St. Paul, Minn. -- There haven't been any A-bomb musical blockbusters over the years, but there have been some pop songs dealing with the dropping of the bomb.
Were they serious songs decrying the death and destruction or questioning the morality of the decision to drop it?
Uh . . . not quite.
"They were mostly just tasteless," says St. Paul disc jockey Pete Lee, who has compiled a survey of wide-ranging songs with A-bomb connections.
"There's a rock 'n' roll sensibility here, a kind of proud ignorance about the bomb in most of these songs. The bomb is somebody else's problem," says Mr. Lee, a collector of offbeat records.
"Only the religious songs come to grips with the bomb's power and impact," he says, "and even they don't talk about the need for world peace but instead, about getting right with God before man destroys himself."
A record collector since kindergarten, Mr. Lee, 42, often puts together "Bop Street" shows with historical themes.
Pulling material from his extensive collection, he recently programmed a 40-minute segment of "atom" songs in observance of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Here are some of the songs he uncovered and his commentary:
* "Fujiyama Mama," first recorded in 1955 by Annisteen Allen but a bigger hit for Wanda Jackson in 1960. Here's a sample verse: "I been to Nagasaki, Hiroshima, too; And what I did to them, babe, I can do to you. Cuz I'm a Fujiyama Mama, and when I start eruptin,' I really want to blow my top."
Mr. Lee: "How's that for tastelessness? Unbelievably, it was a hit in Japan in the 1970s."
* "Thirteen Women," Bill Haley & His Comets, 1956. "Bill's dream about the 'up' side of nuclear war," says Mr. Lee. In the aftermath of the bomb, there's only one man and 13 women left.
Though "clean," according to Mr. Lee, the song does find the women waiting hand-and-foot on the surviving male.
* "Tennessee," Carl Perkins, 1956. "Carl brags about his home state's music and nuclear history," notes Mr. Lee. "He brags about the first atomic bomb being made in Oak Ridge, Tenn."
* "Great Atomic Power," the Louvin Brothers, 1951. The singing brothers Charles and Ira also wrote this country and gospel style song.
Says Mr. Lee: "It talks about being ready, being saved, before the atomic holocaust hits."
* "Atom and Evil," Golden Gate Quartet, 1945. Mr. Lee: "An incredible African-American gospel group sings about all the good uses of the atom until it gets seduced by evil. It has a lot of parallels with the Adam and Eve story."
* "Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb," the Pilgrim Travelers, circa 1951. The song talks about God's promise to Noah that the next time the world is destroyed it will be by fire, Mr. Lee says.
"The atomic bomb could fulfill that prophecy; nuclear war could be like the second coming of Christ."
* "Atomic Cocktail," Slim Gaillard, 1945. "This is typical Gaillard surrealism," says Mr. Lee, "as he describes the atomic bomb as a drink. The song says, 'A drink that you don't pour; just one sip and you don't need any more.' "
Mr. Gaillard, a hipster vocalist, guitarist and pianist, played with jazz greats Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
* "Bikini," Dexter Gordon, 1947. An instrumental-only tune written and played by the great jazz tenor saxophonist and named after the Bikini Atoll, the Pacific site of atomic tests.
* "Uranium Rock," Warren Smith, 1956. "That's about a guy with a rock 'n' roll Geiger counter who's prospecting for uranium," says Mr. Lee. A sample: "Money, money, honey, the kind you fold; money, money, honey, rock 'n' roll; rake it in, bale it up like hay; have a rockin' good time and throw it all away."
Mr. Lee knows his song collection isn't complete. "There's 'A-Bomb Bop' by Michael Fern . . . but I don't have a copy. I know there are songs I'm not remembering and others out there I don't even know about."
Bob Protzman wrote this article for Knight-Ridder News Service.