This Saturday marks the sixty-sixth anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima, the first use of atomic weapons in history. In Hiroshima, the five-ton uranium bomb Little Boy’s huge fireball and explosion killed 70,000 to 80,000 people instantly. Another 70,000 were seriously injured.
As Joseph Siracusa, author of Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction, writes: “In one terrible moment, 60 percent of Hiroshima…dwas destroyed. The blast temperature was estimated to reach over a million degrees Celsius, which ignited the surrounding air, forming a fireball some 840 feet in diameter.” The Hiroshima bombing was followed up three days later by an equally devastating blast on the Japanese city of Nagaski.
To mark the anniversary, I’ve assembled a top ten list of songs about nuclear war. There’s a surprisingly long list of choices, nearly all calling, in various ways, for a cessation of nuclear hostility and an abolition of nuclear weapons. Happily for music fans, the fear of this worst of all apocalypses has provided serious creative juice for songwriters and musicians of all genres. Please use the comments field to let me know what I missed.
1. Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall
2. Peter Tosh, We Don’t Want No Nuclear War
3. The Byrds, I Come and Stand at Every Door
4. Nena, 99 Luftballons
5. Yo La Tengo, Nuclear War
6. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Wooden Ships
7. Lowell Blanchard and the Valley Trio, Jesus Hits Like the Atomic Bomb
8. Kate Bush, Breathing
9. New Politics, Nuclear War
10. Iron Maiden, Two Minutes to Midnight