Christmas Posts 2016 part 2


I have my Parents to thank for introducing me to Tom Lehrer, at the impressionable age of 7. I’m sure some people think that 7 is too young to understand satire, and they’re probably right, but this helped shape into the man I am today, so thanks Mum and Dad.

There are people better qualified than I to lead a discussion on who is the greatest American satirist…let’s just say Lehrer is one of them.

There’s a number of well-known Lehrer songs, I’ve always loved this.

Christmas Posts 2011 #2


I’ve written about my love of Tom Lehrer before. This is one for my folks, who introduced me to his work at a young age.

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly.
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say when.

Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens.
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas Day you can’t get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore.
There’s time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.

Relations, sparing no expense, I’ll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
(“Just the thing I need, how nice!”)

It doesn’t matter how sincere it is,
Nor how heart felt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
What’s important is the price.

Hark, the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry merchants,
May ye make the Yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high,
Tell us to go out and buy!

So let the raucous sleighbells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend Kriss Kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don’t stand underneath when they fly by.

Tom Lehrer -‘A Christmas Carol.’ mp3

Christmas posts part 25


Bloody exhausted.

Two more sleeps to Santa, so here’s a bit of a hotch potch of stuff, if you’re still interested.

First up, that How To Swim Christmas EP is now available:

Meanwhile, my friend JC at the Vinyl Villain did an excellent post on Monday that I thought you should check, if you haven’t already and Aye Tunes continues to be excellent for Christmas-related music. And there’s this over at NME. And this.

A few tracks that have appeared here over the years…just in case you’re interested or missed them in previous years:

Manic Street Preachers -‘Christmas Ghost.’ mp3

Darlene Love -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

The Knife -‘Christmas Reindeer.’ mp3

Tom Lehrer -‘A Christmas Carol.’ mp3

Tom Waits -‘Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis.’ mp3

XTC -‘Thanks For Christmas.’ mp3

Don’t Let It Snow


No posts yesterday – what should have been a fairly starightforward drive of twenty miles became a hideous nightmare of car spinning, virtually zero visibility, freezing temperatures…and posting ‘Thank you dreaded black ice, thank you’ by Giant Sand would be too much like playing ‘Crash’ by the Primitives in the car. I am back safe in the warm and never want to go near a supermarket ever again. At least not until we’ve run out of food.

Tom Lehrer – ‘A Christmas Carol.’ mp3

RUN DMC -‘Christmas In Hollis.’ mp3

Liz Phair -‘Winter Wonderland.’ mp3

Sufjan Stevens -‘It’s Christmas Time.’ mp3

Sonic Youth -‘Santa Claus Doesn’t Cop Out On Dope.’ mp3

Bullette -‘Blue Christmas.’ mp3

Hope Christmas cynicism has been abated by news of the Rage Victory…

Happy Birthday Mum!

This post is dedicated to my Mum who is…(you don’t honestly think I’m going to say do you?) celebrating her birthday today. And no, that’s not her above, but one of my Mum’s favourite singers, the legendary Eartha Kitt. Eartha Kitt was the original Catwoman (literally, she played her in the 1960s TV series of Batman), who spoke out against the Vietnam War at a White House Lunch hosted by LBJ’s wife in 1968 which saw her blacklisted in the US(who said McCarthyism died in the 1950s?). As a child from a mixed race background in the deep American South of the 1920s, life must have been unimaginably hard, but she took her exotic looks and and is still using them to delight and terrify generations of people decades later.

For me, it’s the songs that she made in the 1950s which we would listen on car journeys (some of my contemporaries had to suffer the aural equivalent of Thatcherism in the likes of Dire Straits and other capitalist aesthetic monstrosities) such as ‘Old Fashioned Girl’ and ‘I Want To Be Evil.’ She’d horrified my maternal Grandmother, who took her songs at face value.

So Mum, here for you, is Eartha Kitt singing I want To Be Evil:

Listen to Eartha kitt here
Eartha Kitt’s official website

Eartha Kitt on wikipedia

Another person that my Mum and Dad played to my brother and I when we were young was Tom Lehrer. This send-up of the Catholic Church and Vatican II is utterly hysterical. As far as I’m concerned, the likes of Tom Lehrer and Eartha Kitt were far more radical and anti-establishment than many artists could ever hope to be. Consider them the Jello Biafras and Madonnas of their day…except they’re still going. According to Wikipedia, ‘There is a misconception that Lehrer gave up political satire when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger in 1973. He did say that the awarding of the prize to Kissinger made political satire obsolete, but has denied that he stopped doing satire as a form of protest, and asserts that he had stopped doing satire several years earlier.’

Happy birthday Ma.


Tom Lehrer website

Tom Lehrer on Wikipedia

An Apology

You never know quite whose reading a blog.

Sure, you know from the people that leave comments and there are various things you can do to track readers, but sometimes you don’t know who’s reading, until some follow-up happens.

This morning Mrs 17 Seconds and I came in from doing our weekly food shop, to find a phone message from Mother Seconds, asking if I was ok, as she had just been reading 17 Seconds, and I had said I was stressed, and was I OK?

Well, I was touched she had rung to ask. I’d managed to unwind slightly over the weekend.

And then embarassed that I had forgotten her and Father seconds’ wedding anniversary a few days ago.

So folks, these are few you. lots of love, a lot of apologies and hopefully we will have spoken by the time you read this. Hell, I’ve dedicated several posts to Mrs 17 Seconds and Brother Seconds, it’s time you had one too.

The Beatles -‘A Hard day’s Night.’ mp3

Abba -‘The Winner Takes It All.’ mp3

Bob Dylan -‘Like A Rolling Stone.’ mp3

And our family favourite…Tom Lehrer:

Tom Lehrer -‘Poisoning Pigeons In The Park.’ mp3

It’s not against any religion, to want to dispose of a pigeon

Tom Lehrer about to poison Pigeons in a Park (not really)

Well, it’s probably against aspects of many of them but only if you interpret it that way…

All credit to my wonderful parents that unlike many of those I went to school with (whether friends or not) that instead of subjecting their children to turgid rock or sickly stuff like Celine Dion, somehow the might of the mighty Tom Lehrer sunk his way into my subconscious at a very early age, and my brother’s at an even younger. What with my Mum dropping me on my head as a baby, growing up with Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and eating meat until I was fourteen…it’s amazing I’m still here.

Tom Lehrer sent up the American Establishment in a musical style not hugely dissimilar to Ben Folds jamming with Jello Biafra and with a humour that makes many punk bands seem frankly po-faced. Hell, the man could sing about incest (‘Oedipus Rex’), Vatican II (‘The Vatican Rag’) or Masochism (‘the masochism Tango’) and still be bloody funny.

Read about Tom Lehrer at Wikipedia.

Check out these mp3s, and see what you’ve been missing all these years.

first up, one to make you realise that you might know one of his songs

Tom Lehrer -‘The Elements.’ mp3

One of his most famous songs;

Tom Lehrer -‘Poisoning Pigeons In The Park.’ mp3

Families? who needs ’em!

Tom Lehrer -‘The Irish Ballad.’ mp3

‘Fracture your spine and say you’ll be mine, as we dance to

Tom Lehrer -‘The Masochism Tango.’ mp3

And of course, in the fifties, nuclear war was the only way to go (actually, that might still be true)

Tom Lehrer -‘We Will All Go Together When We Go.’ mp3

If you like this, and have discovered that North Americans Do do irony after all, then go buy The Remains Of Tom Lehrer CD boxset.