Tom Lehrer Pollution Analysis Essay

Tom Lehrer Discography

A list of records and other media by or relating to Thomas Andrew Lehrer

May 1993, August 1994, April 1995, August 1995, December 1995, January 1996, July 1998, January 2000, June 2001, February/March 2005, October 2005, April 2010, etc.
by Jeff Morris; thanks to Brian Leibowitz, Warren Debenham, Brian Korn, Adam Rubin, Kevin, Aaron, Russ Josephson, and Jeff Ehrlich for some additional information, and special thanks to Tom Lehrer for numerous additions, updates, comments, miscellaneous information, and pictures of record covers.
All records are 12" LP's issued in the U.S. unless otherwise specified. If two catalog numbers are listed for a record, the first is mono and the second is stereo. These are all available at The Demented Music Database

(Most pictures may be clicked on for a larger version.)


Songs by Tom Lehrer

Trans Radio 10" LP TR 740, March 1953 [mono only]; reissued as Lehrer Records 10" LP TLP-1, 1953 [mono only]

Tom's first LP, recorded on his own on January 22, 1953, at Trans Radio studios in Boston. He paid $15 to get it cut and $700 to get it pressed up on 400 10" LP's. There were eventually a few hundred thousand copies made. The original pressings had his street address on the back cover. It was repressed many times and subsequent pressings show his post office box instead. Original and some subsequent pressings were on the Trans Radio label, but most were on the Lehrer Records label. The liner notes of earlier pressings mention that he has attended Harvard for many years, but later pressings say he attended there until June 1953.
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • Be Prepared
  • The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be
  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Irish Ballad
  • The Hunting Song
  • My Home Town
  • When You Are Old and Gray
  • I Hold Your Hand in Mine
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz

The Tom Lehrer Songbook

Introduction by Al Capp, Illustrated by Grisha Dotzenko - Crown Publishers, Inc., 1954

The original hardback songbook, containing all songs from the first LP (above) except "Lobachevsky", and also containing "A Christmas Carol", which did not appear on record until five years later.

Songs By Tom Lehrer

Lehrer Records double 7" 45rpm EP set TLEP-1, 1955

This set contains the same songs as the Songs By Tom Lehrer LP, with the first three songs from side 1 of the LP on side 1 of the first EP, the second three songs from side 1 of the LP on side 2 of the first EP, etc. It was issued because back in those days there was debate over which was the better format, the EP or the LP, so Tom wanted to cover both markets. Approximately 11,000 copies of the EP version were sold.

Songs By Tom Lehrer

Decca Records 10" LP (U.K.) LF/LFT 1311, 1958 [mono only]

The British release of Tom's first LP, with a different cover.
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • Be Prepared
  • The Wild West
  • I Wanna Go Back To Dixie
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Irish Ballad
  • The Hunting Song
  • My Home Town
  • When You Are Old And Grey
  • I Hold Your Hand In Mine
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz

Songs by Tom Lehrer

Lehrer Records TL 101, 1959 [mono only]

Same tracks as previous release of this title, but 12" in diameter, to coincide with the release of two new albums (see below) in 12" format. Although no pressings of this title are stereo (or fake stereo), some copies of the 12" jacket contain a small version of the Lehrer Records stereo symbol at the top (but not the word "stereo"). The copies with this symbol were pressed in 1960 or later as they also advertise the availability of Tom Lehrer Revisited. Over 100,000 copies of this version were sold.

More of Tom Lehrer

Lehrer Records TL-102/102S, October 1959

also: Decca Records 10" LP (U.K.) LF/LFT 1323, 1959 [mono only]

After making a live recording in March, Tom decided that some people might prefer a studio recording similar to his first album. So, he recorded this album on July 8, 1959, and decided to issue both the live and studio versions at the same time. The studio version didn't have the spoken intros or applause, so it was significantly shorter, and priced less. However, over the years, the live version (below) became the definitive version of these songs.
  • Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
  • Bright College Days
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Elements
  • Oedipus Rex
  • In Old Mexico
  • Clementine
  • It Makes a Fellow Proud To Be a Soldier
  • She's My Girl
  • The Masochism Tango
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go

An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

Lehrer Records TL-202/202S, October 1959

also: Decca Records (U.K.) LK 4332/SKL 4097, 1960

Same track listing as previous record, but a live recording including spoken introductions not found on the studio version. It was recorded in Sanders Theater at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, on March 20 & 21, 1959. The cover photograph was taken at The Hanna Theatre in Cleveland, OH, on April 4, 1959. (The reason for this was that Tom hadn't thought about the cover at the time of the recording, so once he realized he needed a picture, the next concert was the Cleveland one.)

