanna be. 'Mid the sagebrush and the cactus I'll watch the fellows practice Droppin' bombs through the clean desert breeze. A-ha! I'll have on my sombrero, And of course I'll wear a pair o' Levis over my lead B.V.D.'s.2 I will leave the city's rush, Leave the fancy and the plush, Leave the snow and leave the slush And the crowds. I will seek the desert's hush, Where the scenery is lush, How I long to see the mush-room clouds. 'Mid the yuccas and the thistles I'll watch the guided missiles, While the old F.B.I. watches me. Yee-hoo! Yes, I'll soon make my appearance (Soon as I can get my clearance), 'Cause the Wild West is where I wanna be.
1 Atomic Energy Commission
2 An old expression for men's underwear, taken from the acronym of the company •Bradley, Voorhees & Day», today known as Fruit of the Loom.
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You are no doubt familiar with songs about the old lamplighter, and the old umbrella man, and the old garbage collector, and all these lovable old characters who go around spreading sweetness and light to their respective communities. But, it's always seemed to me that there is one member of this happy band who does an equally splendid job, but who has never been properly recognized in song or story, and this is an attempt to remedy, at least in part, that deplorable situation.
When the shades of night are falling, Comes a fellow everyone knows. It's the old dope peddler, Spreading joy wherever he goes. Every evening you will find him, Around our neighborhood. It's the old dope peddler Doing well by doing good. He gives the kids free samples, Because he knows full well That today's young innocent faces Will be tomorrow's clientele. Here's a cure for all your troubles, Here's an end to all distress. It's the old dope peddler With his powdered happiness.
I know it's very bad form to quote one's own reviews, but I would like to mention something that the New York Times said about me a year ago which I've always treasured—they said: «Mr. Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as—taste».
Lehrer Comments: «[The Old Dope Peddler] was just intended as a takeoff on a certain genre of sentimental songs, like The Old Lamplighter and The Umbrella Man, which no one remembers any more. The idea was, it was only going to be funny if I took the most repulsive, antisocial character to write the song about. I thought about doing The Abortionist, but at that time you couldn't even say that. The dope peddler was the second choice, so there it was.»—1996 Interview.
For comparison purposes, here are the lyrics to the two songs mentioned as inspiration for The Old Dope Peddler:
THE OLD LAMPLIGHTER
by Jim Ed Brown and The Browns
He made the night a little brighter Wherever he would go The old lamplighter Of long, long ago His snowy hair was so much whiter Beneath the candle glow The old lamplighter Of long, long ago You'd hear the patter of his feet As he came toddling down the street His smile would cheer a lonely heart you see. If there were sweethearts in the park He'd pass a lamp and leave it dark Remembering the days that used to be For he recalled when things were new He loved someone who loved him too Who walks with him alone in memories He made the night a little brighter Wherever he would go The old lamplighter Of long, long ago His snowy hair was so much whiter Beneath the candle glow The old lamplighter Of long, long ago Now if you look up in the sky You'll understand the reason why The little stars at night are all aglow He turns them on when night is near He turns them off when dawn is here The little man we left so long ago He made the night a little brighter Wherever he would go The old lamplighter of long, long ago
by Kay Kyser
Toodle—luma luma Toodle—luma luma Toodle—oh lay Any umbrellas, any umbrellas To mend today? Bring your parasol, it may be small. It may be big He will fix them all on what you call a thing-a-ma-jig Pitter patter patter! Pitter patter patter! It looks like rain. Let it pitter patter. Let it pitter patter. Who cares for rain? He'll mend your umbrellas, then go on his way Singing toodle luma luma. Toodle luma luma. Any umbrellas to mend today. When there's a lull And things are dull He'll sharpen knives for all the wives In the neighborhood And he's very good. He'll darn a sock Or fix a clock An apple cart A broken heart—- He'll mend anything but he'd much rather sing— Toodle—luma luma Toodle—luma luma Toodle-oh-lay Any umbrellas—any umbrellas To mend today? He'll mend your umbrella Then go on his way singing Toodle luma luma Toodle luma luma Any umbrellas to mend today.
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Now we come to that peculiar bit of Americana known as the football fight song. I was reminded not too long ago, upon returning from my lesson with the Scrabble pro at the Harvard club in Boston, of the days of my undergraduacy long ago when there used to be these very long Saturday afternoons in the fall with nothing to do—the library was closed—just waiting around for the cocktail parties to begin. And on occasions like that, some of us used to wander over to the…I believe it was called the stadium, to see if anything might be going on over there. And one did come to realize that the football fight songs that one hears in comparable stadia have a tendency to be somewhat uncouth, and even violent, and that it would be refreshing, to say the least, to find one that was a bit more genteel. And here it is, dedicated to my own alma mater, and called «Fight Fiercely, Harvard».
Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight,
Demonstrate to them our skill.
Albeit they possess the might,
Nonetheless we have the will.
How we will celebrate our victory,
We shall invite the whole team up for tea. (How jolly!)
Hurl that spheroid down the field,
And fight, fight, fight!
Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight!
Impress them with our prowess, do!
Oh, fellas, do not let the crimson down,
Be of stout heart and true.
Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard's glorious name!
Won't it be peachy if we win the game? (Oh, goody!)
Let's try not to injure them,
But fight, fight, fight!
Let's not be rough, though!
Fight, fight, fight!
And do fight fiercely!
Fight, fight, fight!
The oldest song on any Lehrer record, this was written in 1945.
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For many years now, Mr. Danny Kaye, who has been my particular idol since childbirth, has been doing a routine about the great Russian director Stanislavski and the secret of success in the acting profession. And I thought it would be interesting to stea… to adapt this idea to the field of mathematics. I always like to make explicit the fact that before I went off not too long ago to fight in the trenches, I was a mathematician by profession. I don't like people to get the idea that I have to do this for a living. I mean, it isn't as though I had to do this, you know, I could be making, oh, 3000 dollars a year, just teaching.
Be that as it may, some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder therefore how they got that way, and here, in partial explanation perhaps, is the story of the great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky.1
Who made me the genius I am today,
The mathematician that others all quote?
Who's the professor that made me that way,
The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat?
One man deserves the credit,
One man deserves the blame,
and Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobache…
I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!
Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize…
Only be sure always to call it please, «research».
And ever since I meet this man my life is not the same,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobache…
I am never forget the day I am given first original paper to write. It
was on Analytic and Algebraic Topology of Locally Euclidean Metrization
of Infinitely Differentiable Riemannian Manifold.
This I know from nothing.2
But I think of great Lobachevsky and I get idea—haha!
I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow
Is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.
And when his work is done—
Haha!—begins the fun.
By way of Iliysk,
To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk
To Tomsk to Omsk
To Pinsk to Minsk
To me the news will run,
Yes, to me the news will run!
And then I write
By morning, night,
And pretty soon
My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
When he finds out I published first!
And who made me a big success
And brought me wealth and fame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobache…
I am never forget the day my first book is published.
Every chapter I stole from somewhere else.
Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory.
This book, this book was sensational!3
Pravda—ah, Pravda—Pravda said:
«Jeel beel kara ogoday blyum blocha jeli,» («It stinks»).
But Izvestia! Izvestia said:
«Jai, do gudoo sun sai pere shcum,» («It stinks»).
Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva bought the movie rights for six million rubles,
Changing title to 'The Eternal Triangle',
With Brigitte Bardot playing part of hypotenuse.4
And who deserves the credit?
And who deserves the blame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
1 Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky; 1793-1856
2 In the studio recording these two lines are slightly different:
This I know from nothing. What I'm going to do?
I think of great Lobachevsky and I get idea—haha!
3 In the studio recording these three lines are slightly different:
This book was sensational!
Pravda, ha, well Pravda says:
«Jeel beel billerica dat blocha jeli», (It stinks).
4 In the studio recording the part of the hypotenuse was played by Ingrid Bergman
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Now I'd like to turn to the folk song, which has become in recent years the particularly fashionable form of idiocy among the self-styled intellectual. We find that people who deplore the level of current popular songs—although I admit they do seem to be recording almost anything these days. have you heard Sesue Hayakawa's record of Remember Pearl Harbor? These same people who deplore the level of current popular songs and yet will sit around enthralled singing «Jimmy crack corn and I don't care» or «Green Grow The Rushes, Oh!»—whatever that means. At any rate, for this elite I have here an ancient Irish ballad, which was written a few years ago, and which is replete with all the accoutrements of this art form. In particular, it has a sort of idiotic refrain, in this case «rickety-tickety-tin» you'll notice cropping up from time to time, running through, I might add, interminable verses.—The large number of verses being a feature expressly designed to please the true devotees of the folk song who seem to find singing fifty verses of «On Top Of Old Smokey» is twice as enjoyable as singing twenty-five.
