I was thinking about my dad today. Actually, I think about him at some point most days. Dad passed away 8 year ago, and largely unintentionally, he very much made me a lot of what I am today. Among the things he made me appreciate was really good comedy. The Marx Brothers and WC Fields. He also, just by osmosis, gave me a real appreciation for satire, which brings me to Tom Lehrer.
Some of what’s on this page is very politically incorrect.
Dad had Tom Lehrer records. My favorite was “That Was the Year that Was”, recorded in 1964. Dad, of course, had it on vinyl. I have a couple of CD’s, and they’re increasingly hard to find.
Still, in this election year, I go back and listen to some of this stuff and am amazed that so many of the issues are exactly the same. Only the names of the country’s leaders have changed.
Above, “Send the Marines”. One can’t help but think about Iraq when you listen to this minute-13 ditty. And when it comes to Iran, or North Korea, try out “Who’s Next”.
Here in Jacksonville, where life revolves around the St. Johns River and the Atlantic ocean, there is a lot of concern about the environment. One weekend, when the river was one of the topics on “Week in Review”, I convinced the show’s producer to use a clip from Tom Leher’s “Pollution” as one of the bumps. OK, I played it for him, and he convinced me. Fortunately, things have cleaned up some since this was written back in the early ’60s, but much of it still rings true.
And, with so much talk of religion in what passes for political discourse these days, I have to go back to “The Vatican Rag”.
There are tons more. Go to YouTube and look for “So Long Mom” or “New Math” in which he posits that it’s more important to get the concept than to come up with the correct answer. It’s truly amazing to me how much the issues haven’t changed in the past 45 years. We’re still worried about nuclear proliferation, the environment, nation building, religion, and education. Not bad for a Harvard math professor who happened to be able to play the piano.
So, thanks dad. Thanks for buying these records and leaving them where I could listen. I only hope that by the time my daughter’s 50, she’ll be able to look back on some of these issues with nostalgia, rather than noting how “they’re still the same”.