Hiroshima

Ten thousand children played in the playground
Swinging on the swings, didn’t hear the sound
Of the single plane that flew overhead
The third shift workers were just going to bed
There was a flash of light and a rumbling noise
And gone in an instant — parents, girls and boys

Ten thousand mothers were boiling rice
A thousand POW’s were rolling dice
Hoping they’d survive this terrible storm
When each young man in his uniform
Vanished in the air in the blink of an eye
One moment they lived, the next they all die
Hiroshima, Hiroshima

Ten thousand chickens were sitting on eggs
Heads in their wings, resting their legs
Ten thousand farmers were looking at their fields
Planning the harvest, guessing at yields
Dreaming of life after the war
The next second they weren’t living no more
Hiroshima, Hiroshima

Ten thousand lovers made lover to each other
Each one of them thinking they might not get another
Living so long with death everywhere
Much more than one person alone can bear
But there wasn’t time for a final kiss
Who could’ve known it would end like this
Hiroshima, Hiroshima

A hundred thousand people were living their lives
Grandparents, children, fathers and wives
Now they’re just shadows on the street
In such a quick burst of incredible heat
Now listen to them talk about doing it again
From whence came the souls of these terrible men
Hiroshima, Hiroshima

“Hiroshima” originally appeared on the 2003 CD, The Return. The sheet music for this song appears in my Songbook Vol I (1997-2004).

The bombing of Hiroshima was the most horrific act humans have ever done to other humans in such a short period of time. (An instant. And many lifetimes.) Surpassed only, perhaps, with the bombing of Nagasaki. By which time the military and political leadership of the US was well aware of the genocidally devastating impact of the first nuclear bomb. And then they did it again.

When I first wrote this song, I sent the lyrics to Pete Seeger, because I thought he’d like it. I didn’t send him the music because it wasn’t on a CD yet, and I also knew that he didn’t have much time for listening to music that people send him. He wrote me back right away, saying nice things about the lyric. He also sketched some sheet music that he had come up with to go with the lyrics. But I had already written the music, and didn’t mess around with his sheet music, which I have since lost… Almost co-wrote a song with Pete Seeger, but not quite…

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