This type of song also has what is known technically in music as a modal tune, which means—for the benefit of any layman who may have wandered in this evening—that I play a wrong note every now and then, I think I might add… (starts to play, then stops)
This song though does differ strikingly from the genuine folk ballad in that in this song the words which are supposed to rhyme—actually do. (starts to play, then stops) I, ah, I really should say that—I do not direct these remarks against the vast army of folk song lovers, but merely against that peculiar hard core who seem to equate authenticity with artistic merit and illiteracy with charm. (starts to play, then stops)
Oh—one more thing. One of the more important aspects of public folk singing is audience participation, and this happens to be a good song for group singing. So if any of you feel like joining in with me on this song, I'd appreciate it if you would leave—right now. (Starts to play, and continues…)
About a maid I'll sing a song, Sing rickety-tickety-tin, About a maid I'll sing a song, Who didn't have her family long. Not only did she do them wrong, She did everyone of them in, them in, She did everyone of them in. One morning in a fit of pique, Sing rickety-tickety-tin, One morning in a fit of pique, She drowned her father in the creek. The water tasted bad for a week, And we had to make do with gin, with gin, We had to make do with gin. Her mother she could never stand, Sing rickety-tickety-tin, Her mother she could never stand, And so a cyanide soup she planned. The mother died with a spoon in her hand, And her face in a hideous grin, a grin, Her face in a hideous grin. She set her sister's hair on fire, a-Rickety-tickety-tin, She set her sister's hair on fire, And as the smoke and flame rose higher, Danced around the funeral pyre, Playin' a violin,—olin, Playin' a violin. She weighted her brother down with stones, a-Rickety-tickety-tin, She weighted her brother down with stones, And sent him off to Davy Jones. All they ever found were some bones, And occasional pieces of skin, of skin, Occasional pieces of skin. One day when she had nothing to do, Sing rickety-tickety-tin, One day when she had nothing to do, She cut her baby brother in two, And served him up as an Irish stew, And invited the neighbors in,—bors in, Invited the neighbors in. And when at last the police came by, Sing rickety-tickety-tin, And when at last the police came by, Her little pranks she did not deny. To do so she would have had to lie, And lying, she knew, was a sin, a sin, Lying, she knew, was a sin. My tragic tale I won't prolong, Rickety-tickety-tin, My tragic tale I won't prolong, And if you do not enjoy my song, You've yourselves to blame if it's too long, You should never have let me begin, begin, You should never have let me begin.
Almost every day during the hunting season you see at least one item in the newspapers about somebody who has shot somebody else, under the impression that he was a deer with a red hat, perhaps. Maybe a large flesh-colored squirrel. At any rate, it seems to me that this marks an encouraging new trend in the field of blood sports, and deserves a new type of hunting song which I present herewith.
I always will remember, 'T was a year ago November, I went out to hunt some deer On a morning bright and clear. I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow: Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow. I was in no mood to trifle, I took down my trusty rifle And went out to stalk my prey. What a haul I made that day! I tied them to my fender, and I drove them home somehow: Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow. The law was very firm, it Took away my permit, The worst punishment I ever endured. It turned out there was a reason, Cows were out of season, And one of the hunters wasn't insured. People ask me how I do it, And I say «There's nothin' to it, You just stand there lookin' cute, And when something moves, you shoot!» And there's ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now: Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a pure-bred Guernsey cow.
* In the orchestral version of this song, the last two stanzas are repeated.
Next we have the dear-hearts-and-gentle-people's school of songwriting, in which the singer tells you that, no matter how much sin and vice and crime go on where he comes from, it's still the best place in the world because it's home, you know? Sort of gets you. This example is called My Home Town.
I really have a yen To go back once again, Back to the place where no one wears a frown, To see once more those super-special just plain folks In my home town. No fellow could ignore The little girl next door, She sure looked sweet in her first evening gown. Now there's a charge for what she used to give for free In my home town. I remember Dan, the druggist on the corner, he Was never mean or ornery, He was swell. He killed his mother-in-law and ground her up real well, And sprinkled just a bit Over each banana split. The guy that taught us math, Who never took a bath, Acquired a certain measure of renown, And after school he sold the most amazing pictures In my home town. That fellow was no fool Who taught our Sunday School, And neither was our kindly Parson Brown— (We're recording tonight, so I'll have to leave this line out.) 1 In my home town. I remember Sam, he was the village idiot, And though it seems a pity, it Was so. He loved to burn down houses just to watch the glow, And nothing could be done, Because he was the mayor's son. The guy that took a knife And monogrammed his wife, Then dropped her in the pond and watched her drown. Oh, yes indeed, the people there are just plain folks In my home town.
1 In the studio recording this line is: «I guess I better leave this line out just to be on the safe side».
1 In some live performances, this line is given as: «Shall I? No, I'd better not».
1 The question that comes up over and over again is what is the line that is being omitted here? Answer: There isn't one. Leaving it to the imagination is funnier than any line could be. But for those who doubt that, feel free to try to come up with one and send it in. I've had little luck myself. One possible line I've come up with is «He knew to pull the blinds at all the 'parish meetings' in my Home Town», which at least has the virtue of having the proper number of syllables, but is hardly worse (or even as bad) as most of the lines that didn't get omitted. Anybody think they can do better? (I mean worse).
The most popular type of popular song is of course the love song, and I'd like to illustrate several subspecies of this form during the evening. First of all, the type of love song where the fellow tells the girl that although the years ahead will almost certainly destroy every vestige of her already dubious charms, that nonetheless his love for her will shine on forever through the years, you know. Another example of stark realism in the popular song.
This particular example is called When You Are Old And Grey, and I'd like to dedicate it to anyone in the audience who is still in love with each other.
Since I still appreciate you, Let's find love while we may. Because I know I'll hate you When you are old and grey. So say you love me here and now, I'll make the most of that. Say you love and trust me, For I know you'll disgust me When you're old and getting fat. An awful debility, A lessened utility, A loss of mobility Is a strong possibility. In all probability I'll lose my virility And you your fertility And desirability. And this liability Of total sterility Will lead to hostility And a sense of futility. So let's act with agility While we still have facility, For we'll soon reach senility And lose the ability. Your teeth will start to go, dear, Your waist will start to spread. In twenty years or so, dear, I'll wish that you were dead. I'll never love you then at all The way I do today. So please remember, When I leave in December, I told you so in May.
Now to continue with the love song, here we have the Viennese waltz type of the Franz Lehar/Johann Strauss school, conjuring up images of gaily waltzing couples, and probably stale champagne drunk from sweaty slippers. This example is called The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz.
Do you remember the night I held you so tight, As we danced to the Wiener Schnitzel Waltz? The music was gay, and the setting was Viennese, Your hair wore some roses (or perhaps they were peonies?), I was blind to your obvious faults, As we danced 'cross the scene To the strains of the Wiener Schnitzel Waltz. Oh, I drank some champagne from your shoe, la-la-la. I was drunk by the time I got through, la-la-la. For I didn't know as I raised that cup, It had taken two bottles to fill the thing up. It was I who stepped on your dress, la-la-la. The skirts all came off, I confess, la-la-la. Revealing for all of the others to see Just what it was that endeared you to me… I remember the night I held you so tight, As we danced to the Wiener Schnitzel Waltz. Your lips were like wine (if you'll pardon the simile), The music was lovely and quite Rudolf Frimly1. I drank wine, you drank chocolate malts, And we both turned quite green To the strains of the Wiener Schnitzel Waltz.
1 Rudolf Frimly, 1879-1972. A composer born in Prague, and who moved to the US in 1906. He wrote 33 light operas, the best known of which are «The Firefly» (1912), «Rose Marie» (1924), and «The Vagabond King» (1925). I say «best known», though in reality I hadn't heard of even these ones until I looked the guy up.
One more love song. I generally like to include at least one or two love songs in the evening's program, partly perhaps to convince people that even at the Harvard University Graduate School, that hotbed of celibacy that I used to call home, we did have our moments. This one is a tender ballad entitled simply I Hold Your Hand In Mine.
I hold your hand in mine, dear, I press it to my lips. I take a healthy bite From your dainty fingertips. My joy would be complete, dear, If you were only here, But still I keep your hand As a precious souvenir. The night you died I cut it off, I really don't know why. For now each time I kiss it I get bloodstains on my tie. I'm sorry now I killed you, For our love was something fine, And till they come to get me I shall hold your hand in mine.
You know, of all the songs I have ever sung, that is the one I've had the most requests not to.
