Tom Lehrer Biography

Review The Artist (6)

Tom Lehrer-photo
I'd like to introduce now the featured artist of this page. I'm sure that you'll all agree without any hesitation that Tom Lehrer is the most brilliant creative genius that America has produced in almost 200 years, so perhaps a few words of biographical background might not be amiss. Endowed by nature with perhaps the most glorious baritone voice to be heard on an American stage since the memorable concert debut in 1835 of Millard Fillmore; endowed also with twelve incredibly agile fingers; Mr. Lehrer has had a long and varied career in the field of entertainment starting with nine years at Harvard University... where it was that he first decided to devote his life to what has since become a rather successful scientific project -- namely, the attempt to prolong adolescence beyond all previous limits.

Even before he came to Harvard, however, he was well known in academic circles for his masterly translation into Latin of The Wizard of Oz, which remains even today the standard Latin version of that work. A few years ago he was inducted... forcibly... into the United States Army and spent most of his indenture in Washington as sort of Army liaison to the Office of Naval Contemplation. About his service record he is justifiably modest, but it is known that in a short time he rose to the rank of brigadier general. However, before he could acquire a tenure, he was discharged, and owing to nepotism and intrigue, he emerged with only the rank of specialist 3rd class, which was roughly equivalent to the rank of corporal without portfolio.

But to return to his career in show business: for several years he toured vaudeville theaters with an act consisting of impressions of people in the last throes of various diseases. I'm sure that many of you here tonight still recall with pleasure his memorable diphtheria imitation. He is generally acknowledged to be the dean of living American composers, and is currently working on a musical comedy based on the life of Adolf Hitler.

Without further ado: Tom Lehrer!

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You are my muse! | Reviewer: Eric McDowell | 10/12/13

Your Vatican Rag inspired my Derivative Rag. Indeed, I used your music for my Rekenrek Rag (to inspire K-6 teachers of Mathematics). I have several others, most recently "The Calculus Priority Dispute". All of these can be found on YouTube.

Banned By Mother | Reviewer: Bill | 9/15/13

A friend of mine had a Tom Lehrer LP(actually, I think it belonged to his older brother), and one afternoon when Jr. High classes were over, he invited me to come over--ostensibly to meet his parents, debate the strengths of the Milwaukee Braves, and sneak upstairs to surreptitiously listen to his brother's Tom Lehrer music. We got through "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park", "The Elements", and one other song about doomsday, "We Will All Go Together When We Go". The howling and manical laughter issuing from us prompted his mother to check out what was causing the ruckus. By the time she peered around his bedroom door, we were listening to some bawdier Lehrer lyrics, and we were admonished, (maybe reprimanded is a better word)by my friend's mother for listening to them. We were fourteen. My friend and me have not been the same since. Tom Lehrer changed me in a cruelly subliminal way. Insanity does have its rewards!

I Can't Stop Loving You | Reviewer: Bermard Berg | 5/17/13

Ever since you first sang "Rickety Tickety Tin" back in the fifties, I have been a fan. I purchased your song book in the 1970s or maybe the 1980s, and loaned it to a friend who never returned it. The 1960s album with Wild West, Send The Marines, National Brotherhood Week, etc. are the best I've ever heard. Not to forget "I Hold Your Hand In Mine."

I Saved Myself for You, Tom (Tom Lehrer's Impact on the Younger Generation) | Reviewer: Sandra Hutton | 8/5/12

Sometimes a reviewer has to speak from her heart about such a performer. In 1959, a young girl's first evening with a Tom Lehrer album changed her life forever. I was that girl, aged 16, in love for the first time. I made my vow: I would save myself forever for Tom Lehrer, though he would never know. And I've kept that vow all these years. Of course, I've been married twice and given birth twice. And yes, I wasn't exactly what you'd call a "wallflower" during the 70's. But I've always been true to Tom in my soul. Like Tom, I got advanced degrees. Like Tom, I used to get paid to write and perform satirical songs, using the delicate tools of humor to convey wisdom, and always bringing enlightenment to no one, really. And now I'm almost 70, and you, Tom, are God knows how old, so it's clear we can never be. But I'll never regret I saved myself for you. --Sandra Hutton, Ph.D.

Tom Lehrer, a legend in his own mind, justifiably. | Reviewer: jack barry | 5/23/11

Mr. Lehrer's brilliance as a lyricist and composer is only exceeded by his humility and good looks...

That he has not penned any new text or accompanying notes in 40 years....has given "the luster of scarcity" to his portfolio of work, thin as it is...

America needs a cultural revival, badly, and if Mr. Lehrer is not willing to come forward in our national hour of need, then the USA is doomed to be eclipsed by tone deaf and dim countries who have the hutzpah to give it a shot..., nay, to give everyone within shooting distance ... a shot.

So this is more than a review. It is a plea to Mr. Lehrer, to pick up the pen and baton,,,,,and to memorialize the years between TWTHTW and ADIOSOSAMA, which we have just entered..

Voice in the Wilderness | Reviewer: douglas stuart | 1/9/11

Tom Lehrer was to common sense what Buddha was to discipline. I first heard Mr. Lehrer in 1965, and he has reverberated through the years, with every blunder the power structure produces, As you might imagine, I have thought of him a great deal. The qualities of intellect and compassion, plus a sense of humour is exemplified in Tom Lehrer. In the homogenous 50's and early 60's, his was a lonely voice. It gives me great pleasure to be able to air this view. Thank You Douglas J. Stuart

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