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  • Writer's pictureJames McGee

So long, Mom! Tom Lehrer...poet or prophet?

"Y'know, every great war produces its great hit songs and after each war we like to gather around the piano or the guitar and play these songs. We enjoy the songs because they remind us of how much we enjoyed the war.

Now, World War III is almost upon us as you know, by popular demand, it seems, and it occurred to me that if any songs are to come out of World War III we better start writing them now. So I have one here..."

Tom Lehrer

For those of you who've never heard of the great Tom Lehrer, you're missing a rare treat...and I do mean rare.

A retired American mathematics lecturer, he's also a musician, singer-songwriter and satirist. He's also lectured on musical theatre. He's best known, however, for the utterly brilliant songs he recorded back in the 1950s and 1960s.

I thought it particularly apt, given the present state of world hostilities, to give him a mention. If you'd like to see him performing one of his best songs just click on the photo above.

The lyrics - as relevant today as they were all those decades ago - are laid out below, but best just to watch the master in action.

The Donald would do well to take heed, though I doubt he has the right sense of humour.

Or that he can even read.

'So long, mom!

I'm off to drop the Bomb So don't wait up for me But while you swelter Down there in your shelter You can see me On your TV While we're attacking frontally Watch Brinkley and Huntley Describing contrapuntally The cities we have lost No need for you to miss a minute Of the agonizing holocaust Yeah! Little Johnny Jones He was a US pilot And no shrinking violet Was he, he was mighty proud When World War III was declared He wasn't scared No siree!

And this is what he said on His way to Armageddon: So long, mom! I'm off to drop the Bomb So don't wait up for me But though I may roam I'll come back to my home Although it may be A pile of debris.

Remember, mommy! I'm off to get a commie So send me a salami And try to smile somehow I'll look for you When the war is over An hour and a half from now!

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