Up and Atom! It’s the Music of the Atomic Age, and…

You’re on the Sound Beat.

“Well I’m gonna preach you all a sermon

About old man Atom

And I don’t mean the Adam

From the Bible datum…

Lyricist Vern Partlow summed up the fears associated with the Cold War pretty succinctly:

“…the thing that Einstein said he’s scared of

And when Einstein’s scared, brother, I’m scared.

Partlow was a writer for the Los Angeles Daily News, assigned to interview scientists about the bomb. He’d become increasingly alarmed (remember the Einstein line?) and thought the issue was ripe for a folk song.

“So the lesson is this and it’s plain as day

That Old Man Atom is here to stay.

He’s gonna stick around it’s clear to see

But aw, my dearly beloved: are we?

So listen folks, here is my thesis:

Peace in the world, or the world…in…pieces.”

You’re listening to Sam Hinton who recorded the tune for ABC Eagle in 1950. Bing Crosby was slated to record the song for Decca that same year…until the joint committee Against Communism opposed the song’s lyrics, which members claimed supported communist ideals. And they didn’t just stop Bing…Both Columbia and RCA would eventually pull the record from distribution.

Sound Beat is produced at the Belfer Audio Archive, Syracuse University Libraries.