Day 25 – A Song That Makes You Laugh
“The Masochism Tango” – Tom Lehrer
This was easy. When I first saw the 30 Days list, and this posited query, I knew I would pick Tom Lehrer. The only question was which song of his to pick as there are so many that are worthy and actually make me laugh out loud.
I grew up listening to Dr. Demento, the syndicated radio program of humorous songs and comedy bits. A variety of novelty records as well as comedic musicians would wind up there, such as Allan Sherman, Ray Stevens, Spike Jones, The Frantics, and yes, “Weird” Al Yankovic. I don’t know if this is where I first heard Tom Lehrer, but I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s not the kind of musician one seeks out without some form of prior knowledge or introduction.
Originally self-releasing a couple of albums in the late 50s and early 60s, he largely retired from music to be a mathematician. He would come out of retirement to contribute a few songs for the original series of “The Electric Company” or a stage production, but he kept a very low profile.
Really, there isn’t much to say about Tom Lehrer that his music wouldn’t. Usually it’s just him and a piano, but a few songs feature orchestration. I could have picked almost any song of his, such as “National Brotherhood Week”, “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park” or “The Elements” (which is, essentially, a Gilbert & Sullivan rendition of the periodic table). He has a number of great songs, including his version of the Harvard fight song, or “The Vatican Rag” but “The Masochism Tango” is as good as anything else.
In a way, this is the entry that interests me the most as to what other people would have chosen. Do many other people even know that music is available that could make them laugh. If they do, are they aware the “Weird” Al Yankovic isn’t just a novelty act? Besides, picking him would have been too easy. I could have gone with Frank Zappa, but his name is more well known among music fans. Besides, Tom Lehrer never fails to make me laugh.