The Vatican Rag

by Matthew Cobb

The byzantine shenanigans in the Vatican are going to occupy the media over the next few weeks, and in UK we have the spectacle  of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, notorious for his homophobic positions, having to admit to ‘sexual misconduct’ following allegations from priests. What better way to blow away all this medieval superstitious flummery than Tom Lehrer’s Vatican Rag?

Now, didn’t that cheer you up?

h/t @beckyfh for reminding me.

PS You can find some new words, written by guest blogger Sigmund, by following the links on this post from 2011.

32 Comments

  1. Marella
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes it did. :-)

    • gbjames
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      +1

  2. Posted March 4, 2013 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I woke up to Tom Lehrer on the radio this morning. “The Elements” — not satirical at all, but still very cheering! (And educational!)

    Poisoning Pigeons In the Park” remains my favourite, however.

    /@

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

      “Poisoning Pigeons In the Park” remains my favourite, however.

      It’s “At your command
      Before you here I stand,
      My heart is in my hand. ecch! ”
      for me. “The Masochism Tango
      Which may explain why I’ve managed to stand almost 50 minutes of “Miami Magma” (previously known as “Swamp Volcano”). I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The mental equivalent of FDPP.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      “Send the Marines” is good, and remains timely.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:01 am | Permalink

      My favourite was always his ‘Irish Ballad’ a.k.a. Rickety tickety tin

      “One morning in a fit of pique
      A-rickety tickety tin
      One morning in a fit of pique,
      She drowned her father in the creek.
      The water tasted bad for a week,
      And we had to make do with gin, with gin,
      We had to make do with gin.”

      Oddly, I found that in the course of a long walk, not having heard it or thought about it for 30 years, something reminded me of it and it all gradually came back to me.

      • gbjames
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:23 am | Permalink

        How infinitely improbable!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

          What, that it all came back to me? I won’t say it was 100% accurate but I ‘got’ all but two of the verses (which I later looked up). I think it helps that each verse is quite repetitive and has one simple concept – and it rhymes.

          And on a long walk in the country (like, five or six hours) there isn’t a lot to distract you so you can let the song run in the back of your mind without getting annoying. And the repetition helps coax more details from your memory.

          I expect someone’s done a study on this sort of thing.

          Or were you just having a crack at my ‘nym ;)

          • gbjames
            Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

            Great craic, as they say in Ireland. ;)

  3. BilBy
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    The whole Keith O’Brien thing. It makes me sad. Just think – the self-hate, the unhappiness, the hypocritical stance he had to take. I hold no brief for the Catholic Church, I am an atheist. But I can’t help feeling just a little bit sorry for him. Sorrier for the people he condemned to hell of course, but…

    • WiseApe
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      It must have been awful for him. Decades spent projecting a false image to the world; denying self doubt; the outright lying; his sexual shenanigans can’t have helped either!

  4. Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    This song is my favourite of all his work. Lehrer is considered as the forerunner of Tim Minchin–if YouTube was around then, his stuff would have went viral.

    • RFW
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      In the manner of the day, Lehrer did go viral: via record sales.

      Maybe it’s listening to Tom Lehrer as a kid that warped my mind and rendered me incapable of everyday decency?

      Incidentally, for those who are Lehrer fans, pretty well every one of his recordings made it to commercial CD release. I suspect that they’re also all available for download.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted March 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Lehrer also had a regular TV gig on the American version of That Was The Week That Was, a satirical news and commentary show that was the Daily Show of its era.

      • Posted March 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        A friend of mine who went to college in Norway in the 1950s told me that there were copies of Lehrer’s records in his dorm back then and everyone had listened to them. They were a huge underground hit. I think nearly every Boy Scout in the country knew his Boy Scout Marching Song. And all this happened without the Internet.

  5. chascpeterson
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:25 am | Permalink

      Don’t say that near an altar boy.

  6. Sean
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    At times like these, Hitch says it all…”Next time you hear some particularly moralizing speech, set your watch. You won’t have to wait long before the man who made it is found, crouched awkwardly yet ecstatically while the cistern drips and the roar of the flush maddens.”

  7. @eightyc
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    lol.

    I wonder what the Vegas line is on who’s going to be the next dude with the magic hat.

  8. magster2
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    “PS You can find some new words, written by guest blogger Sigmund, by following the links on this post from 2011.”

    Guest BLOGGER?!!?!?!?!

    • magster2
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Oops, just realized the OP was Matthew Cobb, not Jerry. I was half-expecting airborne swine, ice-encrusted nether regions, and announcements of Jerry joining the Westboro Baptist Church, endorsing group selection, going vegan, and buying a dog. All is explained!

      • Posted March 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        …and wearing grey suede shoes.

        • magster2
          Posted March 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          I intended the “going vegan” part to cover both the boots AND the food porn.

  9. Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    That’s funny; I just pulled out a Tom Lehrer CD last night, hoping to hear that song, only to discover it’s not on the disc I have.
    Thanks for making my day!

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    As the link to the “Inter-Faith Rag” in the older post is broke (it goes to the main front page of the blog), here’s an update.

    http://sneerreview.blogspot.com/2011/10/inter-faith-rag.html

  11. jesse
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Some time ago I ran across this possibly-fictional bit of writing that was quite believable and entertaining to read — written by a fellow who ostensibly was a student in Professor Lehrer’s last math class. Some of your readers might enjoy reading it.
    I have no way of knowing if it’s true or not, esp. since the website on which it appears has some tall tales as well. But it is an entertaining story and evokes some interesting human feelings that are indicative of good story-telling, so is enjoyable in its own right.
    http://www.buckswoodside.com/stories/tomlehrer.shtml

  12. arizonajones
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Go to http://www.grooveshark.com/danbarker for Dan’s
    rendition of “The Vatican Rag”.

    • arizonajones
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      One can also go to grooveshark.com and search
      “Dan Barker”, or Google: grooveshark.com/danbarker

  13. Cliff Melick
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always liked “We Will All Go Together When We Go.”

    <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frAEmhqdLFs”;Tom Lehrer video.

    • Cliff Melick
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Nuts! Forgot my closing .

  14. Posted March 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I prefer Fred Wedlock’s arrangement myself – but then it was the first version I heard, so I guess the older arrangement was bound to sound a bit pale by comparison. Wedlock’s “The Vicar and the Frog” is well worth a listen too, in the current context… ;-)


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