The Tom Lehrer Cure for the Blues

I’ve spent the last week writing – and discarding – posts about poisonous happenings around the planet. Murders in Ohio, accidental carbon monoxide poisonings in Wisconsin (two men, two dogs), the increase in the killing of birds of prey in Britain by toxic means.

But there are times when it’s fun and fascinating to explore the strangeness of life in our chemical world, and there are times when it just seems to add to the ambient darkness. This week – shadowed by worry and grief in Japan – just seemed like the wrong time to deepen the shadows.

But I do have a chemical cure for that problem. I’ve found myself, as a cure for the blues, playing The Elements (song) by Tom Lehrer for friends and family alike. You may wonder, of course, if all my friends and family are as geeky as I am or if that’s just polite laughter ringing in my ears.

To that end, here are a few of my favorite versions (yes, versions) of The Elements found on YouTube. There’s this one:

And this one:

And this one which focuses on phonetic pronunciation (although I can’t make up my mind about the bobbing chemist who rather reminds me of a target in a shooting gallery):

And THIS one of actor Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame reciting the song on a television talk show.

My favorite part of it, of course, is when he tells the audience to shut up. Cheers me up every time. But a writer of poisonous stories can’t stay cheerful too long. Expect me back soon with a cold little tale of murder.

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4 Responses to The Tom Lehrer Cure for the Blues

  1. Ah, a fellow fan of the genius Tom Lehrer! I hadn’t seen the Daniel Radclyffe clip before, and I totally agree with him that Lehrer was the funniest and cleverest man of the 20th century. I adore him. Vatican Rag is my favourite.

  2. Gaythia says:

    All this leaping about merely in search of names of elements that happen to rhyme! Us chemists organized the periodic table, periodically, because the elements told us to do it that way!

  3. jeconnery says:

    Any chance there will be tales of poisoning pigeons in the park?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhuMLpdnOjY

  4. Deborah Blum says:

    Can never have too many Tom Lehrer tributes, I think. Although I do have a really interesting story of a 1930s pigeon poisoner in New YUork City. Maybe I’ll try to combine the two.