Monday, September 04, 2006

Who's Next?

First we got the bomb and that was good,
'Cause we love peace and motherhood.
Then Russia got the bomb, but that's O.K.,
'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way!
Who's next?
"Who's Next?" by Tom Lehrer from That Was The Year That Was

In his recent blog entry "Lieberman-Lamont: Rock & Roll, Baby!!" Vigilante quoted one of Tom Lehrer's songs to make an important and relevant point. In the discussion that followed, Lehrer's song was dissected and analyzed to both the amazement and delight of the participants.

Considering the song, Whatever Happened to Hubert?" was written well over 40 years ago, this discussion speaks to the brilliance and insight of the incredible Tom Lehrer. Lehrer was both a political commentator and humorist beyond compare.

France got the bomb, but don't you grieve,
'Cause they're on our side (I believe).
China got the bomb, but have no fears;
They can't wipe us out for at least five years!
Who's next?
"Who's Next?" by Tom Lehrer from That Was The Year That Was

Because we play all of Tom Lehrer's music on WiZARD RADIO I began to think about how many of his songs are relevant in today's political climate. The vast majority of his recorded work was written in the turbulent 1960's and during the height of the Viet Nam War.
That Was The Year That Was

We had just gone throughout the trauma of the assassination of a very popular president, John F. Kennedy, followed immediately by one of the most divisive and bitter presidential elections in history. Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy's Vice President, was elected President largely due to the sorrow and grieving over the loss of President Kennedy.

But he was also elected because he convinced the public his opponent, Barry Goldwater, would launch us into a major war in Viet Nam.

You know the rest of the history. As the old joke went, "They told me if I voted for Goldwater we'd lose thousands of troops in Viet Nam. Well I voted for Goldwater, and, sure enough, we're trapped in a massive Asian land war."

Then Indonesia claimed that they
Were gonna get one any day.
South Africa wants two, that's right:
One for the black and one for the white!
Who's next?
"Who's Next?" by Tom Lehrer from That Was The Year That Was

Against this backdrop Lehrer unleashed his mighty pen and piano. The Environment. Pornography (he was for it). Racism. Religious extremism and bigotry. Politicians and political hypocrisy were at the top of his list.

An unpopular and perhaps unjust war? Lying politicians? An isolated president? Anything sound familiar to you?

Egypt's gonna get one, too,
Just to use on you know who.
So Israel's getting tense,Wants one in self defense.
"The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm,
But just in case, we better get a bomb!
Who's next?
"Who's Next?" by Tom Lehrer from That Was The Year That Was

Hmmmm. Just change the nation from Egypt to Iran and don't we have today's scenario? And, of course, Israel already has the bomb.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And if we're too tired or too busy or too lazy to read the history books, the least we can do is to pick up two or three of Tom Lehrer's CD's and listen.

Luxembourg is next to go
And, who knows, maybe Monaco.
We'll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb!
Who's next, who's next, who's next?
Who's next?
"Who's Next?" by Tom Lehrer from That Was The Year That Was

1 comment:

Vigilante said...

Hmmmm.... I'm too literal to get your meaning. Which (whose) history have you studied to derive which Lesson(s)?