Monday, June 26, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Tom Lehrer


American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician.
Tom Lehrer
So get down upon your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!
Lehrer quotes
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.
Lehrer
The audience usually has to be with you, I'm afraid. I always regarded myself as not even preaching to the converted, I was titillating the converted.
The audiences like to think that satire is doing something. But, in fact, it is mostly to leave themselves satisfied. Satisfied rather than angry, which is what they should be.




Lehrer Tom quotes
You can make fun with Saddam Hussein jokes ... but you can't make fun of, say, the concentration camps. I think my target was not so much evil, but benign stupidity people doing stupid things without realising or, instead, thinking they were doing good
Lehrer Tom
I’ve always kind of considered him the J. D. Salinger of demented music. ~ "Weird Al" Yankovic
Tom Lehrer quotes
Andrew Wiles gently smiles,
Does his thing, and voila!
Q.E.D., we agree,
And we all shout hurrah!
As he confirms what Fermat
Jotted down in that margin,
Which could've used some enlargin'.
Tom Lehrer
I find enough mystery in mathematics to satisfy my spiritual needs. I think, for example, that pi is mysterious enough (don't get me started!) without having to worry about God. Or if pi isn't enough, how about fractals? or quantum mechanics?
Lehrer Tom quotes
It's only for a week so have no fear!/
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!
Lehrer
The real issues I don't think most people touch. The Clinton jokes are all about Monica Lewinsky and all that stuff and not about the important things, like the fact that he wouldn't ban landmines.
Lehrer Tom
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.
Tom Lehrer
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.




Tom Lehrer quotes
Things are much more complicated. Feminism versus pornography, for example. There are a lot of feminists who think it is bad, but others think it's good. I have become, you might call it mature — I would call it senile — and I can see both sides. But you can't write a satirical song with 'but on the other hand' in it, or 'however'. It's got to be one-sided.
Tom Lehrer
You know, of all the songs I have ever sung, that is the one I've had the most requests not to.
Lehrer quotes
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.
Lehrer Tom
"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 times of crisis and universal brouhaha.
Lehrer Tom quotes
When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.
My pulse will be quickenin',
With each drop of strych-a-nine,
We feed to a pigeon
it just takes a smidgen
To poison a pigeon in the park.
Tom Lehrer
I'm not tempted to write a song about George W.Bush. I couldn't figure out what sort of song I would write. That's the problem: I don't want to satirise George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporise them. And that's not funny. ... OK, well, if I say that, I might get a shock laugh, but it's not really satire.
Tom Lehrer quotes
I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!
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".
Tom Lehrer
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.
Lehrer Tom
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 Werfel, who had, in her lifetime, managed to acquire as lovers practically all of the top creative men in central Europe. And, among these lovers, 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 Erde" 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.


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