I have time for one more here. This one is a little song dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America, [applause] we seem to have a convention here tonight! The Boy Scouts of America, those noble little… bastions of democracy, and the American Legion of tomorrow. Their motto is… I would like to state at this time that I am not now and have never been1… a member of the Boy Scouts of America. Their motto is, as you know, Be Prepared! and that is the name of this song.
Be prepared! That's the Boy Scouts' marching song, Be prepared! As through life you march along. Be prepared to hold your liquor pretty well. Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell. Be prepared! To hide that pack of cigarettes. Don't make book if you cannot cover bets. Keep those reefers hidden where you're sure that they will not be found, And be careful not to smoke them when the scoutmaster's around,2 For he only will insist that they be shared, be prepared! Be prepared! That's the Boy Scouts' solemn creed, Be prepared! And be clean in word and deed. Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice, Unless you get a good percentage of her price. Be prepared! And be careful not to do Your good deeds when there's no one watching you. If you're looking for adventure of a new and different kind, And you come across a Girl Scout who is similarly inclined, Don't be nervous, don't be flustered, don't be scared. Be prepared!
1 A reference to the question asked of witnesses by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era: «Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?»
2 In some live performances, these last two lines were given as:
Keep that pot hidden where you're sure that it will not be found, and be careful not to turn on when the scoutmaster's around,
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AN EVENING WASTED WITH TOM LEHRER
I'd like to take you now on wings of song as it were, and try and help you forget, perhaps, for a while, your drab wretched lives. Here is a song all about springtime in general, and in particular about one of the many delightful pastimes that the coming of spring affords us all.
Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here. Life is skittles and life is beer. I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring. I do, don't you? 'Course you do! But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me, And makes every Sunday a treat for me. All the world seems in tune On a spring afternoon, When we're poisoning pigeons in the park. Every Sunday you'll see My sweetheart and me, As we poison the pigeons in the park. When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide, But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide. The sun's shining bright, Everything seems all right, When we're poisoning pigeons in the park. We've gained notoriety, And caused much anxiety In the Audubon Society With our games. They call it impiety And lack of propriety, And quite a variety Of unpleasant names. But it's not against any religion To want to dispose of a pigeon. So if Sunday you're free, Why don't you come with me, And we'll poison the pigeons in the park. And maybe we'll do In a squirrel1 or two, While we're poisoning pigeons in the park. We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment, Except for the few we take home to experiment. My pulse will be quickenin' With each drop of strych'nine We feed to a pigeon. (It just takes a smidgin!) To poison a pigeon in the park.
1 In 1998, Lehrer performed this song as part of a one-off show devoted to Sir Cameron Mackintosh, and substituted «sparrow» for «squirrel».
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For my first encore, I'd like to turn to a type of song…(laughter) to a type of song that people like myself find ourselves subjected to with increasing frequency as time goes on, and that is the College Alma Mater. You find yourself at a reunion of old grads and old undergrads… and somebody will start croaking out one of these things and everyone will gradually join in, each in his own key of course, until the place is just soggy with nostalgia.
Well, a typical such song might be called «Bright College Days»1, and might go like this:
Bright college days, oh, carefree days that fly, To thee we sing with our glasses raised on high. [holds up his eyeglasses] Let's drink a toast as each of us recalls Ivy-covered professors in ivy-covered halls. Turn on the spigot, Pour the beer and swig it, And gaudeamus igit-itur.2 Here's to parties we tossed, To the games that we lost (We shall claim that we won them someday). To the girls, young and sweet, To the spacious back seat Of our roommate's beat up Chevrolet. To the beer and benzedrine, To the way that the dean Tried so hard to be pals with us all. To excuses we fibbed, To the papers we cribbed From the genius who lived down the hall. To the tables down at Mory's3 (Wherever that may be?), Let us drink a toast to all we love the best. We will sleep through all the lectures, And cheat on the exams, And we'll pass, and be forgotten with the rest. Oh, soon we'll be out amid the cold world's strife. Soon we'll be sliding down the razor blade of life. (Oooh!) (laughter) … Ready? … But as we go our sordid separate ways, We shall ne'er forget thee, thou golden college days. Hearts full of youth, Hearts full of truth, Six parts gin to one part vermouth.
1 The Yale alma mater is called Bright College Years. The lyrics are as follows
|BRIGHT COLLEGE YEARS
Bright college years, with pleasure rife, The shortest, gladdest years of life; How swiftly are ye gliding by! Oh, why doth time so quickly fly? The seasons come, the seasons go, The earth is green or white with snow, But time and change shall naught avail To break the friendships formed at Yale.
In after years should trouble rise To cloud the blue of sunny skies, How bright will seem thru mem'ry's haze, Those happy, golden, bygone days! Oh, let us strive that ever we May let these words our watchcry be, Where'er upon life's sea we sail «For God, for country, and for Yale!»
2 From the Latin song, Gaudeamus igitur
1. |: Gaudeamus igitur,
|: While we're young, let us rejoice,
Singing out in gleeful tones; :|
After youth's delightful frolic,
And old age (so melancholic!),
|: Earth will cover our bones. :|
|: Life is short and all too soon
We emit our final gasp; :|
Death ere long is on our back;
Terrible is his attack;
|: None escapes his dread grasp. :|
|: Where are those who trod this globe
In the years before us? :|
They in hellish fires below,
Or in Heaven's kindly glow,
|: Swell th' eternal chorus. :|
|: Long live our academy,
Teachers whom we cherish; :|
Long live all the graduates,
And the undergraduates;
|: Ever may they flourish. :|
|: Long live all the maidens fair,
Easy-going, pretty; :|
Long live all good ladies who
Are tender and so friendly to
|: Students in this city. :|
|: Long live our Republic and
The gentlefolk who lead us; :|
May the ones who hold the purse
Be always ready to disburse
|: Funds required to feed us. :|
|: Down with sadness, down with gloom,
Down with all who hate us; :|
Down with those who criticize,
Look with envy in their eyes,
|: Scoff, mock and berate us. :|
|: Why has such a multitude
Come here during winter break? :|
Despite distance, despite weather,
They have gathered here together
|: For Philology's sake. :|
|: Long live our society,
Scholars wise and learn-ed; :|
May truth and sincerity
Nourish our fraternity
|: And our land's prosperity. :|
|: May our Alma Mater thrive,
A font of education; :|
Friends and colleagues, where'er they are,
Whether near or from afar,
|: Heed her invitation. :|
3 Mory's is a dining club located at 306 York Street, in New Haven, Connecticut, that was originally open only to Yale faculty and students. The phrase «the tables down at Mory's», as well as the «glasses raised on high», and «temple bar we love so well», is a reference to the Whiffenpoof Song, that goes (Wow, FOUR songs in one! Aren't you lucky?):
THE WHIFFENPOOF SONG
To the tables down at Mory's To the place where Louie dwells To the dear old Temple bar we love so well Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled with their glasses raised on high And the magic of their singing casts its spell Yes, the magic of their singing of the songs we love so well «Shall I Wasting» and «Mavourneen» and the rest We will serenade our Louie while life and voice shall last Then we'll pass and be forgotten with the rest We're poor little lambs who have lost our way Baa, baa, baa We're little black sheep who have gone astray Baa, baa, baa Gentleman songsters off on a spree Doomed from here to eternity Lord have mercy on such as we Baa, baa, baa
One very familiar type of song is the Christmas carol, although it is perhaps a bit out of season at this time. However, I am informed by my disk jockey friends, of whom I have none, that in order to get a song popular by Christmas time you have to start plugging it well in advance, so here it goes. It's always seemed to me, after all, that Christmas, with its spirit of giving, offers us all a wonderful opportunity each year to reflect on what we all most sincerely and deeply believe in—I refer, of course, to money. And yet, none of the Christmas carols that you hear on the radio, or in the street, even attempts to capture the true spirit of Christmas as we celebrate it in the United States, that is to say the commercial spirit. So I should like to offer the following Christmas carol for next year as being perhaps a bit more appropriate.
Christmas time is here, by golly, Disapproval would be folly. Deck the halls with hunks of holly, Fill the cup and don't say when. Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens, Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens. Even though the prospect sickens, Brother, here we go again. On Christmas Day you can't get sore, Your fellow man you must adore. There's time to rob him all the more The other three hundred and sixty-four. Relations, sparing no expense, 'll Send some useless old utensil, Or a matching pen and pencil. («Just the thing I need, how nice!») It doesn't matter how sincere it is, Nor how heart felt the spirit, Sentiment will not endear it, What's important is the price. Hark, the Herald Tribune sings, Advertising wondrous things. God rest ye merry merchants, May ye make the Yuletide pay. Angels we have heard on high, Tell us to go out and buy! So, let the raucous sleighbells jingle, Hail our dear old friend Kris Kringle, Driving his reindeer across the sky. Don't stand underneath when they fly by.
