“Christmas time is right here, by golly / Disapproval could be folly / Deck the halls with hunks of holly / Fill the cup and don’t say ‘when.’” So sings musical satirist Tom Lehrer on his hit 1959 album An Night Wasted with Tom Lehrer — which was recorded in March of that 12 months, not that it stopped him from taking an out-of-season jab on the holidays. “Kill the turkeys, geese and chickens / Combine the punch, drag out the Dickens / Despite the fact that the prospect sickens / Brother, right here we go once more.” If it appears to you that he takes a dim view of Christmas, it is best to hear how he sings about the whole lot else.
Now, extra simply than ever, you’ll be able to hear how Lehrer sings about the whole lot else, by merely downloading his music from his web page. “All copyrights to lyrics or music written or composed by me have been relinquished, and due to this fact such songs at the moment are within the public area,” he writes. “All of my songs which have by no means been copyrighted, having been obtainable without spending a dime for therefore lengthy, at the moment are additionally within the public area.” Briefly, he provides, “I not retain any rights to any of my songs.” We posted concerning the launch of these songs themselves into the Public Area a pair years in the past, however final month Lehrer made the songs obtainable on-line–for a restricted time.
Not solely is An Night Wasted with Tom Lehrer free to stream or obtain on TomLehrerSongs.com — full with tracks not obtainable even on Spotify — so is its follow-up Revisited, That Was the 12 months That Was (that includes performances of the songs he wrote for the American model of That Was the Week That Was) and the three-disc assortment The Stays of Tom Lehrer. Collectively these albums comprise all of the music Lehrer recorded earlier than he stood up from the piano and have become a professor, first of political science and later of arithmetic (although he did educate some musical theater as properly.)
Given his secular Jewish origins and his apparent disdain for the Mammonistic vacation season (no less than “as we rejoice it in the US”) Lehrer would certainly get fun from us taking this free launch of all his music as a Christmas present. And but, like all one of the best Christmas items, it has each a floor worth and a deeper one. Regardless of their topical late-fifties-early-sixties references to issues like “new math” and Vatican II, his songs can nonetheless make us giggle as we speak. However they will additionally present youthful generations a satirical sensibility they’ve by no means identified: culturally literate, dry with well-placed plunges into the lowbrow, transgressive with out low cost crudity, all supported by musical aplomb. Perhaps Lehrer determined to make his music free as a result of now, in his tenth decade, he can make sure that no one will surpass him. Discover his music right here.
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.