|Birth name||Thomas Zachariah Glazer|
September 2, 1914|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||February 21, 2003
Rochester, New York, United States
|Labels||Young People's Records (1940s), Kapp Records (1960s)|
|Associated acts||Dottie Evans|
Thomas Zachariah "Tom" Glazer (September 2, 1914 – February 21, 2003) was an American folk singer and songwriter known primarily as a composer of ballads, including: "Because All Men Are Brothers", recorded by The Weavers and Peter, Paul and Mary, "Talking Inflation Blues", recorded by Bob Dylan, and "A Dollar Ain't A Dollar Anymore". He wrote the lyrics to the songs "Melody of Love" (1954), and "Skokian" (1954).
Thomas Zachariah Glazer was born in Philadelphia on 2 September 1914 to Russian émigré parents from Minsk. His father, a carpenter in a shipyard, died during the 1918 flu epidemic, and Glazer was brought up by a series of relatives before being placed in the Hebrew Orphan Home in Philadelphia with his two brothers; his younger brother Sidney Glazier became a producer, most notably of Mel Brooks' The Producers. Their father's record collection influenced Glazer musically, and at school he learned to play the tuba, guitar and bass. At 17, he hitchhiked to New York where he took night courses to complete his education while working at Macy's during the day. He subsequently attended City College of New York for three years.
Glazer moved to Washington D.C. and began work at the Library of Congress. There he met Alan Lomax who worked for cataloguing American folk songs, and who was a great influence. Glazer began performing as an amateur and was invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to perform at the White House for soldiers working there as guards. He made a successful professional début at the New York City Town Hall in January 1943 during a blizzard, and in 1945 had a radio show Tom Glazer's Ballad Box. His songs of the period, such as "A Dollar Ain't a Dollar Anymore", "Our Fight is Yours", "When the Country is Broke", and "Talking Inflation Blues" took strong social stands. Glazer's songs were recorded by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Perry Como and Frank Sinatra. He was part of the strong folk music scene in New York in the 1940s, and with Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Josh White helped prepare for the commercially successful folk revival of the 1960s. "He wasn't fancy," Seeger reported after his death "He was just straightforward. He had a good sense of humor."
Glazer recorded a number of children's records in the late 1940s and early 1950s with Young People's Records, Inc. These included When I Grow Up, The Chugging Freight Engine, and Come to the Fair. In the 1960s he hosted a weekly children's show on WQXR radio in New York.
Glazer wrote the musical score for Elia Kazan film A Face in the Crowd (1957). Glazer also wrote and sang the title song in the 1966 movie Namu, the Killer Whale starring Robert Lansing and Lee Meriwether.
Glazer, with Dottie Evans, recorded three children's records in 1959 and 1960 that were part of a six-album set known as Ballads for the Age of Science. They contained songs intended to explain science concepts for young children, all of which were written by Hy Zaret (lyrics) and Lou Singer (music). One of these albums, Space Songs, included the song "Why Does the Sun Shine?" which was later covered by They Might Be Giants.
His greatest commercial success came with his original 1963 recording of the song parody "On Top of Spaghetti" based on the tune of On Top of Old Smoky, which he recorded for Kapp Records with the Do-Re-Mi Children's Chorus. The song was later included on an LP that also included such numbers as one of the first cover versions of Puff the Magic Dragon, as well as Battle Hymn of the Children and other children's songs.
Glazer was to become ambivalent towards his creation. He was to fantasize that "I'm standing in line before the Pearly Gates in the musicians' line, in which I stand last. When I'm asked what have I done in music and I say I wrote "On Top of Spaghetti", I'm told, "Sorry, buster, you can't enter." In 2008, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released Tom Glazer Sings Honk-Hiss-Tweet-GGGGGGGGGG and Other Children's Favorites, a collection of Glazer's live performances.
Glazer died at his home in Rochester on February 21, 2003 at the age of 88.
- Wadey, Paul (February 27, 2003). "Tom Glazer - Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
- Martin, Douglas (February 26, 2003). "Tom Glazer, Folk Singer, Is Dead at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
- Vallance, Tom (December 19, 2002). "Sidney Glazer - Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
- "Argosy Music Corp.". Retrieved 8 March 2014.