Science (and other songs…)

The art of the satirical composer is a creation that can be sublime or hideous.  Many people try, but end up with horrible songs that do not stand up at all; at the other end of the spectrum, one of the finest ever, especially for the nerds, was Tom Lehrer.

You may not have heard of him, as he wrote mostly in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when he wasn’t gaining his degree from Harvard, teaching Political Science at MIT or Mathematics at the University of California, working at Los Alamos, or serving in the Army (at the NSA!).  There is still much interest in his work however, and lots of material available, despite the fact that he withdrew from the music scene and focussed on teaching Mathemathics from the early 70s until 2001, when he retired.

Typically, he used to parody songs, writing new lyrics to fit old tunes, and tended to concentrate on political, current affairs, or scientific topics, although there are some songs that were a result of his time at Harvard and in the Army.

The two most well known songs of his are ‘Poisoning Pigeons in the Park’ and ‘The Elements’, the latter of which is actually the Periodic table of the Elements set to music; educational!

It is well worth looking into his work, especially if you like nerdy subjects, parodies, or just sharp wordplay!

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