Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tom Lehrer

Another from the same table top sale as the Flanders & Swann. A 10" LP on Decca from 1952/53. Gentle and sometimes pithy social commentary songs about the old dope peddler, boy scouts and the American pre-occupation with guns, to name but a few.

Wikipedia says  -  " Lehrer was born in 1928 to a Jewish family in the New York City borough of Manhattan, and began studying classical piano music at the age of seven. He was more interested in the popular music of the age, however. Eventually, his mother also sent him to a popular-music piano teacher. At this early age, he began writing his own show tunes, which eventually helped him in his future adventures as a satirical composer and writer in his years of lecturing at Harvard University, and later at other universities.Lehrer graduated from the Horace Mann School in Riverdale, NY. He attended Camp Androscoggin, both as a camper and a counselor.While studying mathematics as an undergraduate student at Harvard College, he began to write comic songs to entertain his friends, including "Fight Fiercely, Harvard" (1945). Those songs were later named The Physical Revue, a joking reference to a leading scientific journal, The Physical Review.
Lehrer earned his AB in mathematics (magna cum laude) from Harvard University in 1946, when he was nineteen. He received his MA degree the next year, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He taught classes at MIT, Harvard, and Wellesley.
He remained in Harvard's doctoral program for several years, taking time out for his musical career and to work as a researcher at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. He served in theU.S. Army from 1955 to 1957, working at the National Security Agency. (Lehrer has stated that he invented the Jell-O Shot during this time, as a means of circumventing liquor restrictions.) All of these experiences eventually became fodder for songs, viz. "Fight Fiercely, Harvard", "The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be" and "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier". Despite holding a master's degree in an era when American conscripts often lacked a high school diploma, Lehrer served as an enlisted soldier, achieving the rank of Specialist Third Class (later retitled "Specialist-4" and currently "Specialist"), which he described as being a "corporal without portfolio". In 1960, Lehrer returned to full-time studies at Harvard, but he never completed his doctoral studies in mathematics.
From 1962, he taught in the political science department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1972, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz, teaching an introductory course entitled "The Nature of Mathematics" to liberal arts majors—"Math for Tenors", according to Lehrer. He also taught a class in musical theater. He occasionally performed songs in his lectures, primarily those relating to the topic.
In 2001, Lehrer taught his last mathematics class (on the topic of infinity) and retired from academia.[ He has remained in the area, and in 2003 said he still "hangs out" around theUniversity of California, Santa Cruz."

Tom Lehrer  -  Side One.

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