They built the shelter to protect them from radiation in case of a nuclear war.
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
This song came to life during a much longer period than intended. In October 2019, I participated in the Helsinki memory workshop of the Re-Connect/Re-Collect project. I came there straight off the boat from a German tour with my band. One of the memories that came to mind was our family’s visit to our family doctor who proudly showed us his new fallout shelter and the mixture of excitement and fear I felt. They built the shelter to protect them from radiation in case of a nuclear war. I decided that as a professor of electrical engineering, I couldn’t make much of an academic contribution to the project, but as a songwriter and singer I could try to contribute a song or songs based on my memories. I knew soon that a ”talking blues” was going to be the form of this song. The pandemic, however, and the corresponding isolation and hibernation of the music scene killed my creativity which period lasted a long time. But finally, not long ago, inspiration returned just for long enough to write this song. After talking to my brother and sister about it, I found that he remembers certain details differently than I do, but after all, it was 59 years ago! I thought this is anyway a song, so a little bit of artistic license is allowed. For example, I remember playing croquet, but I cannot tell if the fallout shelter was really exactly where the croquet field was. But I hope the mixed feelings come across anyway.
Listen to and download the song at https://ldonohkami.bandcamp.com/releases
TALKIN’ FALLOUT SHELTER BLUES
Music traditional, lyrics Donald Lupo
n nineteen hundred and sixty-two
Marion was where we lived and grew
5000 people, most necks red
Roadsides lined by tobacco sheds
Tobacco………..cotton…………deep Dixiecrat South….
Daddy was a Methodist preacher, you see
Smart young man with a masters degree
And one of his friends, just a couple of blocks
Was a church member and our family doc
Money……… education ….but right wing as he could be
We’d go and hang out with their sons
And play outdoors and have some fun
But most of all what we wanted to see
Was whatever was on that color TV
Round edges……… green faces ……… but it was color!
We were drinking lemonade and watching a show
When the doc said, come on everybody, let’s go
Head on out to the back yard now
I got something there gonna make you say “wow!”
Back yard eh…………..hmm………….you sure this is better than The Flintstones?
Well we went out back saw a concrete shed
Where there used to be a croquet bed
Not very big, about 7 feet tall
A shorter door in one of the walls
Strange looking thing………. What’s it for?……….. is it better than croquet?
Well he opened the door and said “come in”
We went down some steps and into a “den”
“It’s a fallout shelter” he said with pride
When the Rooskies bomb us, this is where we hide
Commies………….Rooskies……….the buzz words that made us all go pale
Well the room was dim and the walls were bare
But 10 beds were spread around there
Two months’ worth of food and drink
A diesel generator, a toilet and a sink
Pretty basic………..and dark………but oughta be safe
Well I didn’t know, should I be scared
Or just impressed while I stood and stared
“If newkewlar war comes, we won’t whine
We’ll stay right here then come out fine”
Come out fine eh? After nuclear war….. what are we gonna come out to?!