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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

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Fujiyama Mama: Wanda Jackson [1957]

This blistering, take-no-prisoners rockabilly tune is one of Wanda Jackson's best loved recordings and a song that hits the unprepared listener like a concussive device. Jackson told country music expert Rich Kienzle that she first became aware of the incendiary tune when she heard R&B artist Annisteen Allen's 1954 version playing on a juke box when she was still in school in 1955. Jackson recalled for Kienzle that she "just flipped over it."

Earl Burrows' lyrics demonstrate that the bombings in Japan a decade earlier were still viewed as being an impressive display of American might without any consideration given to the moral implications of the wholesale destruction unleashed on the enemy. The atomic bombings serve here as metaphoric back-up to the Fujiyama Mama's unpredictability, sexual voraciousness and potential for violence.

Ironically, the song was a major hit in Japan and Jackson was treated like a dignitary when she toured there briefly in 1959.

Female rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson was born to Tom and Nellie Jackson in Maud, Oklahoma in 1937. Tom Jackson had been a fiddle player with local bands in his youth and taught his daughter a few chords on the guitar he bought for her in 1943. With family encouragement Wanda also learned how to play piano at an early age.

In high school in Oklahoma City, Jackson entered a talent contest at radio station KLPR and she proved to be so popular, management gave the young performer her own show. Country artist Hank Thompson heard Jackson and in 1954 helped get her a deal at Decca. During this early period Jackson recorded seven singles including a duet with a Thompson band member, Billy Gray, entitled You Can't Have My Love.

A&R man Ken Nelson signed Jackson to her second label, Capitol, in 1956 and it was around this time that Jackson decided, with the encouragement of Elvis Presley, to embrace rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. In between long stretches of touring Jackson recorded her classic LP 'Let's Have A Party' featuring support from a mixed race rock 'n' roll band, The Poe-Kats. Jackson spent much of 1959 at home pondering her next career steps.

In 1960 as a result of popular local reaction to a Des Moines, Iowa DJ playing the title track off Jackson's 'Party' LP, Capitol released the song as a single and it went to number 38 on the charts. Jackson seized the momentum of this success and recorded a follow-up album entitled 'There's A Party Goin' On' featuring a new band with guitarist Roy Clark. Later in the year Jackson was playing dates in Las Vegas where she would frequently return over the rest of her career. In 1961 Jackson scored two top 30 country hits with Right Or Wrong and In The Middle Of A Heartache both of which she wrote.

Jackson married in 1961 and eventually had two children. She remained a fixture in the world of country music for the remainder of the 1960s and into the 1970s releasing a number of LPs including 'Reckless Love Affair' (1967) and 'Please Help Me I'm Falling' (1968). In the 1970s Jackson became sober and a born again Christian and began focusing on gospel recording with such LPs as 'Praise The Lord' and 'We'll Sing In The Sunshine' (both 1972). Jackson, however, did not turn her back on country or rockabilly and still performs and records in all her guises for a devoted legion of fans.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Fujiyama Mama: Wanda Jackson [1957]

I've been to Nagasaki, Hiroshima too!
The things I did to them baby, I can do to you!

Refrain: 'Cause I'm a Fujiyama Mama
And I'm just about to blow my top!
Fujiyama-yama, Fujiyama!
And when I start erupting,
Ain't nobody gonna make me stop!

I drink a quart of sake, smoke dynamite!
I chase it with tobbacy and then shoot out the lights!

Refrain

Well you can talk about me, say that I'm mean!
I'll blow your head off baby with nitroglycerine!

Refrain

Well you can say I'm crazy, so deaf and dumb!
But I can cause destruction just like the atom bomb!

Refrain

I drink a quart of sake, smoke dynamite!
I chase it with tobbacy and then shoot out the lights!

Refrain

Wanda Jackson [1957]
Fujiyama Mama
(Earl Burrows)
Capitol F 3843

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