Friday, December 11, 2009

Tom Lehrer: Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

The fabulous Fun Friday feature foday (sorry, I couldn’t resist having another word beginning with “F”) is by Professor Tom Lehrer. As Lehrer is the sultan of satire, he found the strangest ideas to translate into songs that are on par with what one might find in musical theater. Today, we provide his irreverent look at “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.” No animals were hurt in the preparation of this blog.

Lehrer, a former Harvard mathematics lecturer, often wrote songs on controversial subjects that included the arms race, the cold war, the sexual revolution, the environment, the Vietnam War, Vatican II, and racism. In addition, he performed lighthearted numbers that dealt with a number of subjects; however, many were related to educational topics such as, grammar, the periodic table of elements, and the new math.

I first heard Lehrer’s music on Dr. Demento’s show in the mid 1970s. It wasn’t until the end of the decade that I found his first album at flea market at the Huntington (WV) Civic Arena. Although today’s song did not appear on “Songs by Tom Lehrer,” the 10 inch album from 1953 provided 12 songs that dealt with a variety of social and humorous topics. It is reported that he recorded all 12 cuts in one hour’s time at a cost of $15. The initial pressing was of 400 copies.


Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here.
Life is skittles, and life is beer.
I think the loveliest time of the year
Is the spring! I do - Don't you? 'Course you do.
But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me
And makes every Sunday a treat for me

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park...
Every Sunday you'll see my sweetheart and me
As we poison the pigeons in the park

When they see us coming the birdies all try and hide
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide
The sun's shining bright, everything seems alright
When we're poison pigeons in the park

We've gained notoriety
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society with our games...

They call it impiety,
And lack of propriety, and
Quite a variety of unpleasant names.

But it's not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon ...

So, if Sunday you're free, why don't you come with me
And we'll poison the pigeons in the park
And maybe we'll do in a squirrel or two
While we poison the pigeons in the park
My pulse will be quickenin' with each drop of strychnin'
We feed to a pigeon, it just takes a smidgen
To poison a pigeon in the park

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