Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Songs of the Korean War

Today is the 64th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.

Last night's Royal Asiatic Society lecture, 'That Crazy Asian War,' by Michael Duffy, focused on American music about the Korean War.

A fairly comprehensive list of these songs, which can also be listened to, can be found on the page "Music About the Korean War" at, with at least one other song to be found at Atomic Platters' small page on Korean War music. More information on the music with lots of youtube videos, and at least one 1980s Danish song (!), as well as a Lightning Hopkins song about the war can be found in this post by Jon Dunbar at

One of the more absurd songs I heard last night was "When They Drop The Atomic Bomb" by Jackie Doll and his Pickled Peppers:

 We also heard, Elton Britt's Rotation Blues, which is notable for its Korea references (to 'A-frames' and 'honey pots').

As for songs that I really liked, JB Lenoir's "Korea Blues" has an interesting take on the plight of the soldier overseas (though not a surprising one for a blues song):

I also liked Sonny Osborne's "A Brother in Korea," a bluegrass song (and about the only song from the time of the Korean War which came close to criticizing the war (or war in general)) which can be listened to here. As well, gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "There’s Peace in Korea," released the day of the Armistice, can be listened to here. And who knew that the 'crazy Asian war' referenced in "Ruby, don't take your love to town" (popularized by Kenny Rogers) was the Korean War?

1 comment:

Ben said...

Nice find on the Lightin' Hopkins tune! He's my all time favorite musician.

Also, have you heard "I Bombed Korea" by Cake?