This song title is taken from a deprecating expression widely used in the late 1930s:, “Confidentially, You Stink!” . It was written as an opening number for one of the American Student Union’s annual shows, Pens and Pencils as a satire aimed at the inhabitants of the so-called “ivory towers.”  The reference to “Russell” concerns an incident at City College in the late 1930s when the British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, had hs invitation to teach at City College withdrawn by the Board of Higher Education because they felt that his advocacy of “free love” would currupt the minds of the students;  The interlude between “Confidentially, We Think” and “Pens and Pencils” will be recognized as having been purloined from “Ameriq Ain’t America Any More” and shows that in those days, we had no regard for private property. 

Confidentially, We Think and Pens and Pencils
Lyrics by Henry Foner
Music by Joe Wrubel


Now please don’t be amazed by what you see before you.
You’ve never been as bored before as we can bore you.
We’re the cream of our nation’s cultural crop –
We’re so overripe with knowledge, we’re ready to drop. 
We’re the almost-finished products of the process academical.
We know every line of Caesar, every square root and each chemical.
Though we’ve scanned every line on history’s page,
We don’t know what’s happening in our day and age. 


When a war that’s grim and bloody seems to interrupt our study,
We just pass it by with a wink.
Though our looks are so superior,
Don’t be fooled by our exterior –
Confidentially, we think. 
When the Dies or Rapp Committee
Comes a-riiding through the city,
Calling everyone a “red” or just a “pink.”
When their agents come a-peeping,
On our feet they’ll find us sleeping –
Confidentially, we think. 

When a judge or budget-cutter
Says our minds are in the gutter,
You can almost hear our brains begin to rustle [Russell].
But  our first hot burst of passion’ll
Succumb to theories rational –
It’s simply a matter of mind over muscle. 
Won’t someone at this meeting
Pay attention to our pleading?
We’re slow buy surely going on the blink.
Oh, they really ought to cage us –
Our disease is quite contagious.
Confidenrially  -- providentially –
Existentially – confidentially we think. 


You gentleman who are overdeveloped in your uppermost extremities –
We’ve gathered tonight to hear your plight and to offer the proper remedies –
You wanted to hear a solution – a cure for what’s making you blue.
You asked for it, so you got it –
We present the A. S. U. 

Pens and Pencils

Pens and pencils –
Off to school.
Its the latest golden rule.
War clouds hummin’ everywhere,
But the Yanks will not be comin’
Over there.& 
Get together –
Clear the way –
Let the chips fall where they may.
We’ve got life and pep ‘n’
We have got a mighty weapon –
We’ve got Pens and Pencils –|
We’ve got Pens and Pencils. 

* This was written during the so-called “phoney” war when the official position of the American Student Union was against intervewntion