Actually, I did rather well myself this past Christmas. The nicest present I received was a gift certificate good at any hospital for a lobotomy… rather thoughtful.
Now, if I may digress momentarily from the mainstream of this evening's symposium, I'd like to sing a song which is completely pointless, but is something which I picked up during my career as a scientist. This may prove useful to some of you some day, perhaps, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances. It's simply the names of the chemical elements set to a possibly recognizable tune1.
There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium, And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium, And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium, And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium, Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium, And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium, And gold and protactinium and indium and gallium, (gasp) And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium. There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium, And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium, And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium, And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium.
Isn't that interesting?
I knew you would.
I hope you're all taking notes, because there's going to be a short quiz next period…
There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium, And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium, And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium, Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium. And lead, praseodymium and platinum, plutonium, Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium, And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium, (gasp) And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium. There's sulfur, californium and fermium, berkelium, And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium, And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc and rhodium, And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin and sodium. These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard, And there may be many others but they haven't been discovered.
And now, may I have the next slide please? …carried away there.
1 The tune is that of The Major-General's Song, by Sir Arthur Sullivan, from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance.
The Elements was an attempt to top the song Tschaikowsky, by Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill, which Danny Kaye sang in the show Lady in the Dark, rattling off the names of 50 Russian composers at lightning speed.
Although there has been much confusion and academic infighting over the Periodic Table in recent years, here are the elements that have been discovered since the writing of this song:
hilarious FLASH-animation over this particular song, please go to:
For another link, see:
It seems that most of the songs that you hear these days on the radio played by the disk jockeys, apart from rock and roll and other children's records, tend to be motion picture title songs. Apparently producers feel that we will not attend their movies unless we have the titles well drilled into our heads in advance. Of course, we don't go anyway, but at least this way they make back on the song some of what they've lost on the picture. But, with the rise of the motion picture title song we have such hits of the past few years as The Ten Commandments Mambo, Brothers Karamazov Cha-Cha, Incredible Shrinking Man I Love You… I'm sure you're all familiar with these.
But, a few years ago, a motion picture version appeared of Sophocles' immortal tragedy Œdipus Rex. This picture played only in the so-called art theaters, and it was not a financial success. And I maintain that the reason it was not a financial success…(laughter) you're way ahead of me… was that it did not have a title tune which the people could hum, and which would make them actually eager to attend this particular flick. So, I've attempted to supply this, and here then is the prospective title song from Œdipus Rex.
From the Bible to the popular song, There's one theme that we find right along; Of all ideals they hail as good, The most sublime is motherhood. There was a man though, who it seems, Once carried this ideal to extremes. He loved his mother and she loved him, And yet his story is rather grim. There once lived a man named Œdipus Rex, You may have heard about his odd complex. His name appears in Freud's index 'Cause he loved his mother. His rivals used to say quite a bit That as a monarch he was most unfit. But still in all they had to admit That he loved his mother. Yes, he loved his mother like no other, His daughter was his sister and his son was his brother. One thing on which you can depend is, He sure knew who a boy's best friend is. When he found what he had done, He tore his eyes out, one by one. A tragic end to a loyal son Who loved his mother. So be sweet and kind to mother, Now and then have a chat. Buy her candy or some flowers, Or a brand new hat. But maybe you had better let it go at that. Or you may find yourself with a quite complex complex And you may end up like Œdipus. I'd rather marry a duck-billed platypus Than end up like old Œdipus Rex.
The outpatients are out in force tonight, I see, good! Now…
I'm sure you're all aware that this week is National Gall Bladder Week, and so as sort of an educational feature at this point I thought I would acquaint you with some of the results of my recent researches into the career of the late Doctor Samuel Gall, inventor of the gall bladder, which certainly ranks as one of the more important technological advances since the invention of the joy buzzer and the dribble glass.
Dr. Gall's faith in his invention was so dramatically vindicated last year, as you no doubt recall, when, for the first time in history in a nationwide poll, the gall bladder was voted among the top ten organs. His educational career began, interestingly enough, in agricultural school, where he majored in animal husbandry, until they… caught him at it one day… whereupon he switched to the field of medicine, in which field he also won renown as the inventor of gargling, which prior to that time had been practiced only furtively by a remote tribe in the Andes who passed the secret down from father to son as part of their oral tradition.
He soon became a specialist, specializing in diseases of the rich. He was therefore able to retire at an early age… to the land we all dream about: sunny Mexico, of course, the last part of which is completely irrelevant, as was the whole thing, I guess, except it's a rather sneaky way of getting into this next type of popular song, which is one of those things about that magic and romantic land south of the border.
When it's fiesta time in Guadalajara, Then I long to be back once again In Old Mexico. Where we lived for today, never giving a thought to tomara. To the strumming of guitars, In a hundred grubby bars I would whisper «Teo amo.»1 The mariachis would serenade, And they would not shut up till they were paid. We ate, we drank, and we were merry, And we got typhoid and dysentery.2 But best of all, we went to the Plaza de Toros. Now whenever I start feeling morose, I revive by recalling that scene. And names like Belmonte, Dominguin, and Manolete,3 If I live to a hundred and eight-tay, I shall never forget what they mean.
For there is surely nothing more beautiful in this world than the sight of a lone man facing single-handedly a half a ton of angry pot roast!
Out came the matador, Who must have been potted or Slightly insane, but who looked rather bored. Then the picadors of course, Each one on his horse, I shouted «Olé!» every time one was gored. I cheered at the banderilleros' display, As they stuck the bull in their own clever way, For I hadn't had so much fun since the day My brother's dog Rover Got run over.
Rover was killed by a Pontiac. And it was done with such grace and artistry that the witnesses awarded the driver both ears and the tail4—but I digress.
The moment had come, I swallowed my gum, We knew there'd be blood on the sand pretty soon. The crowd held its breath, Hoping that death Would brighten an otherwise dull afternoon. At last, the matador did what we wanted him to, He raised his sword and his aim was true. In that moment of truth, I suddenly knew That someone had stolen my wallet. Now it's fiesta time in Akron, Ohio, But it's back to old Guadalajara I'm longing to go. Far away from the strikes of the A.F. of L. and C.I.O.5 How I wish I could get back To the land of the wetback6, And forget the Alamo, In Old Mexico. Olé!
1 Teo amo: Spanish for I Love You.
2 Mexico's water supply is notoriously tainted.
3 Three Spanish bullfighters. Juan Belmonte invented modern bull fighting. Manolete died in the arena in 1947. Dominguin pronounced himself Numero Uno after the death of Manolete.
4 If a bullfighter puts on an especially good show, the spectators may award him parts of the bull, such as, yes, the ears or tail.
5 The two largest American labour unions, the American Federation of Labor, and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, who merged in 1955 to form the AFL/CIO
6 Racial epithet for Mexican, deriving from the fact that many illegal immigrants enter the US by swimming across the Rio Grande River that lies between Mexico and Texas.
I should like to consider the folk song, and expound briefly on a theory I have held for some time, to the effect that the reason most folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people. If professional songwriters had written them instead, things might have turned out considerably differently. For example, consider the old favorite, with which, I'm sure, you're all familiar, Clementine, you know:
In a cavern, in a canyon, dadada dadadada…1
…a song with no recognizable merit whatsoever—and imagine what might have happened if, for example, Cole Porter had tried writing this song. The first verse might have come out like this:
In a cavern, in a canyon, Excava-ha-ha-hating for a mine, Far away from the boom-boom-boom of the city She was so pretty—what a pity, Clementine. Oh Clementine, can't you tell from the howls of me This love of mine calls to you from the bowels of me. Are you discerning the returning Of this churning, burning, yearning for you…oo oo…ah ah…
… well, supposing at this point that Mozart (or one of that crowd) had tried writing a verse, the next one might have come out as a baritone aria from an Italian opera, somewhat along these lines:
Era legera e come un fairy E suo shoes numero nine, Herring bo-ho-ho-hoxes sans-a to-ho-ho-hopses, Sandalae per Clementina si, per Clementina si, Per Clementina sandalae, per Clementina sandalae, per Clementina. Clementina, Clementina, Clementina… Herring boxes sans-a topses sandalae per Clementina, Herring boxes sans-a topses sandalae per Clementina, Che sciagura2 Clementina, che sciagura Clementina, cara Clementina, cara Clementina-na-na-na-na-na-na-na!
