ARTIST: Tom Lehrer
TITLE: The Professor's Song

[To the tune of "If You Give Me Your Attention" from "Princess Ida" by Gilbert and Sullivan]

If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am
I'm a brilliant math'matician - also something of a ham
I have tried for numerous degrees, in fact I've one of each
Of course that makes me eminently qualified to teach
I understand the subject matter thoroughly, it's true
And I can't see why it isn't all as obvious to you
Each lecture is a masterpiece, meticulously planned
Yet everybody tells me that I'm hard to understand
And I can't think why

My diagrams are models of true art, you must agree
And my handwriting is famous for its legibility
Take a word like "minimum," to choose a random word
     [This was performed at a blackboard, and the professor wrote:
For anyone to say he cannot read that, is absurd
The anecdotes I tell get more amusing every year
Though frankly, what they go to prove
Is sometimes less than clear
And all my explanations are quite lucid, I am sure
Yet everybody tells me that my lectures are obscure
And I can't think why

Consider, for example, just the force of gravity
It's inversely proportional to something - let me see -
It's r^3 - no, r^2 - no, it's just r, I'll bet -
The sign in front is plus - or is it minus, I forget -
Well, anyway, there is a force, of that there is no doubt
All these formulas are trivial if you only think them out
Yet students tell me, "I have memorized the whole year through
Ev'rything you've told us, but the problems I can't do"
And I can't think why

Click here to submit corrections.

How to read these chord charts

Go back to the Table of Contents

Go back to the Index

Go back to my main page