Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tom Lehrer - musical genius and jello shot inventer

I used to see this guy on TV from time to time throughout my childhood and his performances off and on throughout my life, on PBS and in the odd places on TV, and now on YouTube. He was brilliant, refreshing, mocking, and I stopped everything I was doing when I noticed him on somewhere. I also was a fan of political satirist, Mark Russell.

Here is a summary article from the Onion's A/V Club site:

"Tom Lehrer's creative legacy is far greater than the size of his catalog: The singer, pianist, teacher, mathematician, and political satirist influenced countless humorists and remains a staple on Dr. Demento's radio show, but his body of work consists of only a few dozen different songs; perhaps most notably, his Periodic Table Elements Song.

"Those songs, most of them recorded and released between 1953 and 1965--though he wrote a few for the children's TV show The Electric Company in the early '70s--remain widely circulated, with more than two million albums sold. The material still sounds fresh today: "The Vatican Rag" joyously lampoons Catholicism, "The Old Dope Peddler" sings the praises of drug dealers, "Folk Song Army" chides self-righteous activists, "National Brotherhood Week" mocks racism and political correctness in one fell swoop, and so on.

"Whether he's dealing in the darkly absurd ("Poisoning Pigeons In The Park") or the politically pointed ("Who's Next?"), Lehrer's snide delivery remains a constant throughout his music, virtually all of which has been compiled (along with three new songs) on Rhino's new three-disc box set, The Remains Of Tom Lehrer.

"Since 1972, Lehrer has refrained from performing--he officially retired in 1967 but made a few appearances over the next five years--choosing instead to focus on his work teaching mathematics and a course in the American musical at the University of California at Santa Cruz." -- from Stephen Thompson at the Onion A/V Club (2000) where there is an interview with Tom Lehrer.

Want some more about Tom?

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