Supposing at this rather dramatic juncture in the narrative, one of our modern cool school of composers had tried writing a verse, the next one might have come out like this:
A one, a two, a three… Drove those ducklings to the water… yeah brach! doddley doo doo uh ah! Ev'ry morning like 9am…ooh pah! de do de do do do, biddley da! Got hung up on a splinter, got a-hung up on a splinter… cloo ge mop! Huh huh! [do de do de do do do] Fell into the foamy brine, dig that crazy Clementine, man!
To end on a happy note, one can always count on Gilbert and Sullivan for a rousing finale, full of words and music and signifying—nothing.3
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. The mister resisted, the sister persisted, I kissed her, all loyalty slipped. When she said I could have her, her sister's cadaver Must surely have turned in its crypt. Yes, yes, yes, yes! But I love she and she loves me. Enraptured are the both of we. Yes I love she and she loves I And will through all eterni-tae!
- see what I mean?
1 For reference, here are the original lyrics to Clementine:
[Cole Porter verse 1] In a cavern, in a canyon Excavating for a mine, Dwelt a miner '49er, And his daughter, Clementine. (Chorus) [Cole Porter verse 2] Oh, my darling, Oh, my darling, Oh, my darling, Clementine. You are gone and lost forever, Dreadful sorry, Clementine. [Mozart verse] Light she was and like a fairy, And her shoes were number nine, Herring boxes without topses, Sandals were for Clementine. (Chorus) [Beatnik verse] Drove she ducklings to the water Ev'ry morning just at 9, Struck her foot against a splinter, Fell into the foaming brine. (Chorus) Ruby lips above the water, Blowing bubbles soft and fine. As for me, I was no swimmer, So I lost my Clementine. (Chorus) [G&S verse] How I missed her, how I missed her, How I missed my Clementine. So I kissed her little sister, And forgot my Clementine.
2 Che sciagura: Italian for «What a disaster»
3 A reference to a line from Macbeth:
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. (5.5.28)
I have only comparatively recently emerged from the United States Army, so that I am now, of course, in the radioactive reserve. And, the usual jokes about the Army aside, one of the many fine things one has to admit is the way that the Army has carried the American democratic ideal to its logical conclusion, in the sense that not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, and color, but also on the grounds of ability.
Be that as it may, some of you may recall the publicity a few years ago attendant upon the Army's search for an official Army song to be the counterpart of the Navy's Anchors Aweigh and the Air Force's Up In The Air, Junior Birdman song. I was in basic training at the time, and I recall our platoon sergeant, who was an unfrocked Marine… (Actually, the change of service had come as quite a blow to him because it meant that he had to memorize a new serial number which took up most of his time.)
At any rate, I recall this sergeant's informing me and my roommates of this rather deplorable fact that the Army didn't have any official…excuse me, didn't have no official song, and suggested that we work on this in our copious free time. Well, I submitted the following song, which is called It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier which, I think, demonstrates the proper spirit, you'll agree. However, the fact that it did not win the contest I can ascribe only to blatant favoritism on part of the judges.
The heart of every man in our platoon must swell with pride, For the nation's youth, the cream of which is marching at his side. For the fascinating rules and regulations that we share, And the quaint and curious costumes that we're called upon to wear. Now Al joined up to do his part defending you and me. He wants to fight and bleed and kill and die for liberty. With the hell of war he's come to grips, Policing up the filter tips, It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier! When Pete was only in the seventh grade, he stabbed a cop. He's real R.A.1 material, and he was glad to swap His switchblade and his old zip gun For a bayonet and a new M-1.2 It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier! After Johnny got through basic training, he Was a soldier through and through when he was done. Its effects were so well rooted, That the next day he saluted A Good Humor man, an usher, and a nun. Now, Fred's an intellectual, brings a book to every meal. He likes the deep philosophers, like Norman Vincent Peale. He thinks the army's just the thing, Because he finds it broadening. It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier! Now, Ed flunked out of second grade, and never finished school. He doesn't know a shelter half from an entrenching tool.3 But, he's going to be a big success, He heads his class at OCS.4 It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier! Our old mess sergeant's taste buds had been shot off in the war. But his savory collations add to our esprit de corps. To think of all the marvelous ways They're using plastics nowadays. It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier! Our lieutenant is the up-and-coming type, Played with soldiers as a boy, you just can bet. It is written in the stars He will get his captain's bars, But he hasn't got enough box tops5 yet. Our captain has a handicap to cope with, sad to tell. He's from Georgia, and he doesn't speak the language very well. He used to be, so rumor has, The Dean of Men…at Alcatraz. It makes a fellow proud to be, What as a kid I vowed to be, What luck to be allowed to be a soldier. (At ease!)
1 Regular Army
2 M-1: An early assault rifle
3 A collapsible shovel, designed to fit into a pack
4 Officer Candidate School
5 In those days, one could get prizes from cereal companies by sending in enough box tops from their product.
And now to the love song… I'm sure you're familiar with love songs on the order of He's just my Bill, … my man, … my Joe, … my Max, and so on, where the girl who sings them tells you that, although the man she loves is antisocial, alcoholic, physically repulsive, or just plain unsanitary, that, nevertheless, she is his because he is hers, and like that. But, as far as I know, there has never been a popular song from the analogous male point of view, that is to say, of a man who finds himself in love with, or, in this case, married to, a girl, who has nothing whatsoever to recommend her. I have attempted to fill this need. The song is called She's My Girl.
Sharks gotta swim, and bats gotta fly, I gotta love one woman till I die. To Ed or Dick or Bob, She may be just a slob, But to me, well, She's my girl. In winter, the bedroom is one large ice cube, And she squeezes the toothpaste from the middle of the tube! Her hairs in the sink Have driven me to drink, But she's my girl, she's my girl, she's my girl, And I love her. The girl that I lament for, The girl my money's spent for, The girl my back is bent for, The girl I owe the rent for, The girl I gave up Lent for Is the girl that heaven meant for me. So though for breakfast she makes coffee that tastes like cham…poo, I come home for dinner and get peanut butter stew, Or, if I'm in luck, It's broiled hockey puck, But, oh well, what the hell, She's my girl, And I love her.
Another familiar type of love song is the passionate or fiery variety, usually in tango tempo, in which the singer exhorts his partner to haunt him and taunt him and, if at all possible, to consume him with a kiss of fire. This particular illustration of this genre is called The Masochism Tango.
I ache for the touch of your lips, dear, But much more for the touch of your whips, dear. You can raise welts Like nobody else, As we dance to the Masochism Tango. Let our love be a flame, not an ember, Say it's me that you want to dismember. Blacken my eye, Set fire to my tie, As we dance to the Masochism Tango. At your command Before you here I stand, My heart is in my hand… Yeech! It's here that I must be. My heart entreats, Just hear those savage beats, And go put on your cleats And come and trample me. Your heart is hard as stone or mahogany, That's why I'm in such exquisite agony. My soul is on fire, It's aflame with desire, Which is why I perspire when we tango. You caught my nose In your left castanet, love, I can feel the pain yet, love, Ev'ry time I hear drums. And I envy the rose That you held in your teeth, love, With the thorns underneath, love, Sticking into your gums. Your eyes cast a spell that bewitches. The last time I needed twenty stitches To sew up the gash That you made with your lash, As we danced to the Masochism Tango. Bash in my brain, And make me scream with pain, Then kick me once again, And say we'll never part. I know too well I'm underneath your spell, So, darling, if you smell Something burning, it's my heart… [hiccup] 'Scuse me! Take your cigarette from its holder, And burn your initials in my shoulder. Fracture my spine, And swear that you're mine, As we dance to the Masochism Tango.
I am reminded at this point of a fellow I used to know whose name was Henry, only to give you an idea of what a individualist he was, he spelled it H-E-N-3-R-Y. The three was silent, you see.
Henry was financially independent, having inherited his father's tar-and-feather business, and was therefore able to devote his full time to such intellectual pursuits as writing. I particularly remember a heartwarming novel of his about a young necrophiliac who finally achieved his boyhood ambition by becoming coroner. … (scattered laughter) The rest of you can look it up when you get home.
In addition to writing, he indulged in a good deal of philosophizing. Like so many contemporary philosophers, he especially enjoyed giving helpful advice to people who were happier than he was. And one particular bit of advice which I recall—which is the reason I bring up this whole dreary story—is something he said once, before they took him away to the Massachusetts State Home for the Bewildered.
