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When The Atom Bomb Fell: Karl & Harty [1946]

When The Atom Bomb Fell, a hymn-like country track, is significant for being one of the earliest atomic songs as it was recorded on December 4, 1945. However, this tune with its references to "cruel Japs" and how the Bomb was "the answer to our fighting boys' prayers," has more to do with World War II patriotism than it does with the gestating Cold War. Therefore, this song could be considered a musical bridge between the two eras.

The record's lyrics imagining the Japanese reaction to the Bomb as one of religious awe ("They must have thought it was their judgment day ") are interesting because it is both an effort to humanize the enemy and reinforce the theme of the Bomb as being somehow divine.

By the way, the Bomb/God metaphor would achieve its pop cultural apogee in the ridiculous 1970 film 'Beneath The Planet Of The Apes' in which post-atomic mutants worship an un-exploded super Bomb…by singing to it.

Karl Victor Davis and Connecticut 'Harty' Taylor were both born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky in 1905. In 1929, Doc Hopkins enlisted Davis and Taylor for the Krazy Kats, a stringband that featured folk songs and pop tunes in their repertoire. Following a year with WHAS in Louisville, Davis and Taylor moved to WLS in Chicago where they became part of the Cumberland Ridge Runners on the 'National Barn Dance' radio show. Davis and Taylor were originally known as the Renfro Valley Boys and they recorded under that name for Paramount in 1932. It was because of their radio work that they became known as Karl & Harty. In 1934 the team began recording for the American Record Corporation labels. I'm Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail was their first hit. Later hits were The Prisoner's Dream and Davis's song Kentucky which was covered by The Everly Brothers and The Osborne Brothers and others.

In 1937 Karl & Harty joined WJJD's Suppertime Frolic in Chicago and then returned to WLS in 1947. In 1951 the duo split up amicably and Davis continued to write songs including the 1967 top ten hit for Hank Locklin, The Country Hall Of Fame. Karl & Harty, whose specialty was sacred and sentimental songs, influenced many country artists from their era including The Monroe Brothers and The Blue Sky Boys.

Harty Taylor died in 1963 and Karl Davis died in 1979.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
When The Atom Bomb Fell: Karl & Harty [1946]

Refrain: Oh it went up so loud it divided up the clouds
And the houses did vanish away
And a great a ball of light filled the Japanese with fright
They must have thought it was their judgment day

Smoke and fire it did flow through the land of Tokyo
There was brimstone and dust everywhere
When it all cleared away there the cruel Japs did lay
The answer to our fighting boys' prayers
Yes, Lord, the answer to our fighting boys' prayers

There was no atheist in a foxhole
And men who never prayed before
Lifted tired and bloodshot eyes to heaven
And begged the Lord to end that awful war

They told Him of their homes and loved ones
They told Him that they'd like to be there
I believe the bomb that struck Hiroshima
Was the answer to our fighting boys' prayers

Refrain

Smoke and fire it did flow through the land of Tokyo
There was brimstone and dust everywhere
When it all cleared away there the cruel Japs did lay
The answer to our fighting boys' prayers
Yes, Lord, the answer to our fighting boys' prayers

Karl & Harty [1946]
When The Atom Bomb Fell
(Davis-Taylor)
Columbia 36 982-4

CATEGORY: SONGS: ATOMIC[ 1 | COMMENTS | May 10, 06 | 4:09 am ]

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