Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tom Lehrer turns 9*9 today!

Today (April 9) Tom Lehrer turns 81=92. To celebrate I post some lesser known Tom L songs. I post all that did not appear on any of his CD's. Note that The remains of Tom Lehrer, his 3-CD boxed set, already had several songs that had not appeared on any of his prior available work. (I got it from Agnes, Thats Math (short version- long version is on Dr. Demento Basement tapes No. 4), Selling Out, I've spending Hannakuh in Santa Monica, L-Y, Silent E, O-U, S-N. L-Y and Silent E had appeared as extras on CD versions of his Vinyl records.) Hence to NOT even appear on the boxed-set makes it rather rare. Or is it? Its on You-Tube so how rare can it be? (I discussed this in an earlier blog here.)

Derivative Song. Likely did not appear on any CD because the audience for this is too small. Also might have been copyright problems as he used someone elses tune (See comment on THE PROFESSORS SONG later in this post.)

Decimal. GREAT song. Likely did not appear since its a bit dated and the context is now lost. The best of the rare songs. To the tune of his own New Math

The professor's song. GREAT song. Don't know why it's not in the boxed set--- no copyright problems since he used a Gilbert and Sullivan Tune which is public domain (Tom L always used his own tunes to avoid legal issues. The only exceptions are this song and The Elements which also used a Gilbert and Sullivan Tune.)

Subway Song. Not that good. However, note that 90% of Tom L's stuff is excellent. Weird Al has generated many more novelty songs, but only 50% are excellent. So who is better? It depends on how you measure. I, of course, like both of them. Incidentally, Weird Al did one math song for Square One TV: Polka Patterns. At one time that was a rare item in my collection. But now Its on you-tube so how rare can it be? @


  1. Lance, thank you for this post! Lehrer is a true genius, and IMHO, the more comic songs that humanity knows, the better.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. John S, actually it was
    GASARCH not Lance who did this post. Normally GASARCH would not bother with the correction, but he takes
    pride in his knowledge of Math Novelty songs, and novelty songs in general.


  4. Thanks for the correction, GASARCH!

    My son and I recently took a road trip together, on which he introduced me to JONATHAN COULTON ... whose comic song RE: YOUR BRAINS is pure genius, IMHO!

    Seriously Bill ... by which I guess I mean, NOT seriously Bill ... any further pointers to comic songs/artists you might provide would be very welcome ...

    Especially by young artists ... `cuz I sure like to hope that the flame of comic rebellion still burns brightly. Jonathon Coulton's song did much to restore my faith! :)

  5. GASARCH, I can't help pointing out that I, ANONYMOUS, find it incredibly ANNOYING that you refer to ***YOURSELF*** in all CAPITALS. Also when you refer to ***YOURSELF*** in the third PERSON. In the modern age of the INTERNET, it is considered extremely RUDE.

  6. Oh yeah, my son also introduced me to a comic --- Dinosaur Comics --- that frequently covers issues of math, science, and (especially) cognition.

    You will soon notice that the art of Dinosaur Comics is somewhat static ... as static as the axioms of mathematics ... which contributes immensely to its dinosaur magic.