He said: «Life is like a sewer—what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.» It's always seemed to me that this is precisely the sort of dynamic, positive thinking that we so desperately need today in these trying time of crisis and universal brouhaha. And so with this in mind, I have here a modern, positive, dynamic, uplifting song, in the tradition of the great old revival hymns. This one might more accurately be termed a survival hymn. It goes like this:
When you attend a funeral, It is sad to think that sooner or Later those you love will do the same for you. And you may have thought it tragic, Not to mention other adjec- Tives, to think of all the weeping they will do. (But don't you worry.) No more ashes, no more sackcloth, And an arm band made of black cloth Will some day nevermore adorn a sleeve. For if the bomb that drops on you Gets your friends and neighbors too, There'll be nobody left behind to grieve. And we will all go together when we go. What a comforting fact that is to know. Universal bereavement, An inspiring achievement, Yes, we will all go together when we go. We will all go together when we go. All suffused with an incandescent glow. No one will have the endurance To collect on his insurance, Lloyd's of London will be loaded when they go. Oh we will all fry together when we fry. We'll be French fried potatoes by and by. There will be no more misery When the world is our rotisserie, Yes, we will all fry together when we fry. Down by the old maelstrom, There'll be a storm before the calm. And we will all bake together when we bake. There'll be nobody present at the wake. With complete participation In that grand incineration, Nearly three billion hunks of well-done steak. Oh we will all char together when we char. And let there be no moaning of the bar. Just sing out a Te Deum When you see that I. C. B. M.,1 And the party will be come-as-you-are. Oh, we will all burn together when we burn. There'll be no need to stand and wait your turn. When it's time for the fallout And Saint Peter calls us all out, We'll just drop our agendas and adjourn. You will all go directly to your respective Valhallas. Go directly, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars. And we will all go together when we go. Every Hottentot and every Eskimo. When the air becomes uranious, We will all go simultaneous. Yes, we all will go together When we all go together, Yes we all will go together when we go.
* I. C. B. M.: Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile
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THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS
One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week. This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. One of my favorites is National Make-Fun-Of-The-Handicapped Week, which Frank Fontaine and Jerry Lewis are in charge of as you know. During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged to drive home the message of brotherhood—this year, for example, on the first day of the week, Malcolm X was killed,1 which gives you an idea of how effective the whole thing is.
I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that! Here's a song about National Brotherhood Week.
Oh, the white folks hate the black folks, And the black folks hate the white folks; To hate all but the right folks Is an old established rule. But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week, Lena Horne2 and Sheriff Clark3 are dancing cheek to cheek. It's fun to eulogize The people you despise As long as you don't let 'em in your school. Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks, And the rich folks hate the poor folks. All of my folks hate all of your folks, It's American as apple pie. But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week, New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it's very chic. Step up and shake the hand Of someone you can't stand, You can tolerate him if you try! Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics And the Catholics hate the Protestants, And the Hindus hate the Moslems, And everybody hates the Jews. But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week, It's National Everyone-Smile-At-One-Another-Hood Week. Be nice to people who Are inferior to you. It's only for a week, so have no fear; Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!
1 For those wondering when National Brotherhood Week actually was, Malcolm X was killed on Sunday, February 21, 1965. If that was the first day of National Brotherhood Week, then it ran from February 21 through February 27 that year, or the last full week in February.
2 Lena Horne, born 1917, was a mulatto lounge singer, active in the 1960's, who was criticized for her lack of involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
3 Sheriff Jim Clark of Selma, Alabama, was responsible for several violent arrests of Civil Rights protestors, over the wishes of Selma mayor Joseph Smitherman, who wanted to bring industry to the town, and didn't want the negative publicity that violence would bring.
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A considerable amount of commotion was stirred up during the past year over the prospect of a multilateral force, known to the headline writers as MLF. Much of this discussion took place during the baseball season, so the Chronicle may not have covered it, but it did get a certain amount of publicity; and the basic idea was that a bunch of us nations, the good guys, would get together on a joint nuclear deterrent force including our current friends, like France, and our traditional friends, like Germany. Here's a song about that, called the MLF Lullaby:
Sleep, baby, sleep, in peace may you slumber, No danger lurks, your sleep to encumber. We've got the missiles, peace to determine, And one of the fingers on the button will be German. Why shouldn't they have nuclear warheads? England says no, but they all are soreheads. I say a bygone should be a bygone, Let's make peace the way we did in Stanleyville and Saigon. Once all the Germans were warlike and mean, But that couldn't happen again. We taught them a lesson in 1918 And they've hardly bothered us since then. So, sleep well, my darling, the sandman can linger. We know our buddies won't give us the finger. Heil—hail—the Wehrmacht, I mean the Bundeswehr, Hail to our loyal ally! M L F Will scare Brezhnev.1 I hope he is half as scared as I!
1 Leonid Brezhnev, 1906-1982. General Secretary of the Communist Party (1964), and President of the USSR from (1977), he ran the Soviet Union after the deposition of Nikita Kruschev.
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During the last election we had a good deal of fun back east following your senatorial contest out here. I'm from Massachusetts, and I feel that we have a certain right to gloat over the other states because Massachusetts is after all the only state with three senators.1 Anyway, here's a salute to your new junior senator:2
Hollywood's often tried to mix Show business with politics From Helen Gahagan3 To Ronald Reagan?4 But Mr. Murphy is the star Who's done the best by far. Oh, gee, it's great! At last we've got a senator who can really sing and dance. We can't expect America to win against its foes With no one in the Senate who can really tap his toes. The movies that you've seen On your television screen Show his legislative talents at a glance. Should Americans pick crops? George says «No», 'cause no one but a Mexican would stoop so low. And after all, even in Egypt, the pharaohs Had to import Hebrew braceros.5 Think of all the musicals we have in store. Imagine: Broadway Melody of Nineteen Eighty-Four.6 Yes, now that he's a Senator, he's really got the chance To give the public a song and dance!
1 At the time Bobby Kennedy was serving as Senator from New York.
2 George Murphy, 1902-1992, served as Senator from California from 1964-1970. This album was recorded at the «Hungry I» in San Francisco, hence the reference to «your» Junior Senator.
3 Helen Gahagan, 1900-1980. Broadway leading lady, opera singer, and movie star, who became a Congressman from California in 1944. After three terms, her liberal views became a liability in the post-war Red Scare, and she was defeated in 1950, by Richard Nixon, who claimed that she was pink right down to her underwear.
4 Ronald Reagan, born 1911. Like Murphy, another actor who went into politics
5 Slang term for a Mexican worker, living in the US.
6 Murphy starred in the movies Broadway Melody of 1938 and Broadway Melody of 1940
One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against, like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. But the nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which, I realize, should be accompanied on a folk instrument, in which category the piano does not, alas, qualify. So imagine, if you will, that I am playing an 88-string guitar!
We are the folk song army, Every one 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 couple 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?1 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!
1 General Francisco Franco, 1892-1975, fascist dictator who seized power in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. The losing Republican side was something of a cause celebre among American liberals.
I do have a cause, though, it is obscenity. I'm for it! (laughter) Thank you. Unfortunately, the civil liberties types who are fighting this issue have to fight it, owing to the nature of the laws, as a matter of freedom of speech and stifling of free expression and so on. But we know what's really involved: dirty books are fun! That's all there is to it. But you can't get up in a court and say that, I suppose. It's simply a matter of freedom of pleasure, a right which is not guaranteed by the Constitution, unfortunately. Anyway, since people seem to be marching for their causes these days, I have here a march for mine. It's called:
Smut! Give me smut and nothing but! A dirty novel I can't shut If it's uncut and unsubt-le. I've never quibbled If it was ribald. I would devour Where others merely nibbled. As the judge remarked the day that he acquitted my Aunt Hortense, «To be smut It must be ut- Terly without redeeming social importance.» Por- Nographic pictures I adore. Indecent magazines galore, I like them more If they're hard core. Bring on the obscene movies, murals, postcards, neckties, samplers, stained glass windows, tattoos, anything! More, more, I'm still not satisfied! Stories of tortures Used by debauchers Lurid, licentious and vile, Make me smile. Novels that pander To my taste for candor Give me a pleasure sublime. Let's face it I love slime! Old books can be indecent books, Though recent books are bolder. For filth, I'm glad to say, Is in the mind of the beholder. When correctly viewed, Everything is lewd. I could tell you things about Peter Pan And the Wizard of Oz—there's a dirty old man! I thrill To any book like Fanny Hill, And I suppose I always will If it is swill And really fil-thy. Who needs a hobby like tennis or philately? I've got a hobby: rereading Lady Chatterley. But now they're trying to take it all away from us unless We take a stand, and hand in hand we fight for freedom of the press. In other words: Smut! I love it. Ah, the adventures of a slut. Oh, I'm a market they can't glut. I don't know what Compares with smut. Hip, hip, hooray! Let's hear it for the Supreme Court! Don't let them take it away!
