Footnotes for

Tom Lehrer:

The Political Musician That Wasn't

By Jeremy Mazner

Final paper for "Music and Social Movements"

© Copyright 1995, 1996. All rights reserved.

1Part of Lehrer's research while in the army resulted in development of the alcoholic gelatin shot, invented to circumvent regulations prohibiting alcohol on military bases.[11a]

2Foreign radio stations, particularly the English BBC, had fewer qualms about playing Lehrer's songs. By 1959, when he was just becoming popular in America, Lehrer was already a well known figure in England.[19]

3The record alone (i.e., not including the CD version) would eventually sell 350,000 copies [4]

4"When the shades of night are falling/Comes a fellow everyone knows/It's the old dope peddler/Spreading joy wherever he goes." According to Lehrer, the song "which in 1948 was intended as a takeoff on certain sentimental songs, has become almost chilling." [12]

5von Braun was a key scientist in the U.S. space program who got his start building rockets for the Nazis.

6M.L.F. stands for Multilateral Task Force, a proposed nuclear weapons coalition whose members would have included Germany.

7J. Morris's discography of Lehrer even notes that "A film of 'Pollution', featuring ... real scenes of industrial excess from across America, was made in 1966 ... for the U.S. Communicable Disease Center."[16]

8According to a Newsweek article, the station would eventually receive "400 angry phone calls and hundreds of irate letters." [1]

9Lehrer's take on the reason for the controversy is that the song "wasn't intended for general consumption, and it wasn't played in general. It's only when it leaked out like that, when it was played for a captive audience that weren't tuned in for that ... then you've got to watch yourself. Usually when I was on television, I would only do the least controversial songs, like 'Pollution'."[11a] Lehrer is also quick to note that in "Vatican Rag", he took particular care to make fun of only the trappings of Catholicism, and not the religion itself.

10The two songs, "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" and "Masochism Tango" were released as a 45" single in 1960 on the Capricorn label (C-451).

11Lehrer disagrees with this assessment, musing "I wonder who was bringing up the rear then." [11a]