(Roughly) Daily

“It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it”*…

The Cold War was a pretty gloomy period, what with nuclear holocaust hanging over everyone’s heads.  But as CONELRAD: Atomic Platters points out, the purveyors of pop culture did their best to find purpose (even pleasure) in the panic…

Every art form had to deal with the arrival of the atomic age in one manner or another. Some artists were reserved and intellectual in their approach, others less so. The world of popular music, for one, got an especially crazy kick out of the Bomb. Country, blues, jazz, gospel, rock and roll, rockabilly, Calypso, novelty and even polka musicians embraced atomic energy with wild-eyed, and some might argue, inappropriate enthusiasm. These musicians churned out a variety of truly memorable tunes featuring some of the most bizarre lyrics of the 20th century. If it weren’t for Dr. Oppenheimer’s creation, for example, would we have ever heard lines like “Nuclear baby, don’t fission out on me!” or “Radioactive mama, we’ll reach critical mass tonight!”?

Consider, for example…

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Jesus Is God’s Atomic Bomb: Swan’s Silvertone Singers [1950]


Purcel Perkins, the otherwise unknown composer of Jesus Is God’s Atomic Bomb, takes the atomic divinity metaphor that is prevalent in some other Bomb songs to the next level (or one might even say, the highest level) and in so doing provides this box set with one of its most memorable titles. For a person of faith, and clearly this song was originally intended for a gospel audience, the metaphor is certainly an apt one…

Have you heard about the blast in Japan
How it killed so many people and scorched the land
Oh, yes
Oh, it can kill your natural body
But the Lord can kill your soul
That’s why I know Jesus
Oh, Jesus is God’s–I declare–atomic bomb
Oh, yes

Jesus is God’s atomic bomb
Proudest papa that ever was
Jesus is God’s, His atomic bomb
Shook the grave, causing death to rise
Yes, God shook the grave, child
Put old death on a rock
Through trials and tribulation
Lord when it was done
That’s why I know Jesus
Yes, is my God, His atomic bomb

Or this patriotic ditty…

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Mr. Khruschev: Bo Diddley [1962]


The genre of Cold War music could be considered complete without this track featuring Bo Diddley weighing in with a number performed with his trademark beat. This song, sung in the cadence of a drill instructor, pledges solidarity with President Kennedy and serves as a musical warning to the Soviet Premier…

(Hut 2, 3, 4, hut 2, 3, 4, hut 2, 3, 4, hut, 2, 3, 4)

I think I want to go to the army (Hut 2, 3, 4)
I think I want to go overseas(Hut 2, 3, 4)
I want to see Khrushchev (Hut 2, 3, 4)
I want to see him all by myself (Hut 2, 3, 4)

Refrain: Hey, Khrushchev (Hey, Khrushchev)
Hey, Khrushchev (Hey, Khrushchev)
Hey, Khrushchev (Hey, Khrushchev)
Hey, Khrushchev (Hey, Khrushchev)

He don’t believe that water’s wet
If he did he could’ve stopped those tests (Hut 2, 3, 4)
JFK can’t do it by his self (Hut 2, 3, 4)
C’mon fellas, let’s give him a little help (Hut 2, 3, 4)

Refrain
We as Americans to understand (Hut 2, 3, 4)
We got to unite and protect our land
We got to keep us on alert (Hut 2, 3, 4)
To keep our families from getting hurt

Refrain

We fightin’ over a six-wheel bus
My bald-headed crew just parked on up

Refrain

Hut, 2, 3, 4, yeah! (Drill chatter) Get in line there! Lord have mercy! Get inline and walk right! Your mom can’t help you now! Ain’t nothing like home!…

Dozens more at CONELRAD: Atomic Platters.

[TotH to EWW and Ploughshares]

* Response to Dick Clark during one of American Bandstand‘s “Rate-a-Record” segments

***

As we check the use-by dates on the canned food in our fall-out shelters (appropriately enough on Proust’s birthday), we might recall that it was on this date in 1948 that Miss P. Bedrosova, an instructor at the Leningrad Trade Institute, argued in Izvestia that “foreign” names for Soviet pastries– e.g., “melba,” “parfaits,” “eclair”… and “madeleine”– should be banned.  The French, German, Italian and English names under which Soviet sweets were being sold were introduced in pre-revolutionary Russia, together with the recipes and machinery for making them.  Now that the Russians are able to run the machines and make the recipes themselves, she argued, the foreign names should be discarded.

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Written by LW

July 10, 2012 at 1:01 am

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