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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

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Atomic Sermon: Billy Hughes and his Rhythm Buckeroos [1953]

This 'sermon' preaches an anti-technology ideology from the first person perspective of a worried bumpkin who, in the tune's refrain, pleads his case against 'scientists.'

The song's narrator reflects the age-old complaint that science and technology moves too fast and goes "too far," but in another verse he seems grateful for what science has provided to mankind in the way of modern medicine. But the real message of the song seems to be that despite occasional positive contributions from science, the one constant in this chaotic world is the Almighty and, as the preacher succinctly puts it, "Instead of us tryin' to get up to Mars/We better get down on our knees!"

Born Everette Ishmael Hughes in Sallisaw, Oklahoma in 1908, Hughes was a prolific songwriter who wrote hundreds of tunes during his long life. Many of his tunes were placed with Hill & Range including the Number One hit for Red Foley, Tennessee Saturday Night (1948-1949). Other singers who recorded Hughes' compositions included Rosalie Allen, Eddy Arnold, Spade Cooley and Tex Williams and Ernest Tubb. Hughes, a fiddler and a singer, found some success in Oklahoma City with 'Pop' Moore's band featuring Johnny Bond. He left Oklahoma City in 1938 for California. He was a popular Western band leader in the Los Angeles area throughout the 1940s and gave a number of important musicians their earliest breaks. He recorded prolifically during this time. He died in 1995.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Atomic Sermon: Billy Hughes and his Rhythm Buckeroos [1953]

Then every Sunday mornin’, and the preacher gave his warnin’
Said you’d better get down and pray
You better listen to me mister, and you listen sister
We’re gettin’ close to that great day
You better listen to the teachin’ of the Good Book I’m preachin’
Said that men would fly like birds
But brother do you hear me, these things scare me
I don’t know how to put it in words

You better stop them scientists from re-searchin’
‘Cause they done gone too far
They got these boys flyin’ faster than sound
And the whole world’s in a war
Man that a-tomic energy sure scares me
‘Cause if it will do what they claim
You better start thinkin’ ‘bout savin’ your soul
Or Sam Johnson ain’t my name!

Just a plain bomb is bad but that A-bomb is worse
And they done named that H-bomb well
Thousand times stronger than that A-bomb is
And it’s gonna blow us all to - kingdom come!
Now I’m not tryin’ to scare you, I’m just statin’ facts
They said they’d build man-made stars
But that’s a job I’m gonna leave to the Lord
‘N I ain’t got no business on Mars

You better stop them scientists from re-searchin’
‘Cause they done gone too far
They got these boys flyin’ faster than sound
They got the whole world in a war
Man that a-tomic energy sure scares me
‘Cause if it will do what they claim
You better start thinkin’ ‘bout savin’ your soul
Or Sam Johnson ain’t my name!

Now I’m thankful for the drugs that kills the bugs,
The mosquitos, and the mice and the fleas
Instead of us tryin’ to get up to Mars
We better get down on our knees!
And thank the good Lord for the world we have
And in closin’ I got this to say
If God intended we should go to Mars
Why’d He put it so far away?

You better stop them scientists from re-searchin’
‘Cause they done gone too far
They got these boys flyin’ faster than sound
They got the whole world in a war
Man that a-tomic energy sure scares me
‘Cause if it will do what they claim
You better start thinkin’ ‘bout savin’ your soul
Or Sam Johnson ain’t my name!
You think I’m kiddin”?
Sam Johnson ain’t my name!

Billy Hughes and his Rhythm Buckeroos [1961]
Atomic Sermon
(Billy Hughes)
Space 1002

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