AUTHORWolfe, Charles
TITLENuclear Country: The Atomic Bomb in Country Music
PERIODICAL TITLEThe Journal of Country Music

This article explores how country music incorporates new technology, focusing specifically on references to atomic power in country music in the United States from 1946 to 1952. Considering the context of country music as atomic energy first entered the American lexicon, the author examines the ways in which atomic references played a part in particular popular songs as well as examining the circumstances that made the songs popular. Fred Kirby’s landmark atomic-themed country song “Atomic Power” (1946) created the general structure and supplied the motifs that future songs would follow. Early songs generally used atomic power as a metaphor for the power of God. The author suggests that songwriters invoked religion because the largely rural population of country music listeners had no other superlative that would suffice. With the intensification of the Cold War and the start of the Korean War, songs defined the atomic bomb in political rather than religious terms. Over time, as the author describes, it became “just another conventional image” (19). The article contains footnotes, select song lyrics, and black and white photographs.

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