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Happy Hanukkah, y’awl

Here’s a first-day-of-Hanukkah treat: Tom Lehrer has released his entire catalogue into the public domain, no strings.

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.

It’s a very Tom Lehrer sort of thing to do.

The site opened November 1st and a notice says it won’t be up for long, so download ’em if you want ’em. (Note: if you go to download the albums as .rar files, The Remains of Tom Lehrer (disc 1) is missing. I’ve tried writing to them about it, but I can’t find contact info).

If you don’t know him (and we’re all a bit young for it) he was a mathematician who had success in the Fifties writing and performing biting and seriously funny satirical songs. There he is above singing National Brotherhood Week.

By the Seventies, he decided he didn’t want to do it any more and vanished, stage left. Went back to teaching math, leaving (barely) a trace. He’s 94.

A Christmas Carol

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say “when.”
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas Day you can’t get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
There’s time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.

Relations, sparing no expense’ll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
“Just the thing I need! how nice!”
It doesn’t matter how sincere it
Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
What’s important is the price.

Hark the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the Yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!

So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend Kris Kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don’t stand underneath when they fly by.


Comment from Deborah HH
Time: December 19, 2022, 10:16 pm

I do remember him, sorta. Maybe he was on the Smothers Brothers show. I thought I’d read his book, but when I looked for it, I couldn’t find it. A man like that—should have written a book, ya know?

Comment from Downwind of Seattle
Time: December 20, 2022, 12:28 am

Here’s the URL for disk 1. They typo’ed the URL. https://tomlehrersongs.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/trotl1.rar

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: December 20, 2022, 12:40 am

Listen to the songs, 60 years later, and jack all has changed.

I’ll be sad when old Tom is called up yonder.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: December 20, 2022, 1:11 am

I remember him well (I’m old: 73) and have always been highly appreciative of his usually grim sense of humor and keen insight into contemporary culture. I think maybe George Carlin might have been influenced a bit by Lehrer.

In the 50s, Lehrer was in the Army and even though he had an advanced mathematics degree he remained an enlisted man. But being a mathematics whiz, he worked at the NSA, which at the time was so secret its very existence was classified. So, when asked what he did in the Army, he would tell people that he worked on the atomic bomb. It was less secret.

Comment from blake
Time: December 20, 2022, 4:36 am

You can also click through to the Disc 1 MP3 and there’s a RAR link there that works.

Comment from steve
Time: December 20, 2022, 1:55 pm

Tom Leherer was also a cast member on the satirical TV show That Was the Week That Was.

Pretty hard hitting show for the time.

Comment from Carl
Time: December 20, 2022, 5:02 pm

I’m old enough to remember him in the mid 60s. My brother-in-law had the record. I think it was called “An Evening (wasted) with Tom Lehrer”. My favourite piece was “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”. He crops up now and again as a choice in “Desert Island Discs”.

Comment from normal
Time: December 20, 2022, 5:25 pm

wget –mirror “https://tomleheresongs.com” gives me a neat little 3.5G directory. I suppose one could simply restrict the pull to only mp3 or rar files, which might save a bit of space.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 20, 2022, 7:21 pm

Thank you Downwind! Got it! I’m a completionist…

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: December 20, 2022, 8:28 pm

Wow! There’s a whole bunch of songs never issued on records. Gotta grab that!

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: December 20, 2022, 9:45 pm

Heh, A bunch of songs on the Lehrer site are roll your own, Tom gives you the lyrics and tune but yo u’ll have to record your own actual music.

Half of what makes him awesome are the humorous introductions to the tunes for his audience.
Smart guy, said without any sarcasm.

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