And happily, he has two songs that fit perfectly in our Holiday Music Fest of little known holiday songs or recordings. This first has gotten a bit more attention in recent years, a rarity for Tom Lehrer, but that's cause for rejoicing. What's also rare is that it's a Hanukkah song. And as whimsy would have it, that perfectly fits this year because the first night of Hannukah falls on Christmas Eve, so two-religion households this year have a two-fer.
This was a fairly new song in the Lehrer opus, written long after his height of popularly in the late 1960s, and then went into a sort of self-imposed semi-retirement back to teaching mathematics at UC Berkley. If memory serves he wrote this for a rare "return" appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. ("Rare," you may have noticed is a theme here today.) It got such a wonderful reaction that he recorded it with the arrangement orchestrated for the show, which is why this is a rare (see?!) Tom Lehrer performance that isn't just him at the piano. This is his wonderful "Hannukah in Santa Monica."
This second song returns us to Christmas. It comes from his 1959 album, "An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer," and is pretty quintessential of his offbeat, sardonic work. This is "A Christmas Carol."