Which Tom Lehrer album should I buy?

I’ve heard a few of his songs on my Dr. Demento collection and think he’s quite funny. So, I’m going to go buy one of his albums (and if I like that one, go on to more).

My question is, which one should I buy?

Please don’t recommend box sets; I’m just looking for one CD to start.

So, which is his funniest/best CD?

Zev Steinhardt

Well, if you have to pick one, i’d go with An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer. It’s a live concert recording, so it includes patter and humorous asides inbetween songs. The CD includes his signature song, “Poisoning Pigoens in the Park”

It also has The Elements, which is the periodic table sung to the tune of “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”

Thanks, gobear.

Those are the two songs that I heard on my DD CDs.

Zev Steinhardt

I second the vote for An Evening ^Wasted With Tom Lehrer. That Was the Year That Was would be a good choice if you want songs with more of a political focus. It has such classics as Wehrner Von Braun and The Vatican Rag. Just don’t play it around any Catholics…

Actually, you’ll need two albums . . .

“An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer” is indeed amazing, but you also have to have That Was the Year That Was, which contains

Son Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)
The Vatican Rag
New Math

But whichever albums you buy, make sure they’re live albums (both of these are). His spoken bits with the audiences are great, and their laughter only makes things better.

I started with Songs and More Songs – then got the The Remains of Tom Lehrer box set for Christmas. I was rather disappointed, as much of the material is repeated and redundant. (studio vs live vs orchestrated).

However, finally owning “Silent E” and being able to play it whenever I wanted almost made up for the disappointment.

Now - Tip of the Freberg - THAT was definitely worthwhile!

I grew up with “An Evening Wasted,” but “Songs” and “More Songs” (Rhino Combined the two into a CD) has more staying power.

I gotta disagree with Gobear: An Evening Wasted With… is good and would be my second choice, but I’d have to give the nod to That Was the Year that Was.

The first time I heard “The Vatican Rag” and “National Brotherhood Week” I laughed so hard that I couldn’t breathe!

But it’d be best to get 'em both!


I give my vote wholeheartedly to That Was the Year That Was. It has some amazing songs that will keep you laughing forever.

Like Fenris, I also love An Evening…, but it’s certainly second on the list.

As an aside, Tom Lehrer was my dad’s math teacher professor, and apparently he was not generally a funny guy. However, my dad did see him break down with a couple songs at a faculty party one day.

Well, TWTWTW was actually my first choice, but the humor references are so topical and dated–“Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek to cheek”–that I feel An Evening Wasted… is a better Tom Lehrer introduction.

Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions. I picked up An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer and will listen to it shortly.

I certainly look forward to laughing out loud.

Zev Steinhardt

HA! :stuck_out_tongue:

The “topical” line was exactly why I recommended it (and considered using “Lena Horne…etc”) as a quote! It’s a period piece nowdays, a slice of history if you will.


Funny how history comes round again. Or the mood of the times does. ALl together now “and we will all go together when we go…”

:slight_smile: or do I mean :frowning:

…every Hottentot and every Eskimo!
When the air becomes uranious,
We will all go simultaneous.
Yes, we all will go together
When we all go together,
Yes we all will go together when we go…

(and the intro has one of my favorite rhymes EVER:

And you may have thought it tragic
Not to mention other adjec
Tives to think of all the weeping they will do…)

My father, who was more or less raised by Jesuits, and was at one time training to be a preist himself, apparently almost laughed himself unconcious the first time he heard “Vatican Rag”. So not all Catholics will be offended, only the ones lacking a sense of humor.

I also like “Pollution”:

“Pollution, pollution, you can use the latest toothpaste…
Then rinse your mouth with industrial waste!”

“Vonce the Rockets go up
Who cares vhere zey come down?
That’s not my department!”
Says Werner Von Braun

From the Bible to the popular song,
There’s one theme that we find right along.
Of all ideals they hail as good,
The most sublime is Motherhood.

There was a man, oh, who it seems,
Once carried this ideal to extremes.
He loved his mother and she loved him,
And yet his story is rather grim.

There once lived a man named Oedipus Rex.
You may have heard about his odd complex.
His name appears in Freud’s index
'Cause he loved his mother.

His rivals used to say quite a bit,
That as a monarch he was most unfit.
But still in all they had to admit
That he loved his mother.

Another vote for “Evening Wasted…”. A constant touchstone of sorts, esp. every spring: “Spring is here! Spring is here,/Life is skittles and life is beer!..”.

When the box set came out, I read in a couple of reviews that amonst the copious information on Lehrer contained therein, is this nugget: that in the 1950’s, while working at Los Alamos, the newly-minted mathematician co-invented, with a couple of his silliest buddies…

…the Jello shot.

[rim shot]


I picked up a great CD which not only has both the live albums, but it’s actually cheaper than either of them - I don’t know if it’s available everywhere, but here in Melbourne, I see it for about $17 Australian (about $9 US). It’s called Tom Lehrer In Concert. The Amazon link I gave is a bit pricier than it is here in Australia, but it gives you a look at the cover, and track listing.

“All the Catholics hatre the Protestants
And the Protestsants hate the Catholics
all the Hindus hate the Muslims
and everybody hates the Jews!”

Sadly, it’s not all that dated, after all. :frowning: