Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette

Moving Hearts
Language: English

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Testo e musica di Jim Page
Lyrics and music by Jim Page

Jimmy Page interviewed by Robert Allen

"Way back in the mid 70's we had a governor here in Washington state named Dixie Lee Ray. She had been chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission under Nixon and was full of herself. She loved nuclear power and hated environmentalists, and she invited everyone to send their waste here to Washington to be dumped at the Hanford site. She was famous for her superiority complex and would ask for your credentials if you challenged her on anything. Well, the Hanford site leaked and every once in a while it would hit the papers and the environmentalists would get on her case. One time after a particularly embarrassing incident she made the announcement that she was going to close Hanford until this could be taken care of. It was a startling proclamation. The next day on the local news there was a doctor from the University Of Washington cancer hospital saying that they would have to stop treating people because they now had no way to deal with the low-level isotopes that they used. Everybody's sick mother was held hostage and the response was instantaneous. Hanford was immediately reopened.

I was having a heated discussion about this with a friend of mine when it occurred to me that if you get exposed to too much radiation you would likely get cancer and that they would then treat you with radiation. And that all these power plants, unstable and poorly built as they are, were accidents waiting to happen. It was like playing Russian Roulette, that strange game where a gun is passed around with only one bullet in it and everybody puts it up to their head, bets are taken, and the lucky winner loses. Only this was a nuclear version. This was Hiroshima-Nagasaki Russian Roulette. I wrote the song that night (in 1974).

Several years later, in 1979, I was in Ireland at the Ballisodare Festival. I had learned that there was a strong anti-nuclear movement in the country mobilized to try to stop a power plant and uranium mining. I figured that if I could get an encore I would then play Hiroshima and it would get heard. It worked. Christy Moore was there and he asked for the lyrics so he could sing it. And I was invited down to the Carnsore Point Anti-Nuclear Festival that next weekend.

Soon Christy put together an electric band called The Moving Hearts, and they took the country by storm. Their first big song was Hiroshima, which they had adopted for their seven piece rock/folk/jazz sound. It was recorded on their first album which entered the charts at number one. It remained a signature song in their repertoire for the duration of Christy's involvement with the band, and after leaving he continued to use it in his solo shows. It has since become almost a part of Irish folk culture, like another drop of water in a big river. And the success of the anti-nuclear campaign gives the whole story its depth, a demention of struggle and music. Maybe a song can be a weapon after all.

Then I found out that there was a big anti-nuclear movement in Ireland and that there was, in fact, a major gathering planned for the following week. So I figured if I could get an encore in my second set, the next day, I would play Hiroshima-Nagasaki Russian Roulette. It worked. On my way up to the stage I got a little nip of whiskey to calm my nerves and settled into things. I don't remember what my last song was but I got my encore and did the Hiroshima song. The place went wild and I was brought out for another song. I was invited to the anti-nuclear gathering coming up at Carnsore point (, and changed my return ticket so I could go to it. The door had opened.

My first national tour was opening for Planxty, a wonderful four-piece folk band with Christy Moore, Donal Luny, Andy Irvine and Liam O'Flynn. It wasn't until the second show that I had sense enough to get nervous. Planxty were like the Rolling Stones of Irish music. The gigs were great - high energy and always wild. We wound up doing an incredible unrehearsed version of Hiroshima at the end, and they had me playing guitar on some reels.

Hiroshima had this amazing pipe and sax duet in the middle of it that made it an instant classic. I practically stopped playing the song after hearing it. Landlord was severely re-arranged but I got used to it - it was like a halloween piece instead of the blues thing I had made. The folk process.

I remember sitting in the Baggot Inn one night when they were playing. They played there two nights a week for ages. The place was jammed like always. I was talking with a traditional singer friend of mine. "How do you like the band,?" I asked her. "I don't like them," she said, "politics and music don't mix." I didn't say anything, just nodded. The place was packed every time they played there. Their album was released at number one. Politics and music seemed to be mixing very well."

La canzone fu scritta da Jim Page nei primi anni 70.
Il testo pubblicato su Broadside # 134, 1977
Nel disco dal vivo “In The Act”del 1980
Poi nella raccolta “The Best of Broadside 1962-1988: Anthems of the American Underground from the Pages of Broadside Magazine” realizzata dalla Smithsonian Folkways Recordings nel 2000.