What with President Johnson practicing escalatio on the Vietnamese, and then the Dominican Crisis on top of that, it has been a nervous year, and people have begun to feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis. Fortunately, in times of crisis like this, America always has its number one instrument of diplomacy to fall back on. Here's a song about it:
When someone makes a move Of which we don't approve, Who is it that always intervenes? U.N. and O.A.S.,1 They have their place, I guess, But first—send the Marines! We'll send them all we've got, John Wayne and Randolph Scott; Remember those exciting fighting scenes? To the shores of Tripoli, But not to Mississippoli, What do we do? We send the Marines! For might makes right, And till they've seen the light, They've got to be protected, All their rights respected, Till somebody we like can be elected. Members of the corps All hate the thought of war; They'd rather kill them off by peaceful means. Stop calling it aggression, Ooh, we hate that expression! We only want the world to know That we support the status quo. They love us everywhere we go, So when in doubt, Send the Marines!
1 United Nations and Organization of American States
Time was when an American about to go abroad would be warned by his friends or the guidebooks not to drink the water. But times have changed, and now a foreigner coming to this country might be offered the following advice:
If you visit American city, You will find it very pretty. Just two things of which you must beware: Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air! Pollution, pollution! They got smog and sewage and mud. Turn on your tap And get hot and cold running crud! See the halibuts and the sturgeons Being wiped out by detergeons. Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, But they don't last long if they try. Pollution, pollution! You can use the latest toothpaste, And then rinse your mouth With industrial waste. Just go out for a breath of air And you'll be ready for Medicare. The city streets are really quite a thrill— If the hoods don't get you, the monoxide will. Pollution, pollution! Wear a gas mask and a veil. Then you can breathe, Long as you don't inhale! Lots of things there that you can drink, But stay away from the kitchen sink! The breakfast garbage that you throw into the Bay They drink at lunch in San José.1 So go to the city, See the crazy people there. Like lambs to the slaughter, They're drinking the water And breathing [cough] the air!
1 Since this album was recorded in San Francisco, this is the California version of this verse. In some live performances, he also sang a New York version, that went:
The breakfast garbage they throw out in Troy They drink at lunch in Perth Amboy.
And a Generic version that went:
Throw out your breakfast garbage and I have got a hunch that the folks downstream will drink it for lunch.
This year we've been celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War and the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of World War I and the twentieth anniversary of the end of World War II. So all in all, it's been a good year for the war buffs. And a number of LPs and television specials have come out capitalizing on all this nostalgia, with particular emphasis on the songs of the various wars.
I feel that if any songs are gonna come out of World War III, we'd better start writing them now. I have one here. Might call it a bit of pre-nostalgia.
This is the song that some of the boys sang as they went bravely off to World War III:1
So long, mom, I'm off to drop the bomb, So don't wait up for me. But while you swelter Down there in your shelter You can see me On your TV. While we're attacking frontally Watch Brinkally and Huntally2 Describing contrapuntally The cities we have lost. No need for you to miss a minute of the agonizing holocaust. Yeah! Little Johnny Jones, he was a US pilot, And no shrinking violet was he. He was mighty proud when World War III was declared. He wasn't scared, no siree! And this is what he said on His way to Armageddon: So long, mom, I'm off to drop the bomb, So don't wait up for me. But though I may roam, I'll come back to my home Although it may be A pile of debris. Remember, mommy, I'm off to get a commie, So send me a salami And try to smile somehow. I'll look for you when the war is over, An hour and a half from now!
1 In World War II, there was a popular song called Goodbye Momma, I'm Off to Yokahama. Alas, I haven't yet found the lyrics.
2 Chet Huntley (1911-1974) and David Brinkley (1920-2003), co-anchors of famed The Huntley-Brinkley Report, which ran from 1956-1970, and won Emmies in 1959 and 1960.
I wonder how many people here tonight remember Hubert Humphrey, he used to be a Senator. From time to time you read something about him pinning a medal on somebody or making a speech, or every now and then you read something in one of those where are they now columns: Whatever became of Deanna Durbin and Hubert Humphrey and so on.
This became quite an issue last winter at the time of Winston Churchill's funeral, when President Johnson was too ill to go and somebody suggested that he send Hubert and he said, «Hubert Who?» …and all America was singing:
Whatever became of Hubert? Has anyone heard a thing? Once he shone on his own, Now he sits home alone And waits for the phone to ring. Once a fiery liberal spirit, Ah, but now when he speaks, he must clear it. Second fiddle's a hard part, I know, When they don't even give you a bow. «We must protest this treatment, Hubert», Says each newspaper reader. As someone once remarked to Schubert, «Take us to your Lieder»… (Sorry about that.) Whatever became of you, Hubert? We miss you, so tell us, please: Are you sad? Are you cross? Are you gathering moss While you wait for the boss to sneeze? Does Lyndon, recalling when he was VP, Say «I'll do unto you like they did unto me»? Do you dream about staging a coup? Hubert what happened to you?
Some of you who have small children may have perhaps been put in the embarrassing position of being unable to do your child's arithmetic homework because of the current revolution in mathematics teaching known as the New Math. So as a public service here tonight, I thought I would offer a brief lesson in the New Math. Tonight, we're gonna cover subtraction. This is the first room I've worked for a while that didn't have a blackboard, so we will have to make do with more primitive visual aids, as they say in the ed biz. Consider the following subtraction problem, which I will put up here: 342 minus 173. Now, remember how we used to do that:
Three from two is nine, carry the one, and if you're under 35 or went to a private school, you say seven from three is six, but if you're over 35 and went to a public school, you say eight from four is six …and carry the one, so we have 169.
But in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing, rather than to get the right answer. Here's how they do it now:
You can't take three from two, Two is less than three, So you look at the four in the tens place. Now that's really four tens So you make it three tens, Regroup, and you change a ten to ten ones, And you add 'em to the two and get twelve, And you take away three, that's nine. Is that clear? Now instead of four in the tens place You've got three, 'Cause you added one, That is to say, ten, to the two, But you can't take seven from three, So you look in the hundreds place. From the three you then use one To make ten ones… (And you know why four plus minus one Plus ten is fourteen minus one? 'Cause addition is commutative, right!)… And so you've got thirteen tens And you take away seven, And that leaves five… Well, six actually… But the idea is the important thing! Now go back to the hundreds place, You're left with two, And you take away one from two, And that leaves…? Everybody get one? Not bad for the first day! Hooray for New Math, New-hoo-hoo Math, It won't do you a bit of good to review math. It's so simple, So very simple, That only a child can do it!
Now, that actually is not the answer that I had in mind, because the book that I got this problem out of wants you to do it in base eight. But don't panic! Base eight is just like base ten really—if you're missing two fingers! Shall we have a go at it? Hang on…
You can't take three from two, Two is less than three, So you look at the four in the eights place. Now that's really four eights, So you make it three eights, Regroup, and you change an eight to eight ones And you add 'em to the two, And you get one-two base eight, Which is ten base ten, And you take away three, that's seven. Ok? Now instead of four in the eights place You've got three, 'Cause you added one, That is to say, eight, to the two, But you can't take seven from three, So you look at the sixty-fours…
«Sixty-four? How did sixty-four get into it?» I hear you cry! Well, sixty-four is eight squared, don't you see? «Well, ya ask a silly question, ya get a silly answer!»
From the three, you then use one To make eight ones, You add those ones to the three, And you get one-three base eight, Or, in other words, In base ten you have eleven, And you take away seven, And seven from eleven is four! Now go back to the sixty-fours, You're left with two, And you take away one from two, And that leaves…? Now, let's not always see the same hands! One, that's right. Whoever got one can stay after the show and clean the erasers. Hooray for New Math, New-hoo-hoo Math! It won't do you a bit of good to review math. It's so simple, So very simple, That only a child can do it!
Come back tomorrow night…we're gonna do fractions!
Y'know, I've often thought I'd like to write a mathematics textbook someday because I have a title that I know will sell a million copies; I'm gonna call it Tropic of Calculus.1
1 A reference to Henry Miller's erotic novels, Tropic of Cancer, and Tropic of Capricorn
Last December 13th, there appeared in the newspapers the juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary it has ever been my pleasure to read. It was that of a lady named Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel1, who had, in her lifetime, managed to acquire as lovers practically all of the top creative men in central Europe. And, among these lovers2, who were listed in the obituary, by the way, which is what made it so interesting, there were three whom she went so far as to marry: One of the leading composers of the day, Gustav Mahler, composer of Das Lied von der Erde3 and other light classics; one of the leading architects, Walter Gropius, of the Bauhaus school of design; and one of the leading writers, Franz Werfel, author of the Song of Bernadette and other masterpieces.
It's people like that who make you realize how little you've accomplished. It is a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years!
It seemed to me, on reading this obituary, that the story of Alma was the stuff of which ballads should be made, so here is one:
The loveliest girl in Vienna
Was Alma, the smartest as well.
