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We'll All Go Together When We Go: Tom Lehrer [1959]

A typically clever Tom Lehrer end of the world 'survival hymn' that contains the spectacular lyric: "When the air becomes uranious, we will all go simulataneous."

In an interview, Lehrer recalled the circumstances of the song's composition: "I wrote it in 1956 while I was in the army, the United States army, I hasten to add. America is free today, so draw your own conclusions." Lehrer remembered that one day while he was doing KP duty "the title popped into my head and once the title popped into my head, the rest was just a matter of finding, giving examples."

Satirical singer-songwriter, pianist, mathematician and teacher Tom Lehrer was born in New York, New York in 1928. At the age of eight Lehrer began taking classical piano lessons from a teacher who exposed the impressionable youth to show tunes. At the age of 15 Lehrer graduated from high school and was accepted to Harvard University where, in addition to studying math, he began performing some of his humorous compositions for his friends. In 1951 and 1952 Lehrer publicly performed his collected academic parody songs as 'The Physical Revue.' In 1953 while still a graduate student at Harvard his friends urged him to record his songs and Lehrer obliged by stepping into a local recording studio to produce 'Songs By Tom Lehrer'. Lehrer then had 400 10" records pressed which he sold to various people around the campus and elsewhere. Word about the album eventually resulted in numerous orders and Lehrer had to have more copies made and hire a company to handle the distribution. Reportedly, the LP wound up selling 350,000 copies. Unfortunately, the next career move for the artist was the U.S. Army which is where, as has already been noted, he wrote the track featured on this set.

After getting out of the service, Lehrer returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he performed at various nightclubs and auditoriums locally and in other cities. In 1959 Lehrer had developed enough new material for his second LP. 'An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer' was the result of material culled from two live performances at Harvard's Sanders Theater. A studio version of the same set of songs was released simultaneously under the title of 'More Of Tom Lehrer.'

After an unpleasant series of concerts in Australia in approximately 1960, Lehrer decided to return to his vocation of teaching. Four years later Lehrer was tempted back into show business to write songs for the satirical TV program 'That Was The Week That Was' which ran for one season on NBC. Lehrer was less than pleased with how the producers of the program edited his lyrics, so in 1965 he released 'That Was The Year That Was' featuring the songs (plus several others he had written) the way they were intended to be heard. In 1972 Lehrer again wrote for television for the PBS educational program 'The Electric Company.' The now happily semi-retired Lehrer continues to teach math.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
We'll All Go Together When We Go: Tom Lehrer [1959]

Spoken introduction:

I am reminded at this point of a fellow I used to know whose name was Henry, only to give you an idea of what an individualist he was he spelled it H-E-N-3-R-Y. The 3 was silent, you see. (Laughter) Henry (more laughter), Henry was financially independent, having inherited his father's tar and feather business, and was therefore able to devote his full time to such intellectual pursuits as writing – I particularly remember a heart-warming novel of his about a young necrophiliac who finally achieved his boyhood ambition by becoming
A coroner. (Laughter) The rest of you can look it up when you get home. (Loud and long laughter) In addition to writing, he indulged in a good deal of philosophizing. Like so many contemporary philosophers he especially enjoyed giving helpful advice to people who were happier than he was, and one (Laughter), one particular bit of advice which I recall, which is the reason I bring up this whole dreary story, is something he said once before they took him away to the Massachusetts State Home for the Bewildered (laughter), he said, "Life is like a sewer. What you get our of it depends on what you put into it!" (Long, loud laughter) So it seemed to me that this is precisely the sort of dynamic, positive thinking that we so desperately need today in these trying times of crisis and universal brouhaha, and so with this in mind I have here a modern, positive, dynamic uplifting song in the tradition of the great old revival hymns. This one might be more accurately termed a survival hymn, it goes like this…

When you attend a funeral
It is sad to think that sooner or
Later those you love will do the same for you
And you may have thought it tragic
Not to mention other adjec-
Tives, to think of all the weeping they will do
(But don't you worry.)

No more ashes, no more sackcloth
And an arm band made of black cloth
Will some day nevermore adorn a sleeve
For if the bomb that drops on you
Gets your friends and neighbors too
There'll be nobody left behind to grieve

And we will all go together when we go
What a comforting fact that is to know
Universal bereavement
An inspiring achievement
Yes, we all will go together when we go

We will all go together when we go
All suffused with an incandescent glow
No one will have the endurance
To collect on his insurance
Lloyd's of London will be loaded when they go

Oh we will all fry together when we fry
We'll be French fried potatoes by and by
There will be no more misery
When the world is our rotisserie
Yes, we all will fry together when we fry

Down by the old maelstrom
There'll be a storm before the calm

And we will all bake together when we bake
There'll be nobody present at the wake
With complete participation
In that grand incineration
Nearly three billion hunks of well-done steak

Oh we will all char together when we char
And let there be no moaning of the bar
Just sing out a Te Deum
When you see that I.C.B.M.
And the party will be come-as-you-are

Oh, we will all burn together when we burn
There'll be no need to stand and wait your turn
When it's time for the fallout
And Saint Peter calls us all out
We'll just drop our agendas and adjourn

You will all go directly to your respective Valhallas
Go directly, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollahs

And we will all go together when we go
Every Hottentot and every Eskimo
When the air becomes uranious
We will all go simultaneous
Yes, we all will go together
When we all go together
Yes we all will go together when we go

Tom Lehrer [1959]
We'll All Go Together When We Go
(Tom Lehrer)
Lehrer Records TL 202S LP 'An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer'

CATEGORY: SONGS: ATOMIC[ 1 | COMMENTS | May 10, 06 | 4:10 am ]

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