Songs By Tom Lehrer (Australian EP)

Decca Records DFEA 7507, 1960 [mono only]

The Victoria and Queensland states in Australia objected to three of the songs on the Songs By LP and refused to sell it, so this EP was made of songs that weren't objectionable.
  • The Wild West
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Irish Ballad
  • My Home Town

Tom Lehrer Revisited

Lehrer Records TL-201, November 1960 [mono only]

A live recording of the songs on Songs By Tom Lehrer. Side 1 was recorded live on November 23 & 24, 1959, in Kresge Auditorium at MIT in Cambridge, MA. Side 2 was recorded live at two concerts during Tom's tour of Australia in spring, 1960 - March 21 in Melbourne and May 4 in Sydney. The cover photograph was taken at Royal Festival Hall in London, England, after his performance there on June 29, 1960. The people in the audience are Jack Phipps, who worked for Ian Hunter (Tom's booking agent in England, not the actor), and a friend of his.
  • Introduction
  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
  • The Irish Ballad
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
  • I Hold Your Hand in Mine
  • My Home Town
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Hunting Song
  • The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • When You Are Old and Gray
  • Be Prepared

Tom Lehrer Revisited

Decca Records (U.K.) LK 4375, 1960 [mono only]

The recordings Tom had made in Australia were of a lower technical quality than those made at MIT for this album, due in part to a possibly drunk engineer. Decca Records declined releasing the Australian recordings, so this album was assembled completely from the November, 1959, MIT concert. The songs and intros on this album that are also on side 1 of the American issue are the same recordings.
  • Introduction
  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
  • The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Irish Ballad
  • The Hunting Song
  • My Home Town
  • When You Are Old and Grey
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
  • I Hold Your Hand in Mine
  • Be Prepared

Tom Lehrer Discovers Australia (And Vice Versa)

Decca Records LKA 7505, 1960 [mono only?]

This album was released only in Australia, as far as I know. It is the equivalent of Tom Lehrer Revisited except that all of the performances were recorded in Australia. Half of these peformances were included on side 2 of the American issue of Revisited (on Lehrer Records).
  • Introduction
  • I Wanna Go Back To Dixie
  • The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • The Hunting Song
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Irish Ballad
  • When You Are Old And Grey
  • My Home Town
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
  • I Hold Your Hand In Mine
  • Be Prepared

"Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"/"The Masochism Tango"

45 single, 1960 [mono only; new recordings with orchestra conducted by Richard Hayman]

U.S.: Capricorn Records C-451

U.K.: Decca Records 45F-11243

"The Hunting Song"

"We Will All Go Together When We Go"

Orchestral versions of these songs, from the same sessions as the above single (January 21, 1960). Tom gave Dr. Demento copies of these during an interview in fall, 1991, and Dr. Demento has played them on his show several times. Both are in mono.

"The Hunting Song" was eventually released on Dr. Demento's 25th Anniversary Collection, and both tracks were included, along with the previous two orchestral tracks, on Songs & More Songs By Tom Lehrer.

That Was the Year That Was

Reprise Records R/RS 6179, 1965; also released on 8-track 8RM 6179

also: Pye/Reprise Records (U.K.) R 6179, 1965 [mono only?]

Recorded live at the hungry i nightclub in San Francisco, CA, over five nights in July, 1965. Nine of these songs were written for the NBC television series "That Was The Week That Was" a/k/a "TW3", and were used in the series at one time or another (as were some of his older songs). Songs which were NOT part of "TW3" are indicated below by an asterisk following the title.
  • National Brotherhood Week
  • MLF Lullaby
  • George Murphy
  • The Folk Song Army*
  • Smut*
  • Send the Marines
  • Pollution
  • So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)
  • Whatever Became of Hubert?
  • New Math
  • Alma*
  • Who's Next?
  • Wernher Von Braun*
  • The Vatican Rag*

That Was The Year That Was

Reprise Records PRO 218 promo 7" EP, 1965 [mono only]

  • New Math
  • The Folk Song Army
  • Pollution
  • National Brotherhood Week

Interview on WTBS, the MIT radio station (now known as WMBR)

October 20, 1965, promoting the That Was The Year That Was album.

The interview was aired but has not been released on record. Some of the songs played during the interview were:
  • "The Fifty Russian Composers" (live in studio; a song made famous by Danny Kaye in the film "Lady In The Dark". The song is simply a list of Russian composers, and inspired Tom's song "The Elements".)
  • "The Folk Song Army" (played from LP)
  • "I Hold Your Hand In Mine" (live in studio)
  • "The Subway Song" (live in studio - a song he wrote in 1944 when he first came to Boston)

Voices Of Vista

Vista No. 33 GXTV 220039, 220040, c1965

This record was made to promote VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), an organization of people who would dedicate one year of their life to working in areas of America that could use their help.

Side one of this record has an interview with Tom done by Willis Connover. It also contains some songs from his That Was The Year That Was LP: "Pollution", "New Math", and "MLF Lullaby".

Side two of the record has a similar show with The Brandywines, Clark Terry, and The Lovin' Spoonful as the guests.

That Was The Year That Was words and music by Tom Lehrer

piano transcriptions by Frank Metis - Maelstrom Inc.; Cimino Publications Inc.

