Friday Five: Atomic Bombs

Juli Thanki | January 11th, 2013

Dozens of classic country, bluegrass, and rock ‘n’ roll songs reference atomic bombs, including “Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb,” “There’s a Power Greater Than Atomic,” Hawkshaw Hawkins’ “When They Found the Atomic Power,” Chris Cerf’s “Fallout Filly,” and, of course, Wanda Jackson’s “Fujiyama Mama,” to name just a few. Here are five more.

5. Red Foley – “Atomic Power”

The Buchanan Brothers recorded this Fred Kirby-penned song first, but I’m partial to Foley’s version.

 

4. Hank King with Bud Williams & His Smilin’ Buddies – “Your Atom Bomb Heart”

Hank, Bud, and their Smilin’ Buddies can wipe the grin off any face with these harsh lyrics: “You possess all the words of old Satan himself/The men that you ruined are like sand on a shelf/They fall in your love trap that’s so cold and dark/From your devil-filled kisses and your atom bomb heart.” 

 

3. Johnny Paycheck – “The Cave”

A cave protects a young man from the widespread destruction of an atomic bomb. The song ends before he breaks his glasses, forever preventing him from reading his beloved books.

 

2. Sons of the Pioneers – “Old Man Atom”

“When Einstein’s scared, brother, you better be scared.” That seems reasonable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrGSlcfJ-Tc

 

1. Louvin Brothers – “Great Atomic Power”

Lots of folks have covered this classic, including Raul Malo, Elizabeth Cook (backed by The Grascals), and Uncle Tupelo, but Charlie and Ira’s version is still the best.

  1. Barry Mazor
    January 11, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Good one; OK, I’ll play. See, from rootsy neighborhoods, “Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb” from the Soul Stirrers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi5q3Gq6UhI
    ..and “Tennessee” from Mr. Carl Perkins, for its excellent understanding of our state’s central contributions:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2u94Feswfw

  2. Dave D.
    January 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Not worthy of the Top 5, but Robbie Fulks’ Jean Arthur cites “atom bombs”.

  3. Michael M.
    January 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I remember reading about the myriad country songs about atomic bombs in “By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age” by Paul Boyer. If memory serves me right, Boyer notes that the threat of nuclear war fit in perfectly with country music’s recurring theme of man-made disaster, and the dread of an apocalypse explains the many references to religious salvation contained in these songs.

  4. Rick
    January 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Finally a topic I can really get into! (lol) “Great Atomic Power” is one of my favorite songs and I have multiple versions. It’s just a shame Elizabeth Cook didn’t record another version for “Gospel Plow”. Oh well…

    Considering what Iran has been up to lately, this topic is far more relevant today than it has been since the Cold War of the 1950’s. That is so not a good thing!

  5. Jon
    January 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    “Myriad” is something of an overstatement, I think.

  6. luckyoldsun
    January 11, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I read that (or maybe it was the Cliff Notes).
    I was brought to tears when Achilles killed Hector.

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