(Roughly) Daily

“I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!”*…

After this post, your correspondent begins his annual Holiday Hiatus, so let me pass along a gift. Regular service will resume on January 2; meantime, thanks to you all for reading– and Happy Holidays!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the remarkable Tom Lehrer

Between the… Weird Al biopic and and Kelly Bachman and Dylan Adler’s new comedy album, Rape Victims Are Horny Too, parody songsters have rarely been such a central part of the cultural zeitgeist. Yet comedy musicians have been trailblazing for much longer than we may realize, and before the popularity of Weird Al, or even Bo Burnham, Adam Sandler, and Steve Martin, there was Tom Lehrer.

Lehrer is perhaps best known for “The Elements,” an impossibly fast and impossibly tongue-twisty song that consists of all the periodic elements put to the tune of a “Major-General’s Song” from Pirates of Penzance. This is a classic Tom Lehrer song, so classic in fact that Daniel Radcliffe’s rendition of it on The Graham Norton Show helped score him the role of Weird Al, who has noted Lehrer as a major comedic influence. This full circle loop only emphasizes how important Lehrer was and continues to be in the musical comedy scene, and diving into his diverse oeuvre solidifies just how innovative he was…

Tom Lehrer Deserves Your Attention” (source of the photo above)

And it’s now easier than ever for you to pay him that attention: the remarkable Mr. Lehrer is also remarkably generous. Last month, a new web site appeared, the home page of which explains…

I, Tom Lehrer, and the Tom Lehrer Trust 2007, hereby grant the following permissions:

All copyrights to lyrics or music written or composed by me have been relinquished, and therefore such songs are now in the public domain. All of my songs that have never been copyrighted, having been available for free for so long, are now also in the public domain.

The latter includes all lyrics which I have written to music by others, although the music to such parodies, if copyrighted by their composers, are of course not included without permission of their copyright owners. The translated songs on this website may be found on YouTube in their original languages.

Performing and recording rights to all of my songs are included in this permission. Translation rights are also included….

The site contains all of his lyrics, and free streaming and downloadable versions of all of his albums– a satirical gold mine: “Songs and Lyrics by Tom Lehrer.”

* Tom Lehrer

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As we soak ourselves in satire, we might recall that it was on this date in 1986 that Fran Oz’s film Little Shop of Horrors premiered. Based on the Off-Broadway musical adaptation of the 1960 original Roger Corman movie, it was a huge success with critics and a modest success with audiences on release, but has since become cult film.

As Oz’s friend and Muppet colleague Jim Henson said, “the lip sync on the plant in that film is just absolutely amazing.”

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 19, 2022 at 1:00 am

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