A folio of songs from the That Was The Year That Was album. Note that this contains "Whatever Became Of Hubert?", which does not appear in the Too Many Songs By Tom Lehrer book (see below).
  • National Brotherhood Week
  • M L F Lullaby
  • The Folk Song Army
  • Smut
  • Pollution
  • So Long, Mom (A Song For World War III)
  • Whatever Became Of Hubert?
  • Who's Next?
  • Wernher von Braun
  • Send The Marines
  • The Vatican Rag

An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer

Reprise Records PRO 224 promo 7" EP, 1966 [mono only]

  • Poisoning Pigeons In The Park
  • In Old Mexico
  • Clementine
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go

An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

Reprise Records R/RS 6199, 1966; also possibly released on 8-track 8RM 6199

Same recording as previous release of this title. Apparently it was originally only issued in mono, but stereo copies were later pressed in fake stereo created by adding echo to the mono mix. The reason for all of that is that Tom did some minor editing to the master (mainly reducing the amount of applause) before its re-release. He must've edited the mono master, and Warner Bros. were too lazy to also edit the stereo master, so they just made the mono master into a stereo one. Fake stereo was sort of big at that time, and wasn't looked upon with as much disdain as it is today.

Songs By Tom Lehrer

Reprise Records PRO 241 promo 7" EP, 1966 [mono only]

  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • Be Prepared
  • Fight Fiercely Harvard

Songs by Tom Lehrer

Reprise Records R/RS 6216, 1966; also released on 8-track 8RM 6216 and reel-to-reel RS 6216

Due to the success of the That Was The Year That Was album (a top 20 album on Billboard), Warner/Reprise decided to reissue Tom's older works. First they reissued the Evening Wasted album (see above). They wanted to release the original classic Songs By Tom Lehrer album, but were not satisfied with the technical quality of it, so Tom came into the studio to re-record it in stereo. In the process, he also noticeably changed some of the lyrics. He later regretted changing them, and changed them back for subsequent projects. (See the lyric variations page for details on this.)
  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • When You Are Old and Gray
  • The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be
  • Fight Fiercely Harvard
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Irish Ballad
  • The Hunting Song
  • My Home Town
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
  • I Hold Your Hand in Mine
  • Be Prepared
The 8-track release was called Tom Lehrer Songs and featured a different running order, as well as shortened or incorrect titles for several songs (as was typical of 8-track releases):
  • Back To Dixie
  • When You Are Old And Grey
  • Wild West
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • Lobachevsky
  • I Hold Your Hand In Mine
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • My Home Town
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Song
  • Irish Ballad
  • The Hunting Song
  • Be Prepared

The Frost Report

TV show in England featuring David Frost, 1966

Tom sang several songs on this show. He flew over one weeked and recorded all of his performances at once, but they were dropped in at various points over the dozen or so episodes of the show. (He was teaching at three universities at the time, so couldn't devote much more time than that to this project.) He did songs from his records, changing some of the words (see the lyric variations page for a different version of "It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier"), and also some other songs which aren't available anywhere. One of these, which he wrote on his way over, was a variation on "New Math" that was about England's recent conversion to decimal coinage. Another was an update to a Johnny Mercer/Robert Emmett Dolan song called "Politics" from the Broadway show "Texas Li'l Darlin'". The latter was written with Herbert Kretzmer, later the translator for "Les Miserables".

Tom Lehrer's Second Song Book

1966?

Similar to the That Was The Year That Was folio (see above), but with a few songs from An Evening Wasted added in. Once again, this contains "Whatever Became Of Hubert?" which is not in the currently-available songbook Too Many Songs (see below).
  • Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
  • National Brotherhood Week
  • M L F Lullaby
  • The Folk Song Army
  • Smut
  • Pollution
  • So Long, Mom
  • Whatever Became of Hubert
  • Who's Next
  • Wernher von Braun
  • Send the Marines
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go
  • The Masochism Tango
  • The Elements
  • The Vatican Rag

boxed set of 3 LP's issued in Denmark(?)

SEPL 1-3 - year unknown

contains the following LP's:
  • Tom Lehrer Revisited - Decca Records LK 4375
  • An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer - Decca Records SKL 4097
  • That Was The Year That Was - Pye 6179

Tom Lehrer Sings Pollution

A film of "Pollution", featuring a cartoon of a bird playing a piano at a dump, combined with real scenes of industrial excess from across America, was made in 1966 & 1967 by Astrafilms for the U.S. Communicable Disease Center (not the Environmental Protection Agency as previously reported). The first cut in 1966 featured the live recording of "Pollution" from the LP, but this version of the film was not used. It was then redone in 1967, using more drastic scenes to really drive home the message. Tom and the producers agreed that it would be better to use a studio recording of the song without the audience, so he re-recorded it for the second version. It was then distributed by the National Medical Audio-Visual Center.

