Tom Lehrer, whose lyrical wit hovers between "acerbic" and "acidulous," in sharp and delightful contrast to his upbeat, Broadwayesque tunes, turns 90 this month, and he is, notably, still turning.
He's not turning out new songs; he's not written much since Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973,* an event he said, "Made political satire obsolete."
It's a pity. Agree or disagree with some of his more-partisan stances, you can hardly dislike such gems as "National Brotherhood Week," "Lobachevsky†," or "The Elements." Tom Lehrer made erudition a doorway to humor -- and with eloquent cleverness, lampooned a lot of things too often taken for granted. We could use more of that.
* In fairness, Kissinger tried to give it back after the Vietnam cease-fire failed. Turns out the Nobel doesn't work that way, no doubt to the acute relief of later winners.
† "...Some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder, therefore, how they got that way...." always gets a smile or a snicker from me.
5 months ago