Sunday, October 05, 2008

Who cares where they come down?

The satiric songwriter and performer Tom Lehrer, who also taught mathematics at Harvard, was a big draw and my friends and I went to his concerts at Carnegie Hall or Town Hall. He wrote very funny songs satirizing the politically dangerous and socially strangled times we were living in, banging them out on a grand piano, singing at full volume with a deadpan delivery. One song exposed the dubious ethics of Wernher von Braun, who first developed rockets for the Nazis and later for the United States:

Don't say that he's hypocritical,
Say rather that he's apolitical.
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
"That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun
Taken from Suze Rotolo's recently published memoir of Greenwich Village in the sixties 'A Freewheelin' Time'. In the top photo the apolitical von Braun is seen on the right in a dark suit with senior Nazis staff at the height of hostilities in May 1943 at the German rocket laboratory at Peenemünde. In the lower photo the rocket man has come down on the other side and is seen showing President John F. Kennedy around NASA's Marshal Space Flight Center twenty years later. Recognise the rocket?


I was going to cue the first twelve-tone protest song. But much better is Tom Lehrer himself singing of Wernher von Braun.



It wasn't just one way traffic. Remember that Hitler's court composer was a Harvard alumni. But if the politics are all too much why not tune in to Neil Armstrong's moon music?
Suze Rotolo is the lady with Dylan on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

Daithí said...

Might interest you: http://www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk/viewshowdetail.php?id=385