Pollution

another animated film of "Pollution" was produced around 1969 by James Conrad and some other students at the University of Southern California for the School Of Performing Arts, Division Of Cinema, Animation Workshop Project. This film was later shown on Carol Burnett's show.

"Pollution"/"Who's Next?"

Reprise Records 45 single 0862, circa October, 1969 [mono only]

The Electric Company

Warner Brothers BS 2636, 1972

Tom wrote ten songs used for the PBS children's program "The Electric Company" in the early 70's. Four of them ("Silent E", "L-Y", "The Hound Song", and "Snore, Sniff, and Sneeze") were recorded with Tom singing, and the rest were sung by others. The others that Tom wrote were "Why Not Fight?" (a/k/a "The Fight Song"), "N'T", "The Menu Song", "Without An S", "Finch and Dinch", and "The Mumble Song". He also wrote an eleventh, "Why Must You Whine?", which was not used on the show. This record contains his recording of "Silent E".

This was issued in a deluxe package including a magazine, elaborate artwork, and a dial that turns.

Electric Company 7" EP

Warner Brothers PRO 549, 1972

Contains "Silent E" by Tom, and also "Fight Song" by Entire Cast, which was written by Tom. (Contains 12 tracks total.)

The Electric Company

Sesame Street CTW 22052, 1970's

Budget re-release of Warner Brothers BS 2636 without special packaging.

Warner Bros. Records Twentieth Anniversary Album in Sound and Picture

Warner Bros. promo, PRO-A-775

Six-LP box set containing "Pollution". Three thousand copies made.

Tomfoolery Original London Cast Revue

(Robin Ray, Jonathan Adams, Martin Connor, Tricia George) - MMT LP001, 1980 [stereo only]

The original cast recording of the Tomfoolery Revue, which started in London in 1980, the brainchild of British producer Cameron Mackintosh. The revue includes one song of Tom's that he never released, "I Got It From Agnes". He used to perform it in nightclubs in the 50's, at which time it was called "I Got It From Sally". He didn't perform it in concert or release it because he felt it was too naughty at the time and didn't want to be associated with that type of song. He revised it for this revue, making it even naughtier, but now says that its innocence borders on naivete.
  • Be Prepared - Company
  • Poisoning Pigeons in the Park - Martin and Tricia
  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie - Jonathan with Martin and Tricia
  • The Elements - Robin
  • Silent 'E' - Tricia with Company
  • When You Are Old and Grey - Jonathan and Robin
  • She's My Girl - Martin
  • Wernher Von Braun - Jonathan
  • Who's Next - Company
  • I Got It from Agnes - Robin
  • National Brotherhood Week - Company
  • So Long Mom - Martin with Robin
  • Irish Ballad - Tricia and Company. Solo violin: Robin
  • I Hold Your Hand in Mine - Martin with Jonathan and Robin
  • The Masochism Tango - Jonathan
  • The Old Dope Pedlar - Robin
  • The Vatican Rag - Company
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go - Company

Alberta Theatre Projects and Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver present Tomfoolery

(Deirdre Van Winkle, Grant Cowan, Vince Metcalfe, Jack Northmore) - Alberta Theatre Projects ATP 261258, 1981 [stereo]

The original Canadian cast recording.
  • Be Prepared - Company
  • Poisoning Pigeons In The Park - Grant and Deirdre
  • I Wanna Go Back To Dixie - Jack with Grant and Vince
  • In Old Mexico - Deirdre
  • Who's Next - Company
  • She's My Girl - Vince
  • I Got It From Agnes - Grant
  • National Brotherhood Week - Company
  • So Long Mom - Vince with Grant
  • Pollution - Vince, Jack and Deirdre
  • Silent "E" - Deirdre and Company
  • The Masochism Tango - Jack
  • The Old Dope Pedlar - Grant
  • The Vatican Rag - Company
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go - Company

That Was "That Was the Week That Was"

Radiola Records, LMR-1123, 1981 [mono only]

This is a compilation of highlights of the "TW3" show for which Tom wrote several songs, but on which he did NOT perform. The show ran on NBC from January 10, 1964 to May 4, 1965. Five of his songs are included here. The record lists "with (among others) David Frost, Nancy Ames, Henry Morgan, Woody Allen, Steve Allen, Alan [sic] Sherman, Buck Henry, Dick Noel, Elliot Reid, the songs of Tom Lehrer, Pat Englund, Phyllis Newman, Bob Dishy, Mort Sahl, Jerry Damon announcing."

The record does not give a track listing, but here is approximately what is on it.

