I figured that we'd do a double-header tonight, and what better way than a couple of holiday songs by the wonderful Tom Lehrer -- one for Hanukkah, the other Christmas.
For a while, his song "Hanukkah in Santa Monica" rumbled around in semi-obscurity, though it's started to get a bit of attention the past five years or so. Even if you've heard it, though, you might not be aware of its background.
Tom Lehrer had largely been in retirement from performing for many years, and continued simply being a mathematics professor at the University of California, Santa Cru. But in 1990, he, was invited to make an an appearance on Garrison Keillor’s show, American Radio Company, (which was basically what Keillor renamed A Prairie Home Companionafter he stopped and before he brought it back). And for the occasion, he wrote "Hanukkah in Santa Monica." Here it is --
And to complete our double-feature, this is a much older song of Tom Lehrer's, It's from his classic album released in 1959, An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer". It's his "A Christmas Carol."
Side Note: As I've explained earlier, when the movie musical Scrooge, was released, its composer Leslie Bricusse told about how they had done research and had found that no song had ever been written called, "A Christmas Carol," and so he proudly proclaimed that he wrote the first one for the movie. A couple problems with that: first, in the 1956 TV adaptation of the very same Dickens story, which they called The Stingiest Man in Town," the show had a song called...yes, "A Christmas Carol." And second, this is yet another song with the same title, three years after that. (It's worth noting that although this song is "little-known," Tom Lehrer has and had a big following, and this album was not obscure.) I like the movie Scrooge and its score. But even given that this was in the days before the Internet, Leslie Bricusse needed better researchers. Indeed, I suspect if one doesn't even try to hard, one could find a bunch of others.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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