Saturday, January 03, 2009

Great Drinking Songs (14)

I posted a bit of Tom Lehrer over on Froogville for Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever - but I'm feeling in need of some more already.

I suppose dear Tom should really be one of my 'Unsuitable Role Models' too. I first encountered his wonderfully warped comic songs (no-one was ever better at torturing a rhyme) in the '70s BBC Radio show Frank Muir Goes Into...., in which that venerable comedy writer and raconteur would introduce a selection of classic comedy clips from the archives, themed around a different subject each week. Tom Lehrer was pretty much a weekly fixture (as were the marvellous early stand-up routines of Woody Allen - something I only managed to acquire my own recording of a couple of years ago), and I was immediately inspired by his playfully louche persona, and the wickedly non-conformist, often downright surreal viewpoints he espoused on love, death, religion, drink, drugs, and sex. For years I had supposed that mine was an isolated enthusiasm, freakishly rare; but at university I discovered that an affinity for Lehrer was, though by no means universal, not so very uncommon either; and I soon began to recognise this as a key indicator of suitability for friendship. Ah yes, many's the time that I have seen closing time at the Oxford Union bar celebrated (or rather, protested against) with renditions of We Will All Go Together When We Go or The Old Dope Peddler.

Given the direction which this reminiscence has taken, I suppose the most appropriate example of Mr Lehrer's oeuvre for me to now share with you would be his Bright College Days. There's no video with this, unfortunately (there seems to be very little performance footage of him at all), but it is the live version from the brilliant An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer album, which includes the most perfectly timed pause after the infamous 'razor blade' analogy - magnificent!

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