Tom Lehrer has a short and brilliant career. He retired to lecture in mathematics and teach musical theater in California. Here is the beginning of an appreciation at Topless Robot:
If you’re wondering who this Tom Lehrer guy is and what he’s doing on a site devoted largely to action figure news and stories about Care Bears raping each other, let me introduce you to one of the genius forefathers of popular nerdism. Coming to prominence in the Jewish comedy boom of postwar America, Lehrer brought academic satire to the masses with his dry demeanor and winkingly corny songs about chemistry, mathematics, and nuclear physicists, among other subjects. Some of his most perennial tunes include “The Masochism Tango”, “Lobachevsky” and the inescapable “The Elements”, still sung by Harry Potter actors everywhere (Isaac Asimov, too, has gone on record as a fan). Also he was allegedly one of the pioneers of the jello shot, so we all owe him a debt of thanks regardless of the shade of your particular nerdly stripes. (Continue Reading…)
Lehrer’s pick of liner notes concludes his interesting Wikipedia profile:
- “Mr. Lehrer’s muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste.” — The New York Times (9 February 1959)
- “More desperate than amusing” — New York Herald Tribune
- “He seldom has any point to make except obvious ones” — The Christian Science Monitor
- “Plays the piano acceptably” — The Oakland Tribune
Above is We All Will Go Together When We Go and below is The Elements.