Written and performed by The Golden Gate Quartet
Now Atom was an honest, hard workin’ man
He wanted to help out the human clan
But Evil got him drunk on prejudice and hate
And she taught him how to gamble with Humanity’s fate.
The Golden Gate Quartet started at the Booker T. Washington College in Norfolk, Virginia—part of the same black college jubilee singing group tradition as the first artist on this mix tape. By the forties they were occasionally putting their swinging gospel in the service of topical themes. This song reflects the gripping concern of its era, that the new technology of atomic energy, intended by its developers for benign purposes, would be put in the service of Evil (newsflash: it would.)
While many would have taken the evil dame in this song to represent the USSR, the Golden Gate singers had previously expressed admiration for that evil empire in their wonderfully weird "Stalin wasn’t stallin’"
So maybe the corrupting influence of “Miss Evil” is just war itself, demonstrated so vividly by President Harry Truman in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed over 100,000 people (mostly civilians) in a single day, and left many more to die slow deaths in an apocalyptic hell.
Yes, our country did that.
In the decades that followed, the horror of nuclear annihilation would spawn a new international anti-war movement, but first those seeking peace would have to contend with Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts, which seem to have put the kibosh on protest songs for another seven years or so. Our mix will resume in 1955.
As for the Golden Gate Quartet, they relocated to France in the fifties, maybe because they were fed up with the insult of segregation. By then, their fun-loving gospel style was being adopted to great success by a white boy named Elvis Presley. So true!