Tom Lehrer, A Christmas Carol

One very familiar type of song is the Christmas carol. Although it is perhaps a bit out of season at this time. However, I'm informed by my "disk jockey" friends - of whom I have none, that in order to get a song popular by Christmas time, you have to start plugging it well in advance. So here goes. It has always seemed to me, after all, that Christmas, with its spirit of giving, offers us all a wonderful opportunity each year to reflect on what we all most sincerely and deeply believe in. I refer of course, to money. And yet none of the Christmas carols that you hear on the radio or in the street, even attempt to capture the true spirit of Christmas as we celebrate it in the United States. That is to say the commercial spirit. So I should like to offer the following Christmas carol for next year, as being perhaps a bit more appropriate.

Christmas time is here, by golly,                           by golly = by god
Disapproval would be folly,                                  folly: Dummheit cf. foolish/fool
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,                        hunk: dickes Stück holly: Stechpalme
Fill the cup and don't say "when."                         say "when": sag’ halt (wenn’s genug ist/reicht)
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,                    turkey: Truthahn
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,                   to drag: ziehen, zerren
Even though the prospect sickens,                        the prospect: (allein schon) beim Gedanken (daran)
Brother, here we go again.                                   to sicken: krank machen cf. sickening

On Christmas Day you can't get sore,                   sore: traurig , verärgert, "sauer"
Your fellow man you must adore,                         fellow man: Mitmensch, der Nächste
There's time to rob him all the more                      to adore: bewundern, verehren
The other three hundred and sixty-four.                 to rob: ausrauben, berauben

Relations, sparing no expense'll                             relation: Verwandter […expense’ll send = … will send]
Send some useless old utensil,                               to spare no expense: keine Unkosten scheuen
Or a matching pen and pencil.                               to match: passen matching: passend
"Just the thing I need! How nice!"
It doesn't matter how sincere it                             sincere: echt, aufrichtig
Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit,                               heart-felt: von Herzen kommend
Sentiment will not endear it,                                  to endear: beliebt machen      endearing: gewinnend
What's important is the price.

Hark the Herald Tribune sings,                               hark: horch! Herald Tribune: American newspaper
Advertising wondrous things.                                  wondrous: wunderbar, wundersam
God rest ye merry, merchants,                               ye = you
May you make the Yuletide pay.                           Yuletide = Christmas
Angels we have heard on high                               on high: in der Höhe cf. "in excelsis"
Tell us to go out and buy!

So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,                        raucous: rauh, heiser sleigh = sledge: Schlitten
Hail our dear old friend Kris Kringle,                      hail!: heil!, sei gegrüßt! Kris Kringle: "Christkindl"
Driving his reindeer across the sky.                         reindeer (plural: reindeer): Rentier, Rentiere
Don't stand underneath when they fly by.

Actually I did rather well myself, this last Christmas. The nicest present I received was a gift certificate "good at any hospital for a lobotomy". Rather thoughtful.

                                               Tom Lehrer (1959!), from his record "AN EVENING (wasted) WITH TOM LEHRER":
                                                                                     X sound: A Christmas Carol(Tom Lehrer).mp3

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