A newly-topical song by Tom Lehrer. It was first topical when it was recorded in 1965, as China had conducted a test of a nuclear bomb and the Cuban Missile Crisis was still a nightmarish recent memory. Nuclear proliferation has been in the news on and off ever since; and Mr. Lehrer's take on the subject is again fresh. It was announced today that North Korea have exploded a nuclear bomb.
Lehrer deploys his usual wheeze of contrasting a grim and serious subject with a jaunty tune. Each verse begins in a higher key signature than the previous one, contributing an air of escalating tension. The verse about Egypt and Israel breaks the pattern somewhat, by having sections in superficial stereotypes of their national folk music styles. The lyrics follow, with Lehrer's own words of introduction.
One of the big news items of the past year concerned the fact that China, which we called "Red China," exploded a nuclear bomb, which we called a device. Then Indonesia announced that it was going to have one soon, and 'proliferation' became the word of the day. Here's a song about that:
First we got the bomb, and that was good
'Cause we love peace and motherhood.
Then Russia got the bomb, but that's okay
'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way.
France got the bomb, but don't you grieve
'Cause they're on our side, I believe.
China got the bomb, but have no fears
They can't wipe us out for at least five years.
Then Indonesia claimed that they
Were gonna get one any day.
South Africa wants two, that's right-
One for the black and one for the white.
Egypt's gonna get one too
Just to use on you-know-who.
So Israel's getting tense,
Wants one in self defense.
"The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm-
But just in case, we better get a bomb.
Luxembourg is next to go
And, who knows, maybe Monaco.
We'll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb.
Who's next, who's next, who's next?
© Tom Lehrer; First appeared on That Was the Year That Was (1965). CST Approved
. Lyrics appear with Lehrer's written permission.