History

You Hit Me Baby Like An Atomic Bomb

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Find of the day: a website devoted to music about the bomb. From the site's self-description:

The button-down mind of Curtis LeMay.
Bruce Conner

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!"?…

CONELRAD is primarily interested in presenting the "first generation" of songs that were written during this period—works that are less familiar to the public than the songs produced during the folk revival/folk-rock period of the sixties and after. The earlier songs are less self-conscious, more naive (in some cases to the point of downright wackiness) and therefore more intriguing. Needless to say, another reason why many of these songs were selected is—put simply—they swing! Pondering the cultural climate that encouraged songs like 1957's profoundly strange yet catchy Atom Bomb Baby is a lot more rewarding than, say, examining the obvious metaphors from a pre-electric Dylan protest song like "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall." And Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction is a memorable "important" song, but isn't the lesser known answer song by The Spokesmen, Dawn of Correction, a lot more interesting?

Indeed it is. I don't say this lightly: "Dawn of Correction" may be the most earnest song ever written. A sample from the lyrics:

You missed all the good in your evaluation
What about the things that deserve commendation?
Where there once was no cure, there's vaccination
Where there once was a desert, there's vegetation
Self-government's replacing colonization
What about the Peace Corps organization?
Don't forget the work of the United Nations

Hear it sung with a rasp that rivals Tom Waits':

I wish the site had more downloadable audio files—more often we just get a song description and some lyrics. Then again, the curators have a product to sell: a mammoth, far too expensive, yet still very tempting box set.

[Hat tip: David Rice.]