A Short Guide to the Songs

Tom Lehrer Revisited

An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer

That Was the Year That Was

Biographical data on Tom Lehrer, guaranteed to be at least as accurate as a Miss Cleo psychic reading.

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park is a gay spring song, proselytizing for one of the author's favorite avocations.

National Brotherhood Week
A celebration of a 60's holiday in which racial strife was put on hold, giving the perpetrators time to rest, recuperate, and reload.

I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
Here we have a typical Dixie song, all about the many delightful features of the South.

The generic college alma mater is epitomized in Bright College Days.

Expounding on the whole peace-through-superior-firepower theme, The MLF Lullaby recognizes Germans-with-nukes as the ultimate peacekeeping weapon in NATO's arsenal.

The Wild West Is Where I Wanna Be
A 20th century cowboy song about the wonders of the present day Wild West, as described in the few news stories that penetrate to the East.

The spirit of 20th-Century American Christmas - that cherished season during which we honor the nation's manufacturers - is glorified in A Christmas Carol.

The only Lehrer song even more out of date than The Elements, this one describes the career of America's most successful actor-turned-politician. We refer naturally, to California's own former Senator George Murphy

The Old Dope Peddler
Dedicated to that member of the community who goes modestly and inconspicuously about his job of spreading happiness among his fellow citizens, but who has never been properly recognized in song or story.

The Elements is simply a setting of the names of 102 chemical elements to the tune of the Major-General's song from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan; the words of its last line were true as of the date of the recording, but are so no longer.

The Folk Song Army
A celebration of the militant folk song's power as a self-help tool, outweighing even its usefulness for bringing about social change.

Fight Fiercely, Harvard
Most football fight songs have a tendency to be somewhat uncouth and violent. This one, however, written for the author's Alma Mater, is rather dainty and thus fills a need which has long been felt.

Oedipus Rex is a suggested title song for a recent motion picture version of the classic tragedy by Sophocles.

A constitutional defense of pornography; more candid in its motivations than most similar efforts.

The composer happens to be a mathematician in real life, and this is his description of one way to get ahead in that field (or, for that matter, in any academic field). (Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (1793-1856), incidentally, was a genuine mathematician, whose best-known contributions were in the field of geometry.)

In Old Mexico is a paean to our good neighbor.

Send the Marines
explores further the concept of aggressive diplomacy, and the customer service principle of knowing the buyer's needs before he's even aware of them himself.

The Irish Ballad
The folk song has in recent years become the particular form of idiocy of the intellectual fringe. Here, for these elite, is an ancient Irish ballad; it is complete with modal tune, simple story line, and inane refrain, but it differs from other ancient ballads in that it was written in 1950.

What might have happened if professional song writers (in this case Cole Porter, Mozart, any real cool cat, and Gilbert and Sullivan) had written folk songs is illustrated in Clementine.

A song about Pollution
which seems to imply that the water pollution problem might be solved by importing from Mexico. (Thank you, no.)

The Hunting Song
During the hunting season one finds countless items in the news concerning individuals who have shot other individuals under the impression that the latter were deer, rabbits, squirrels, or other fauna. This song is written to herald this encouraging new trend in a grand old sport.

It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier concerns the peacetime army, not as the author experienced it himself, it must be confessed, but as he believes purchasers of his records would like to think he experienced it.

Since all wars need songs, and since World War III may not last long enough for any to be written, So Long, Mom (I'm Off to Drop the Bomb) presents one early. Just the thing for singing in the shelter while you're waiting for the rats to take over the world.

My Home Town
One of those exercises in nostalgia in which the singer tells you what a great place his home town is.

She's My Girl is another love song, this one the male equivalent of the more usual variety involving a woman married to a man with no redeeming qualities.

Whatever Became of Hubert?
A tribute to Hubert Humphrey, and the Great Sinkhole of American Politics into which he tragically fell.

When You Are Old and Grey
The love song is of course by far the most popular species of American song. Here are three important subspecies:
1) the no-matter-how-moldy-and-decrepit-you-get-I'll-always- feel-the-same type.

Another love song, this one of the fiery, passionate variety is a little number we like to call The Masochism Tango.

New Math provides a crash course in the subject for those parents whose children may not be immediately available to explain it to them.

The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
2) The gay, lilting, Old-Vienna-ad-nauseum-gemütlichkeit waltz.

A reassuring look into the future, ending the record on an inspirational note, is provided by the last song, a modern revival hymn called We Will All Go Together When We Go.

A ballad celebrating the life of one of the great women of the early 20th century, whose life was dedicated to keeping the top creative minds of Central Europe free from pent-up tension.

I Hold Your Hand in Mine
3) The tender ballad.

Who's Next?
No, not Bill Goldberg's theme song. This is a quick rundown (current as of 1965) as to who had the bomb and who was close. Useful for those taking bets on which direction destruction would come from.

Be Prepared
This song, whose title is of course the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, is a rousing anthem dedicated to that worthy institution.

Wernher von Braun
A stirring tribute to the life and accomplishments of one of our most famous American rocket scientists.

A song written for the children's show, Electric Company, for the purpose of drilling into the kid's heads the fact that some words end with the letters "ly". A lot more interesting than it sounds, but then it would have to be.

The Vatican Rag
Building on Vatican II's move towards mainstreaming and vernacularizing the Catholic mass, this song takes the process one step further by converting traditionally hoary liturgical music into popular song form.

Silent E
Another Electric Company song, this one dedicated to illustrating the nearly interesting fact that adding a silent E to the end of a word may sometimes change it into another word.
Like rub/rube, jap/jape, and crap/crape. (Not those specific words, this is for kids remember, but like that.)

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No pigeons were harmed in the creation of this website. Bulls, squirrels, cows, game wardens, and daughters of miner-49'ers are another story however.

Descriptions on this page for Introduction, L-Y, Silent E, and all songs on the album That Was the Year That Was, written by moi. All others taken from the album covers of Songs by Tom Lehrer, and More Songs by Tom Lehrer.

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