Music: The Remains of Tom Lehrer

In the '50s came a Harvard man--a math prof by trade--with a crew cut, a strangulated tenor and a way of forcing parables of antisocial behavior (e.g., incest) into jolly rhyme schemes ("I'd rather marry a duck-billed pledipus/ Than end up like old Oedipus/ Rex"). For a few years, on albums and in concerts, Lehrer was a comedy hero to the intelligentsia and other lonely people. He surfaced briefly to write songs for the TV shows That Was the Week That Was (no one, not even those who tried, can forget National Brotherhood Week) and The Electric Company (kids hummed Silent...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!