  • Intro - Pat Englund? & Andrew Duncan
  • theme song - Nancy Ames/Jerry Damon announcing
  • News about Liz Taylor and Republicans - David Frost
  • Grand Old Flag - Nancy Ames
  • The Sexual Revolution - Elliot Reid, Buck Henry, Alan Alda
  • News about Elections - David Frost
  • Showdown at the Cow Palace - ?
  • Civil Defense - ?, ? & Woody Allen
  • News about Integration - ?
  • Ku Klux Klan Play - ?
  • Presidential Non-Preference Poll - Elliot Reid? & Pat Englund?
  • Red, Green, Blue, White - entire cast
  • Nikita's Spy Satellite - Tom Bosley
  • Byrd Watching - Alan Alda, others
  • Letter about Schools - Phyllis Newman
  • Viet-Nam Summary - David Frost & Buck Henry
  • Ethics - ?
  • Closing - Nancy Ames/Jerry Damon announcing
  • That Wonderful War - Buck Henry (includes "We're At War Again" - Nancy Ames, "So Long, Mom" - Steve Allen, and "The Fallout's Fallin'" - Nancy Ames)
  • News about Cigarette Warnings - Buck Henry
  • The Drop-Outs March - Allan Sherman
  • Weekly Round-Up of Delightful News from Everywhere - Henry Morgan, others
  • TV Land - Nancy Ames & ?
  • Political Casting Agency - Phyllis Newman & Steve Allen
  • American Embassies - David Frost/Nancy Ames (song)
  • Bernie the Bookie - Buck Henry & Bob Dishy
  • Who's Next? - Nancy Ames
  • Domestic Travel Ad - David Frost, Buck Henry & Pat Englund?
  • Pollution - Nancy Ames
  • The Old Dope Peddler - Nancy Ames, introduced by Mort Sahl
  • News about Last Episode - David Frost, Buck Henry, & Phyllis Newman
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go - Nancy Ames
  • Song about End of Show - Phyllis Newman
  • John Cancellor - ?
  • Closing - David Frost/Nancy Ames/Jerry Damon announcing

Too Many Songs By Tom Lehrer with not enough drawings by Ronald Searle

Pantheon Books hardcover and softcover, 1981

Songbook containing piano arrangements for all but six of the songs from Tom's three main LP's, plus a few extras. It was issued to accompany the Tomfoolery stage revue, and contains all of the songs originally in that. Tom says the reason it didn't include every single song was simply space concerns. "We put in everything from Tomfoolery, and anything after that was a bonus."

Part One: From Songs by Tom Lehrer

  • The Irish Ballad
  • Be Prepared
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be
  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Hunting Song
  • I Hold Your Hand in Mine
  • My Home Town
  • When You Are Old and Gray
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
Part Two: From An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer
  • Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
  • The Masochism Tango
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Elements
  • Bright College Days
  • She's My Girl
  • In Old Mexico
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go
Part Three: From That Was the Year That Was, etc.
  • National Brotherhood Week
  • MLF Lullaby
  • The Folk Song Army
  • Smut
  • Send the Marines
  • New Math
  • Pollution
  • So Long, Mom
  • Who's Next?
  • Wernher von Braun
  • I Got It from Agnes
  • Silent E
  • L-Y
  • The Vatican Rag

Dr. Demento's Demented Christmas Picks

Westwood One promo disc, 1982

contains "A Christmas Carol" [from Lehrer TL-202S, w/o intro]

Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time, Volume II: The 1950's

Rhino LP/cassette 821, 1985

contains "The Masochism Tango" [from Capricorn C-451]

Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time, Volume III: The 1960's

Rhino LP/cassette 822, 1985

contains "So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)" [from Reprise RS-6179, w/o intro]

Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time, Volume VI: Christmas

Rhino LP/cassette 825, 1985

contains "A Christmas Carol" [from TL-202S, w/o intro]

Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty CD of All Time

Rhino Records CD, 75768, 1988

contains "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" [from Capricorn C-451]

Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time

Rhino Records CD, 75755, 1989

contains "A Christmas Carol" [from Lehrer TL-202, w/o intro]

That Was the Year that Was

Reprise CD 6179, April 12, 1990

CD release of Reprise LP RS-6179

An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

Reprise CD 6199, April 12, 1990

CD release of Reprise LP RS-6199
The original issue of this CD used the same fake stereo mix as the 1966 issue of the LP. Tom was wholly unaware that a fake stereo mix ever existed until Dr. Demento pointed it out to him around 1991. After several complaints to Warner Bros. from Tom, they remastered the CD into true mono. This is better than the fake stereo mix, but it's too bad they didn't use the true stereo mix.

The two versions of the CD look the same from the outside, but the remastered mono one says "RE-1" on the inner ring of the CD itself.

Tom Lehrer Revisited

Reprise CD 26203, May 2, 1990

CD release of Decca LP LK 4375; includes bonus tracks "Silent E" and "L-Y" (recorded May 28, 1971, and December 14, 1972) from "The Electric Company" TV show, with orchestra conducted by Joe Raposo. Both of these are mono (as is the entire CD), even though "Silent E" had previously been released in stereo on the Electric Company album. "L-Y" was unreleased before this CD.

Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection

Rhino Records, 70743, May 21, 1991

Disc Two of this 2-CD set contains "Masochism Tango" and "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" [both from Capricorn C-451]

Interview on The Dr. Demento Show

Westwood One Radio Networks, recorded fall, 1991.

It was aired over three weeks. The first two weeks, it took up 2 segments (approx. 15 minutes each), and the final week it took up one segment. Here are the songs played during the interview:

The Dr. Demento Show #91-46, for broadcast the week of Nov. 11-17, 1991

Tom Lehrer interview (Part 1A) including:
  • Poisoning Pigeons In The Park - Tom Lehrer
  • I Hold Your Hand In Mine - Tom Lehrer
  • Mad Dogs & Englishmen - Noel Coward
Tom Lehrer interview (Part 1B) including:
  • It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier - Tom Lehrer
  • The Merry Minuet - Katharine Hepburn

The Dr. Demento Show #91-47, for broadcast the week of Nov. 18-24, 1991

Tom Lehrer interview (Part 2A) including:
  • Be Prepared - Tom Lehrer
  • Teeny Tiny - Kaye Ballard
  • The Hunting Song (w/ orchestra) - Tom Lehrer
Tom Lehrer interview (Part 2B) including:
  • Pollution - Tom Lehrer
  • Gunslinger - The Limeliters

The Dr. Demento Show #91-48, for broadcast the week of Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 1991

Tom Lehrer interview (Part 3) including:
  • The Masochism Tango - Tom Lehrer
  • Silent "E" - Tom Lehrer
  • I'm Walking Backwards For Christmas - The Goons
  • The Elements - Tom Lehrer

That Was "That Was the Week That Was"

Radiola Records, CDMR-1123, 1993

CD release of LMR-1123

Christmas Comedy Classics - Vol. 2

Priority 53682, 1993

CD containing "A Christmas Carol".

"That's Mathematics"

recorded November 2, 1993, to be played over the credits of a videotape by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.

The videotape was about the Fermat Fest, which was held in San Francisco on July 28, 1993, and is available from MSRI.

This song was first aired on The Dr. Demento Show on the June 25, 1995 syndicated show (#95-26, syndicated by On The Radio Productions).

It appeared at the end of 1995 on Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes Vol. 4(see below). The version used by Dr. Demento is a different take from that used over the credits of the videotape.

Tom Lehrer In Concert

Eclipse 844 241-2 (Decca U.K. subsidiary), October 10, 1994

This European CD features the complete versions of Decca LP's SKL 4097 and LK 4375, minus the introduction track from the latter. This means that it has the unedited and true stereo version of An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer, which was previously unavailable on CD, and which has not been available at all in the U.S. since around 1965. The version of Tom Lehrer Revisited included here is the same as that on Reprise CD 26203.

As far as I know, this is the only Tom Lehrer release to feature an actual photograph of him on the cover which shows his face. This fact would lead one to assume that Tom was not involved with its release. In fact, this is true: Tom didn't know about the CD until he started getting royalty checks for it.

The American Comedy Box

Rhino Records promo, PRCD 7131, 1995

Promo for the set below. Contains "Pollution" from Reprise RS 6179.

The American Comedy Box 1915-1994: But Seriously...

Rhino Records, 71617, 1995

The first disc of this 4-CD set contains "Pollution" from Reprise RS 6179 under the "Musical Comedy" section.

Dr. Demento's 25th Anniversary Collection

Rhino Records, 72124, August 22, 1995

Disc Two of this 2-CD set contains the previously unreleased orchestral version of "The Hunting Song".

Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes No. 4

The Demento Society, 1995

Contains "That's Mathematics". Different take from that used on the MSRI videotape (see above). The version on this disc is the same as the version used on the show prior to this, except that this version is stereo.

Songs & More Songs By Tom Lehrer

Rhino Records, 72776, May 6, 1997

This release contains his two original studio albums, Songs By Tom Lehrer and More Of Tom Lehrer. These are the original Lehrer Records versions. Unfortunately, More Of is the mono version instead of the stereo, but there is no explanation for why this is. Also included are the following bonus tracks: The final two tracks were released here for the first time. The sound quality on "The Hunting Song" is significantly better on this disc than on Dr. Demento's 25th Anniversary Collection. "I Got it From Agnes" is a new recording done October 8, 1996.

The Remains Of Tom Lehrer

Rhino Records, 79831, May 23, 2000

Three-CD box set containing the majority of Tom's recorded output, including studio and live recordings. The main omissions that keep this from being complete are the absense of the Tom Lehrer Discovers Australia (And Vice Versa) album and the Reprise re-recording of Songs By Tom Lehrer. (These were no doubt omitted at Tom's request, since he has stated that he isn't happy with either of these.) Also missing is "Trees", a song recorded in 1999 for this box set, and issued on advance promo cassettes, but later pulled from the released set.

Only the last five tracks on the third disc are previously unreleased. Everything else is not only previously released, but already released on CD (i.e. the British version of Revisited is used). However, this is the U.S. CD debut of the true stereo version of An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer (though More Of is still in mono), as well as the CD debut of the stereo version of "Silent E". "That's Mathematics" had previously appeared on Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes No. 4, but this version has the verse about Andrew Wiles edited out, and a new note recorded to bridge the gap where the edit is.

Disc 1: Studio Recordings With Piano

  • Songs By Tom Lehrer (1953)
  • More of Tom Lehrer (1959)
  • Recent Recordings
    • I Got It From Agnes (1997)
    • That's Mathematics (1993)

Disc 2: Live Performances

  • Tom Lehrer Revisited (1960)
  • An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer (1959)

Disc 3: More Live Performances + Studio Recordings With Orchestra

  • That Was The Year That Was (1965)
  • The Richard Hayman Sessions (1960)
    • Poisoning Pigeons In The Park
    • The Masochism Tango
    • The Hunting Song
    • We Will All Go Together When We Go
  • The Joe Raposo Sessions (for The Electric Company) (1971-72)
    • L-Y
    • Silent E
    • O-U (The Hound Song)
    • S-N (Snore, Sniff, And Sneeze)
  • The Rob Fisher Sessions (New Recordings, 1999)
    • N Apostrophe T
    • Selling Out
    • (I'm Spending) Hanukkah In Santa Monica

Tom Lehrer's The Elements

Retiarius Laboratories DVD, August 15, 2004

an animated version of "The Elements" by James A. Woods, which gradually fills in the Periodic Table as each one is mentioned; was in development since circa 1996

The Tom Lehrer Collection

Shout Factory, 826663-11823, April 13, 2010

CD compilation of some of his best-known work, all previously on The Remains Of Tom Lehrer. The first 15 tracks are live versions, the next 9 are 1971-1999 recordings, and the last 2 are the 1960 orchestral recordings.

The DVD contains a recently discovered TV program from Oslo, Norway, and additional bonus material. Only the Cameron Mackintosh and some of The Electric Company material had ever been released before, with the former being the only released video of Tom Lehrer in performance prior to this set.

CD

  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • Lobachevsky
  • The Irish Ballad
  • When You Are Old And Gray
  • Be Prepared
  • The Elements
  • We Will All Go Together When We Go
  • National Brotherhood Week
  • Pollution
  • So Long, Mom (A Song For World War III)
  • New Math
  • Who's Next?
  • Smut
  • Wernher von Braun
  • The Vatican Rag
  • I Got It From Agnes
  • That's Mathematics
  • L-Y
  • Silent E
  • O-U (The Hound Song)
  • S-N (Snore, Snuff, And Sneeze)
  • N Apostrophe T
  • Selling Out
  • (I'm Spending) Hanukkah In Santa Monica
  • Poisoning Pigeons In The Park
  • The Masochism Tango

DVD


RELATED RECORDINGS

Jack Eljan Sings Tom Lehrer's Song Satires

10" LP, 1954? [mono only]

A cover of the entire Songs By Tom Lehrer LP. This came out in the mid-50's when Tom's LP was a bit hard-to-find. The singer's real name was Jack Nagle. He didn't use his real name because he was a bit embarrassed doing the record, feeling it was beneath him.

The track listing is the same as for the double EP set below. The LP has the tracks from sides 1 & 2 of the double EP on side 1, and the tracks from sides 3 & 4 of the double EP on side 2.

Jack Eljan Sings Tom Lehrer's Song Satires

Rivoli EP-R 4 double red vinyl 7" EP set, 1955? [mono only]

Sides 1 & 3 are on one record, and sides 2 & 4 are on another.
  • Be Prepared
  • I Hold Your Hand In Mine
  • The Hunting Song
  • The Old Dope Peddler
  • I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
  • When You Are Old & Gray
  • The Wild West
  • Fight Fiercely, Harvard
  • The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
  • The Irish Ballad

Gazette - Pete Seeger

Folkways FN 2501, 1958 [mono only?]

includes a cover of "The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be"

Tom Lehrer's Song Satires - Jack Eljan

Audio Masterpiece LPA 230, 1960? [mono only]

Reissue of the 10" LP on 12", after 10" LP's had gone out of style.

Upside Don - Don Paulin

Horizon/Vee Jay WP 1625, circa mid 60s?

includes a cover of "In Old Mexico" (listed as "Fiesta Time")

Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg Yust Go Country and Western

Golden Crest CR 31022, circa early 70's

includes a cover of "The Hunting Song"

foreign translations

A woman from Argentina named Nacha Guevara has translated and recorded almost all of Tom's songs in Spanish over five or so of her albums.

"The Synagogue Rag" - Damaskas

An unreleased parody of "The Vatican Rag". It was played on The Dr. Demento Show #78-18, airing week of June 19-25, 1978.

Georgie on My Mind

The Capitol Steps CD/cassette 1008, 1990

contains "The Vatican Flag", a parody of "The Vatican Rag"

"Hello Mom" - Tom Geer

An unreleased parody of "So Long, Mom" referring to the Gulf War. It was played on The Dr. Demento Show #91-04, airing week of January 21-27, 1991.

