Tom Lehrer
Track 12: The elements 
 

Tom Lehrer is an American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 60s.  His work often parodied popular song forms, such as in "The Elements", where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the "Major-General's Song" from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance.

Lehrer's earlier work normally dealt with non-topical subject matter and was noted for its black humor, seen in songs such as "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park." In the 1960s, he produced a number of songs dealing with social and political issues of the day, particularly when he wrote for the U.S. version of the TV show That Was The Week That Was.

When asked about his reasons for abandoning his musical career, he cited a simple lack of interest, distaste for touring, and boredom with performing the same songs repeatedly. He observed that when he was moved to write and perform songs, he did, and when he wasn't, he didn't, and after a while he simply lost interest. It has frequently been observed that, though many of Lehrer's songs satirized the Cold War political establishment of the era, he stopped writing and performing just as the 1960s counterculture movement gained momentum.

Lehrer's musical career was brief; in an interview in the late 1990s, he pointed out that he had performed a mere 109 shows and written 37 songs over 20 years. Nevertheless, he developed a significant cult following both in the U.S. and abroad and many of his songs are considered classics of their genre.

“The Elements” was featured in the season five episode of NCIS titled "Ex-File".  It closes out NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack – Vol. 2 and was suggested for inclusion by members of the ncismusic.com community.

 
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