A Song A Day in May: 80s Nuclear War Anxiety

The Music I listened to and loved in the 80s had an influence on me, it’s undeniable. Along with the books I read, the television shows and movies I watched, the people I met, they all helped shape create the foundation of who I am today. Would I be me today if I hadn’t seen “The Day After” at a young age and had a near-obsession level of paranoia over my skin getting peeled off in a nuclear blast? Who’s to say? Did the artists of the music I listen to and their speaking out on political and social matters shape me? Absolutely.

I stumbled across Stereogum‘s list of 80s songs about nuclear war and it was nostalgia on full volume for me. Their list included songs I may not have realized at the time were as political as they were, but now with adult eyes and 30+ years of hindsight, I am grateful that they are. I hope you enjoy some of them as much as I do.

The Sisters Of Mercy – “Dominion/Mother Russia” (1987)
The foreboding goth sounds of the Sisters Of Mercy made for a perfect pairing with blackened, late Cold War themes. A corroded and roaring epic, “Dominion/Mother Russia” was Andrew Eldritch’s indictment of Cold War politics, with lines like “A white house in a red square” collapsing the two superpowers into a shared villainy. Overall, though, it was driven by a more anti-American sentiment. It eventually charges headlong into an outro inspired by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, with Eldritch intoning “Mother Russia/ Mother Russia/ Mother Russia rain down, down, down.” It became a common image: the idea of radiation spreading through the air and falling down on civilians everywhere.

SOURCE: Stereogum 80s Songs About Nuclear Anxiety

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