Tom Lehrer Sings The Periodic Table.
October 23, 2002 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Thanks. "So long mom, I'm off to drop the Bomb.....

In the words (and music) of Tom Lehrer......

"This year we've been celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War and the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of World War I and the twentieth anniversary of the end of World War II. So all in all, it's been a good year for the war buffs. And a number of LPs and television specials have come out capitalizing on all this nostalgia, with particular emphasis on the songs of the various wars.

I feel that if any songs are gonna come out of World War III, we'd better start writing them now. I have one here. Might call it a bit of pre-nostalgia.

This is the song that some of the boys sang as they went bravely off to World War III:

So long, mom,
I'm off to drop the bomb,
So don't wait up for me.
But while you swelter
Down there in your shelter
You can see me
On your TV.

While we're attacking frontally
Watch Brinkally and Huntally
Describing contrapuntally
The cities we have lost.
No need for you to miss a minute of the agonizing holocaust. Yeah!

Little Johnny Jones, he was a US pilot,
And no shrinking violet was he.
He was mighty proud when World War III was declared.
He wasn't scared, no siree!

And this is what he said on
His way to Armageddon:

So long, mom,
I'm off to drop the bomb,
So don't wait up for me.
But though I may roam,
I'll come back to my home
Although it may be
A pile of debris.

Remember, mommy,
I'm off to get a commie,
So send me a salami
And try to smile somehow.
I'll look for you when the war is over,
An hour and a half from now!"



In World War II, there was a popular song called Goodbye Momma, I'm Off to Yokahama
posted by troutfishing at 9:11 AM on October 23, 2002

That's cracked. Reminds me of the Animaniacs' State Capitals or Countries of the World songs.
Now if he could sign the symbols of the periodic tables, that would be crazy.
Zr, Nb, Mo, Tc, Ru, Rh...
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:13 AM on October 23, 2002

Tom Lehrer is great.
How many of those elements hadn't you heard of?
On preview, the Animaniacs and Histaria . . . although I can't find a link to Histaria . . . Funny stuff, thx Miguel
posted by geekyguy at 9:19 AM on October 23, 2002

Bah, physics! I'd much rather enjoy the true science that is ornithology.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:24 AM on October 23, 2002

Flash animation, but it's not Friday yet!

Yes, in the catagory of university professors/recording artists Lehrer's humor and lyrics, while dated, are still the best. Of course lets not forget the runner ups.
posted by Gif at 9:35 AM on October 23, 2002

Or even, given the current political climate, armageddon?
posted by tabbycat at 9:39 AM on October 23, 2002

A) Tom Lehrer rocks.

B) I wish that site's author had offered some reward for being able to sing along. I memorized that song when I was a teenager. I can still sing it (even though it's out-of-date now). Go ahead. Dare me.
posted by soyjoy at 9:40 AM on October 23, 2002

Excellent song. Worthy of the Muppets, even.
posted by jazon at 9:41 AM on October 23, 2002

*dares soyjoy*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:07 AM on October 23, 2002

Don't miss this tribute to Mopsey
posted by geekyguy at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2002

*dares soyjoy*

there's antimonyarsenicaluminumseleniumandhydorgenandoxygenandnitrogenandrhenium
europiumzirconiumrutesiumvanadium... uh...

You know, it's only occurring to me now that although I know how to pronounce all these (at least very quickly) I don't know how all of them are spelled. I guess the uses of this as a basis for chemistry scholarship are not as great as I'd thought. I'll give up on the typing version - y'all will just have to wait till I upload the Flash version of my own performance.
posted by soyjoy at 10:25 AM on October 23, 2002

My favorite is a more recent Lehrer composition, "That's Mathematics:"

Andrew Wiles gently smiles,
Does his thing, and voila!
Q.E.D., we agree,
And we all shout hurrah!
As he confirms what Fermat
Jotted down in that margin,
Which could've used some enlargin'.

posted by PrinceValium at 10:34 AM on October 23, 2002

Jeez, I tried to memorize the elements song when I was a kid too. Got up to about neptunium.

Lehrer kicks it. I used to play songs like "Smut" on the piano before I really knew what they were talking about.

Give me smut and nothing but!
A dirty novel I can't shut
If it's uncut
and unsubt-le.

What a nerd.

posted by gottabefunky at 10:37 AM on October 23, 2002

You just made my day, Miguel.
I've always thought that "When You're Old and Grey" was indisputable proof of Lehrer's genius:

An awful debility,
A lessened utility,
A loss of mobility
Is a strong possibility.
In all probability
I'll lose my virility
And you your fertility
And desirability,
And this liability
Of total sterility
Will lead to hostility
And a sense of futility,
So let's act with agility
While we still have facility,
For we'll soon reach senility
And lose the ability.

posted by hippugeek at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2002

I'm a huge Lehrer fan. I'm unable to walk through Trafalgar Square in the spring without a quick sing of Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, and being a writer I'm also prone to bursting into Lobachevsky:

Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize...
Only be sure always to call it please, "research".

posted by anyanka at 11:40 AM on October 23, 2002

My personal favorite: The Vatican Rag

Get in line in that processional
Step into that small confessional
There, the guy who's got religion'll
Tell you if your sin's original

If it is, try playin' it safer
Drink the wine and chew the wafer
Two, four, six, eight
Time to transubstantiate

posted by Ty Webb at 1:39 PM on October 23, 2002

My dad turned me on to Lehrer when I was a kid, took me to see a revue of Lehrer's work, each song performed in appropriate costume by a musical troupe in a tiny, shabby theater on Manhattan's upper east side. The band consisted of piano, drumkit, and double bass. They rocked.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:42 PM on October 23, 2002

"Und I'm learning Chinese," says Wernher von Braun!

Absolutely charming little animation.

I'm gonna go home and listen to my Tom Lehrer 3-CD box set tonight.
posted by briank at 1:48 PM on October 23, 2002

*concedes soyjoy has the beans and cajoles him into taking $100 bucks from the petty cash*

*considering better, throws in a drink*

(And envies being Ty Webb's father's son!)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:44 PM on October 23, 2002

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