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Tom Lehrer

Thomas Andrew Lehrer (born 9 April 1928) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, satirist, and mathematician, who later taught mathematics and musical theater. He recorded pithy and humorous songs that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. His songs often parodied popular musical forms, though they usually had original melodies. Lehrer's early performances dealt with non-topical subjects and dark humor in songs such as "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park". In the 1960s, he produced songs about timely social and political issues, particularly for the U.S. version of the television show That Was the Week That Was. The popularity of these songs has far outlasted their topical subjects and references. Lehrer quoted a friend's explanation: "Always predict the worst and you'll be hailed as a prophet." In the early 1970s, Lehrer largely retired from public performance to devote his time to teaching mathematics and musical theater history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


[I’m Spending] Ḥanukkah in Santa Monica, by Tom Lehrer (1990)

Contributed on: 23 Feb 2023 by Tom Lehrer |

“[I’m Spending] Hanukkah in Santa Monica” by Tom Lehrer was first written at the request of Garrison Keillor for his radio show The American Radio Company on which it was performed twice, in 1990 and 1992. The song was later released on the album, Bible & Beyond (Larry Milder, 1999). The first recording of Tom Lehrer singing his song can be heard on The Remains of Tom Lehrer (Disc 3) (2000). In 2022, Tom Lehrer gave an enormous Ḥanukkah present to the world, dedicating his entire oeuvre to the Public Domain including this song. . . .

National Brotherhood Week, by Tom Lehrer (1965)

Contributed on: 23 Feb 2023 by Aharon N. Varady (editing/transcription) | Tom Lehrer |

National Brotherhood Week” by Tom Lehrer was first released on his album “That Was The Year That Was” (1965). National Brotherhood Week in February was first established in the 1930s by the National Conference of Christians and Jews as a means of promoting the values of inter-religious tolerance and civic interdependence. The week gained federal support from President Franklin Roosevelt during World War Ⅱ as a means of combatting fascist and nativist objections to a vision of democracy built on the foundation of a multicultural civil society. By the time Tom Lehrer lampooned the civic commemoration in 1965, the McCarthyite oppressions of the Red Scare and Lavender Scare during the Cold War, the manufactured Vietnam War, lingering anti-Semitic prejudice and suspicion, the continued struggle for civil rights with its continued lynchings, the assassination of JFK and increasing political violence had all exposed National Brotherhood Week for many young adults as phony, a historical relic that had lost the import of any cultural imperative it might have once possessed. . . .

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