Hot Licks & Rhetoric

ECCA Records CD 00102, 2001

contains "The New Elements", which is an updated version of "The Elements" with a different tune and new lyrics which mention Tom
Back to the list of demented discographies

IT FEELS quaint now: a man with tidy hair and an elegant suit sits at a piano, his thick glasses sticking to his nose. He makes a few quips, and the audience titters politely. Then the man begins to sing. Flowers in his voice, he tells the story of a local drug dealer.

“He gives the kids free samples
Because he knows full well
That today’s young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow’s clientele.”

The audience guffaws. “The Old Dope Peddler” was one of Tom Lehrer’s most controversial songs, and Mr Lehrer was once one of the most cutting satirists in America. His sharp wit still resonates today. 

Mr Lehrer did not mean to be a musician. He was a mathematician by training, but discovered a talent for parody while an undergraduate at Harvard. His first songs were just for friends, but Mr Lehrer was soon performing for larger crowds. By 1964, his songs appeared on American television, while Mr Lehrer himself played concerts as far afield as Denmark. His famous admirers included Issac Asimov, a science-fiction writer, and a taste for the nerdy was always a hallmark: one popular song was a jauntily rhyming recitation of all of the chemical elements. 

He could have done well with highbrow novelty songs alone. But rather than shuffling around the controversies of the day, in the style of Bob Hope, Mr Lehrer leapt right in. The results shocked and amused Americans, while the politics of the time gave him plenty of material. Mocking Lyndon Johnson’s reluctance to enforce anti-racist legislation, he sings that Marines get sent “to the shores of Tripoli” but not to “Mississippoli”. Elsewhere, Mr Lehrer tweaked fussy censors. “Smut!” he smiled, leering at the crowd. “Give me smut and nothing but!”

Mr Lehrer teased the self-righteous pieties of liberals, too. In “The Folk Song Army” he told his audience that he hated “poverty, war and injustice, unlike the rest of you squares!” Introducing another number, the comedian says he’d “like to turn to the folk song, which has become in recent years the particularly fashionable form of idiocy among the self-styled intellectual”. Elsewhere, Mr Lehrer turned his wit against the racist insincerity of some do-gooders: “It’s fun to eulogise the people you despise, as long as you don’t let them in your school.”

Aiming his guns haphazardly ultimately turned Mr Lehrer away from satire. As the Vietnam war ripped America apart, his sweeping rudeness felt glib. “In the late 60s and early 70s audiences wanted not to be amused but to be exhorted, not to laugh but to march,” he remembered later. Divisive social issues, like abortion, hardly helped. “It’s impossible to write a funny song when you can see both sides.” Mr Lehrer’s last gig was in 1972. He then slipped back into work as a maths professor, teaching his last class in 2001. 

Despite his own misgivings—he is now 89—Mr Lehrer still has plenty of fans, with his songs covered in genres from (ironically) ukulele folk to death metal. The singer takes all this lightly. When 2 Chainz, a rapper, asked to sample “The Old Dope Peddler” in one of his tracks, Mr Lehrer was keen to help. “I grant you motherfuckers permission to do this,” he supposedly answered. “Please give my regards to Mr Chainz, or may I call him 2?” 

That even 2 Chainz appreciates Mr Lehrer is a mark of how relevant many of his tracks still are. When he warns about pollution—“the halibuts and the sturgeons are being wiped out by detergents”—Mr Lehrer could have been singing yesterday. With overt racism surging again, his assault on the hypocrisies of the Old South also seems fitting: “I want to talk to southern gentlemen, and put that white sheet on again.” Songs about less nasty topics feel just as modern. Though it was composed for the Second Vatican Council, “Vatican Rag” fits gracefully into a debate about liberalism in the current papacy. Turning the liturgy into a ragtime piece, Mr Lehrer tells Catholics they can “do whatever steps you want if you have cleared them with the Pontiff”. 

Increased global tension has highlighted another of Mr Lehrer’s favourite themes: nuclear weapons. These songs show him at his most deliciously grim. “So long mom, I’m off to drop the bomb!” begins one. “I’ll look for you when the war is over, an hour and a half from now!”  When nuclear catastrophe comes, he cheers elsewhere, “we will all go together when we go, what a comforting fact that is to know!” 

Today, America is as divided as it has been since Mr Lehrer’s heyday. Then as now, comics are expected to take a stance on divisive issues. Those who don’t can suffer. Jimmy Fallon, a talk-show host who was famously soft on Donald Trump (and whose show continues to pursue broad appeal rather than political criticism), has seen his ratings slide. Perhaps Mr Fallon, who enjoys singing on his show, should take Mr Lehrer’s approach instead. As his wonderful songs attest, universal bitterness set to a jaunty tune is a good way to get audiences singing along.

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