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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

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Excellent Chances: Groucho Marx [1953]

The secret word is atomic. Groucho Marx, a certifiable comic genius and cultural icon, was an ill-suited choice to impart deadly serious civil defense information, but if it was name recognition that the government wanted, they got it. One can only imagine how odd it was for the casual Cold War listener in 1953 to turn on their car radio and hear the lead Marx Brother say in his familiar cadence, “Did you know…that your chances of surviving an atom attack are excellent?” Even today the listener half-expects Chico Marx to chime with some rejoinder about there being no “Sanity Clause.”
LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Excellent Chances: Groucho Marx [1953]

This is Groucho Marx. A few days ago I was talking with the Director of Civil Defense and he told me some things that I feel everyone should know. That's why I'm speaking to you now. Did you know, for example, that your chances of surviving an atom bomb attack are excellent? It's true, but there's a big if! You must do everything possible now, to help yourself and your family. Nobody else will help you! Listen, because this is important! Keep a complete first aid kit handy. Keep a closed container of drinking water in your refrigerator, enough for 3 days. Be sure you have a good fire extinguisher. Take a look around your house right now and pick out the safest spot, away from windows and doors. Make sure every member of your family understands he is to rush to that safe spot when there's danger. I'm convinced that these precautions are necessary right now, and I hope I can convince you. They're important to your family, yourself, and your community.


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