Tom Lehrer, LPs, and my aunt

February 27, 2014

My father listened to opera.  A lot.  I will leave it at that.

His sister, who was about 18 months younger than he was, was as warm as he was reserved.  They were close, and she would tease him.

One of the manifestations of this aspect of their relationship was her gift to him of the Tom Lehrer album “That Was the Year That Was.”

My father didn’t listen to it, but my sister and I did.  We were in our formative years, I suppose, and the album made a big impression.

Part of the context in which we listened to it were the albums our aunt gave to us directly:  Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends,” Judy Collins’ “Recollections,” Peter, Paul, & Mary’s “Album 1700.”  We would not have been exposed to this music at that age without those gifts.

So the Tom Lehrer album also seemed to be a message smuggled in from the other side.   I think that is part of why I hear its ideas as background structure to much of modern civic discourse even now.  And, of course, it covered a lot of ground, with wit and compassion and sometimes scathing insight.

I still have that Tom Lehrer album.  It did not get stolen along with the many albums that did.  Our turntables at this point need repair, and the fellow in town who used to do that kind of work has disappeared.  But there is YouTube, and that allows one to read the facial expressions in the performance, so there is some added benefit to revisiting them there, even if I sometimes miss the particular renditions of the songs.

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4 Responses to “Tom Lehrer, LPs, and my aunt”

  1. Errol Korn Says:

    Thanks for mentioning Tom, I had forgotten about him. Your post sent me to a small youtube orgy and remembrances of when I saw him perform in the mid 60s in Cambridge at an anti Vietnam war gathering. He was, and still is, great. I have had the Irish Ballad , rickety-tickety-tin , memorized all these years.

    Boulder, CO

    • Diana Moses Says:

      And I associate Boulder with memories of my aunt. uncle, and cousins, so your dateline is a nice prompt for my memories, too.

      • Errol Korn Says:

        It is nice you have that Boulder connection. The reasons I wrote you is first I kept on reading your comments in NYT opinion peaces usually, but not always, agreeing. The other is growing up next door (Lexington) to where you live. It felt like we were part of the same social mandala, so I thought I would say hello.
        That being said, I will be gone for the next month at a meditation retreat. Take care and let’s hope the Supreme Court doesn’t do any more serious harm in the near future.
        Errol

      • Diana Moses Says:

        Sounds wonderful, going on a meditation retreat for a month.


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