Album: More of Tom Lehrer and An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer, 1959
Justification: This recently came up in a flurry of trawling for hilarious songs on YouTube while dining with with dear friends Alex and Emma Mustakov, and I’m unsure why I brought it up since the other criteria of the night was “songs that are incredibly filthy or at the very least egregiously sexual”. There was a lot of R Kelly going on, basically, and I guess I wanted to class things up a bit. And nothing is more classy than this perky odd to animal torture, sung by a Harvard-educated academic (yes, really: Lehrer was a mathematician and lectured at Harvard, MIT, Wellesley and the University of California, in mathematics, political science and – of course –musical theatre) and master satirist, reminding us that a) smart people are funny, and b) more words rhyme with “pigeon” that you’d necessarily think. By which I mean “two”.
It was introduced to me by much-missed former colleague Alexandra Coghlan whose thought processes clearly went something like “Andrew is a smartarse, and this is the sort of thing that would appeal to smartarses.” Except she’d never put it those term, because she is an impressively erudite and articulate woman who would use a far more engaging term than “smartarse”, as well as being a demure English Rose with an archetypical BBC accent and crisp diction that at once evokes village fêtes, tea on the lawn and the glory days of the Raj. And I am forever grateful to her for doing so, although now I have this outlier from 1959 on what is otherwise an unbroken 47 years of Songs You Should Rediscover, which is going to drive the highly-suppressed OCD part of me into a tizzy.
I may be misremembering, but I’m pretty sure my grandfather wasn’t above playing the odd Tom Lehrer song when he was feeling expansive at the piano.
Fun fact #1: Lehrer claims to have invented the jello shot while he was working the National Security Agency during the 50s. It was presumably not as a method of enhancing national security, though.
Fun fact #2: Lehrer was university buddies with songwriter Joe Raposo, who was one of the key songwriters for Sesame Street (he wrote the theme, ‘Bein’ Green’ and loads of other classics). In fact, during the 70s Raposo coaxed Lehrer out of musical retirement to write some songs for The Electric Company.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Buffalo Tom were getting emotional and moody with ‘Taillights Fade’.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Bjork creates an undeniable masterpiece in ‘Hyper-ballad’. Wow, these are two very emotionally powerful songs, especially to be accompanying this fluffy number. Should maybe have checked that before writing this entry, really.
AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…