Monday, April 09, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tom

Tom Lehrer
Today is the 83d birthday of the inimitable Tom Lehrer. His performing career was brief but wonderful.

Here's one of his many very funny songs - one of my favorites - along with the introduction he usually gave it when he performed.

It seems that most of the songs that you hear these days on the radio played by the disc-jockeys, apart from rock-n-roll and other children's records, tend to be motion-picture title-songs. Apparently, producers feel that we will not attend their movies unless we have the titles well drilled into our heads in advance. Of course, we don't go anyway, but at least this way they make back on the song some of what they've lost on the picture. With the rise of the motion-picture title-song, we've had such hits in the last few years as the "Ten Commandments mambo", "Brothers Karamazov cha-cha", "Incredible Shrinking Man, I love you". I'm sure you're all familiar with these, but a few years ago a motion picture version appeared of Sophocles' immortal tragedy Oedipus Rex. This picture played only in the so-called art theaters, and it was not a financial success. And I maintain that the reason it was not a financial success ... (you're away ahead of me.) ...was that it did not have a title tune which the people could hum and which would make them actually eager to attend this particular play. So, I have attempted to remedy this. And here then is the prospective title song from Oedipus Rex.

From the Bible to the popular song,
There's one theme that we find right along.
Of all ideals they hail as good,
The most sublime is motherhood.

There was a man, oh, who, it seems,
Once carried this ideal to extremes.
He loved his mother and she loved him,
And yet his story is rather grim.

There once lived a man named Oedipus Rex.
You may have heard about his odd complex.
His name appears in Freud's index
'cause he loved his mother.

His rivals used to say quite a bit
That as a monarch he was most unfit.
But still in all they had to admit
That he loved his mother.

Yes, he loved his mother like no other.
His daughter was his sister and his son was his brother.
One thing on which you can depend is,
He sure knew who a boy's best friend is!

When he found what he had done,
He tore his eyes out one by one:
A tragic end to a loyal son
Who loved his mother.

So be sweet and kind to mother,
Now and then have a chat.
Buy her candy or some flowers or a brand new hat.
But maybe you had better let it go at that!
Or you may find yourself with a quite complex complex,
And you may end up like Oedipus -
I'd rather marry a duck-billed platypus,
Than end up like old Oedipus Rex.

The out-patients are out in force tonight, I see.

more Lehrer lyrics here

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