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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Christmas Carol

(Seeing Santa Claus, 1876 by Thomas Nast,
1840-1902, American editorial cartoonist)

Tom Lehrer was a university lecturer in mathematics when he started to compose satirical ditties and perform them at the piano. The recordings of his night club shows in the 1950s and 60s remain popular because the lyrics, with only a few exceptions, are still topical. They could have been written yesterday.

To listen to a tape of Lehrer’s performance of this song, click on the link (you may have to cut and paste):


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’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 heartfelt 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 you make the Yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!

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

~ Tom Lehrer, born 1928, American satirist, pianist, and mathematician, from An Evening (Wasted) with Tom Lehrer

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