Once you picked her up on your antenna,
You'd never be free of her spell.
Her lovers were many and varied
From the day she began her—beguine.4
There were three famous ones whom she married,
And God knows how many between.
Alma, tell us,
All modern women are jealous,
Which of your magical wands
Got you Gustav and Walter and Franz?
The first one she married was Mahler,
Whose buddies all knew him as Gustav,
And each time he saw her he'd holler,
«Ach, that is the Fräulein I must have!»
Their marriage, however, was murdah.
He'd scream to the heavens above,
«I'm writing Das Lied von der Erde
And she only wants to make love!»
Alma, tell us,
All modern women are jealous.
You should have a statue in bronze
For bagging Gustav and Walter and Franz.
While married to Gus she met Gropius,
And soon she was swinging with Walter.
Gus died and her tear drops were copious,
She cried all the way to the altar.
But he would work late at the Bauhaus,
And only came home now and then.
She said, «What am I running, a chow house?
It's time to change partners again!»
Alma, tell us,
All modern women are jealous.
Though you didn't even use Ponds,
You got Gustav and Walter and Franz.
While married to Walt, she'd met Werfel,
And he, too, was caught in her net.
He married her but he was carefel,
'Cause Alma was no Bernadette.
And that is the story of Alma,
Who knew how to receive and to give.
The body that reached her embalma
Was one that had known how to live.
Alma, tell us,
How can they help being jealous?
Ducks always envy the swans
Who get Gustav and Walter,
You never did falter
With Gustav and Walter and Franz.
I know some people feel that marriage as an institution is dying out, but I disagree. And the point was driven home to me rather forcefully not long ago by a letter I received which said: «Darling, I love you, and I cannot live without you. Marry me, or I will kill myself.» Well, I was a little disturbed at that until I took another look at the envelope, and saw that it was addressed to occupant…
Speaking of love, one problem that recurs more and more frequently these days, in books and plays and movies, is the inability of people to communicate with the people they love: husbands and wives who can't communicate, children who can't communicate with their parents, and so on. And the characters in these books and plays and so on, and in real life, I might add, spend hours bemoaning the fact that they can't communicate. I feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up!
1 aka Alma Mahler-Werfel, born Alma Schindler; 1879-1964. Daughter of the painter Emil Jakob Schindler.
2 Among them were the artist Gustav Klimt, composer Arnold Schoenberg, writer Gerhart Hauptman, composer Alban Berg, singer Enrico Caruso, composer Alexander Zemlinksy, artist Oskar Kokoschka, and Professor Johannes Hollnsteiner.
3 Das Lied von der Erde (aka The Song of the Earth), a very heavy piece of music written by Mahler when he knew he was dying.
4 A reference to Cole Porter's song title, Begin the Beguine, a song popular in the Big Band Era (a beguine being a ballroom dance similar to a rumba).
One of the big news items of the past year concerned the fact that China, which we call Red China, exploded a nuclear bomb, which we called a device. Then Indonesia announced that it was gonna have one soon, and proliferation became the word of the day. Here's a song about that.
First we got the bomb and that was good, 'Cause we love peace and motherhood. Then Russia got the bomb, but that's O.K., 'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way! Who's next? France got the bomb, but don't you grieve, 'Cause they're on our side (I believe). China got the bomb, but have no fears; They can't wipe us out for at least five years!1 Who's next? Then Indonesia claimed that they Were gonna get one any day. South Africa wants two, that's right: One for the black and one for the white!2 Who's next? Egypt's gonna get one, too, Just to use on you know who. So Israel's getting tense, Wants one in self defense. «The Lord's our shepherd,» says the psalm, But just in case, we better get a bomb! Who's next? Luxembourg is next to go And, who knows, maybe Monaco. We'll try to stay serene and calm When Alabama gets the bomb! Who's next, who's next, who's next? Who's next?
1 An oblique reference to the Five Year Plans carried out by China and the Soviet Union, each of which focused on improving some specific area of industry.
2 At the time, South Africa's Apartheid system of segregation still kept the nation strongly divided along racial lines.
And what is it that put America in the forefront of the nuclear nations? And what is it that will make it possible to spend twenty billion dollars of your money to put some clown on the moon? Well, it was good old American know how, that's what, as provided by good old Americans like Dr. Wernher von Braun!1
Gather 'round while I sing you of Wernher
A man whose allegiance
Is ruled by expedience.
Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown,
«Ha, Nazi, Schmazi,» says Wernher von Braun.
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.
Some have harsh words for this man of renown,
But some think our attitude
Should be one of gratitude,
Like the widows and cripples in old London town,
Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun.2
You too may be a big hero,
Once you've learned to count backwards to zero.
«In German oder English I know how to count down,
Und I'm learning Chinese!» says Wernher von Braun.
1 Wernher von Braun, 1912-1977. The most famous of the Nazi rocket scientists brought to the US after World War II, who later went on to help design NASA's Saturn V rocket, that went to the moon.
2 Von Braun had helped design the German V-I and V-II rockets that attacked London.
Another big news story of the year concerned the ecumenical council in Rome, known as Vatican II. Among the things they did, in an attempt to make the church more… commercial, was to introduce the vernacular into portions of the Mass to replace Latin, and to widen somewhat the range of music permissible in the liturgy. But I feel that if they really want to sell the product in this secular age, what they ought to do is to redo some of the liturgical music in popular song forms. I have a modest example here; it's called The Vatican Rag!
First you get down on your knees, Fiddle with your rosaries, Bow your head with great respect, And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect! Do whatever steps you want if You have cleared them with the Pontiff. Everybody say his own Kyrie eleison, Doin' the Vatican Rag. Get in line in that processional, Step into that small confessional. There the guy who's got religion'll Tell you if your sin's original. If it is, try playin' it safer, Drink the wine and chew the wafer, Two, four, six, eight, Time to transubstantiate! So get down upon your knees, Fiddle with your rosaries, Bow your head with great respect, And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect! Make a cross on your abdomen, When in Rome do like a Roman; Ave Maria, Gee, it's good to see ya. Gettin' ecstatic an' sorta dramatic an' Doin' the Vatican Rag!
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This song was written for the PBS children's show «The Electric Company» in 1971. It appeared on an Electric Company album, and later a Sesame Street album. Both of these releases were stereo. It appears in mono as a bonus track on the CD of Tom Lehrer Revisited.
Who can turn a can into a cane? Who can turn a pan into a pane? It's not too hard to see, It's Silent E. Who can turn a cub into a cube? Who can turn a tub into a tube? It's elementary For Silent E. He took a pin and turned it into a pine. He took a twin and turned him into twine. Who can turn a cap into a cape? Who can turn a tap into a tape? A little glob becomes a globe instantly, If you just add Silent E. He turned a dam—Alikazam!—into a dame. But my friend Sam stayed just the same. Who can turn a man into a mane? Who can turn a van into a vane? A little hug becomes huge instantly. Don't add W, Don't add X, And don't add Y or Z, Just add Silent E.
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This song was written for «The Electric Company» TV show in 1972, but was never released on record until it showed up in 1990 as a bonus track on the CD of Tom Lehrer Revisited.
You're wearing your squeaky shoes, And right there taking a snooze Is a tiger, so how do you walk on by? [loud whisper] Silently, silently, Silent L.Y. You're a secret agent man Who's after the secret plan. How do you act so they don't know you're a spy? [acting suspiciously] Normally [whistle], normally [whistle], Normal L.Y. At an eating contest you boast That you can eat the most. How do you down your fiftieth piece of pie? [nauseated] Eagerly (ugh!), eagerly (yech!), Eager L.Y. On the lake your boat upset, And your clothes got soaking wet. How do you stand and wait for them to dry? [shivering] D-d-d-d-d-d-patiently, D-d-d-d-d-d-patiently, D-d-d-d-d-d-patient L.Y. In the public library You fall and hurt your knee. But the sign says QUIET PLEASE, so how can you cry? [crying] Quietly [sniff], quietly [sniff], Quiet L.Y. As you walk along the street A porcupine you meet. How do you shake his hand when he says «hi»? [warily] Ah, carefully, carefully, Careful L.Y. You enter a very dark room, And sitting there in the gloom Is Dracula. Now how do you say goodbye? Immediately, immediately, Immediate L.Y. Bye bye!
All text and pictures on this page is right out copied/stolen/adapted from: http://members.aol.com/quentncree/lehrer/ —Since I prefer having everything on one page.
Among other info about Tom Lehrer, please also refer to these pages on the Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lehrer http://www.casualhacker.net/tom.lehrer/ http://www.iankitching.me.uk/humour/lehrer/ http://php.indiana.edu/~jbmorris/lehrer.html