In The Act
The Best of Broadside 1962-1988

(Bernart Bartleby)
They dropped the bomb in '45 to end the world war
No one had ever seen such a terrible sight before
The world looked on with eyes wide to see where it might lead
The politics of power pass around the seed
It was a time to remember, we never can forget
They were playin' Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian roulette

They arose like the saviors of the modern human race
With radiation halos that hung about their face
With the key to the sure cure and the treatment of our ills
A hot shot of cobalt and a pocket full of pills
Speaking always of the enemy who lurked across the sea
While they crept in among us like a carrier disease

Deep down inside the bunkers of the concrete and the lead
Einstein's disciples work steadily ahead
Making heavy metal power plants to fire the city lights
All you can hear in the underground is the humming through the night
The walls of tight security circle all around
Where they spill out their poison and they bury it in the ground

Hole up in the harbours hidden secretly away
Warheads and submarines wait to make their play
The military masterminds improve on their designs
The soldiers get doped up and stumble through the lines
The spills into the river get carried out by the tide
They call this security but we're not satisfied

Our statesmen and leaders with their politicians pay
Quick to heed the hand that feeds, they're careful what they say
They call out experts to assure us, to wave their magic wands
This is the power of the future and the future marches on
And they call in all theirs favours, all their political gains
While the spills fill the rivers and settle in the plains

They've caused the death of millions, that's their stock and trade
They will be afflicted by the fallout that they've made
They've sealed their own inevitable doom and it must surely come
Not even the moons of Jupiter will be far enough way to run
When the earth that they've assaulted begins to turn around
And the unavoidable gravity sucks them to the ground

I know the minds behind them, they are fiddled full of holes
Not to be trusted with their hands at the controls
Their eyesight it is twisted by the glory of their careers
The heaped praise of flattery is music to their ears
To listen to them talk about how it hasn't happened yet
Is like playin' Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian roulette.

Contributed by Riccardo Venturi - 2005/8/6 - 12:52

Language: Italian

Versione italiana di Riccardo Venturi
6 agosto 2005

Hanno lanciato la bomba nel ’45 per finire la guerra mondiale
nessuno aveva mai visto prima qualcosa di tanto tremendo
il mondo guardava a occhi spalancati per vedere a cosa
portasse la politica del potere che aveva passato ogni limite
era tempo di ricordare, non potremo mai dimenticare,
stavano giocando alla roulette russa con Hiroshima e Nagasaki

Si ersero a salvatori della razza umana attuale
con aloni radiattivi sospesi attorno ai loro visi
con il rimedio sicuro per tutte le nostre malattie
un colpo caldo di cobalto e la tasca piena di pillole
parlando sempre del nemico che spiava per il mare
mentre s’infilavano in mezzo a noi come un contagio

Giù dentro ai bunker in cemento armato e piombo
i discepoli di Einstein continuano sempre a lavorare
facendo accendere l’illuminazione cittadina da centrali nucleari
e tutto quel che si sente da sottoterra è un ronzio nella notte
muraglie di sicurezza impenetrabili le circondano
mentre gocciolano veleno seppellendolo nel terreno

In qualche buco nei porti, segretamente nascoste alla vista,
testate nucleari e sommergibili aspettano di giocare
gli strateghi militari continuano a migliorare i piani
i soldati sono drogati e inciampano nelle linee
le perdite nel fiume vengono portate dalla marea
loro la chiamano sicurezza ma noi non siamo soddisfatti

I nostri governanti, i leaders e i loro politicanti pagano alla svelta
e hanno cura di chi li nutre, stanno attenti a quello che dicono
chiamano esperti per rassicurarci, per agitare le bacchette magiche:
"questa è l’energia del futuro, e il futuro va avanti"
e quelli ricambiano loro i favori, tutti i guadagni politici
mentre le perdite riempiono i fiumi e invadono le pianure

Hanno causato la morte di milioni, questo è il loro commercio
saranno colpiti dal fall-out che loro stessi hanno fabbricato
hanno firmato la nostra inevitabile condanna, verrà di certo,
neanche le lune di Giove saranno tanto lontane per fuggirvi
quando la terra che hanno aggredito comincerà a girare in tondo
e l’inevitabile gravità li risucchierà a terra

Conosco le menti che ci stanno, sono tutte piene di buchi
ma non sono collegate alle mani quando ci sono i controlli
la loro vista è annebbiata dalla gloria della carriera
accumulare lodi e adulazione è musica per i loro orecchi
e ascoltarli parlare di come ancora non è accaduto
è come giocare alla roulette russa con Hiroshima e Nagasaki.

2005/8/6 - 16:48

manca una parola nel primo verso:

"they dropped the bomb in '45 to end the world WAR"

e manca anche nella traduzione:

"hanno lanciato la bomba nel '45 per finire la guerra mondiale"
(Carlo Bertoni)

grazie, abbiamo corretto!

2010/8/24 - 17:29

2016/9/24 - 11:19

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