masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Recorded songs of the Korean War

Thank God for VictoryNope, there are no recordings of Korean songs directly dealing with the Korean War, so all that is left is a number of songs by cynical or optimistic Americans dealing with the horrors of the War. Swayed by frustration, and perhaps the right dose of commercial insight, Carson Robison wrote “I’m No Communist” in 1952, a song that put the evil imposed by the domestic government on par with the communist evil overseas:

We’re living in a country that’s the finest place of earth,
But some folks don’t appreciate this land that gave them birth.
I hear that up in Washington they’re having an awful fuss,
‘Cause Communists and spies are making monkeys out of us.
The bureaus and departments have been busy night and day,
They’re figuring out just how we gave our secrets all away.
And Congress has appointed a committee so they said,
To find out who’s American and who’s a low-down Red.
They call them up to Washington to speak for Uncle Sam,
But when they ask them what they are, they shut up like a clam.
I wish they’d take and put me on the witness stand today,
I’d yell so loud old Stalin could hear me all the way.
Refrain: I’m no Communist, and I’ll tell you that right now,
I believe a man should own his own house and car and cow.
I like this private ownership, and I want to be left alone,
Let the government run its business and let me run my own.
Our government is bigger than it ever was today,
The more they hire to work for it, the more they have to pay.
Our public servants should be proud and honest you would think,
Instead of taking bribes and dressing up their wives in mink.
The taxes keep on going up of that there is no doubt,
But still they just can’t take it in as fast as they dish it out.
Our national debt is monster size and growin’ every day,
Our children’s children, still unborn are gonna have to pay.
Our dollar used be the soundest money on this earth,
But now two bucks won’t even buy a good old dollar’s worth.
Unless we stop inflation and take care of what we’ve got,
The Communists may win the fight and never fire a shot.
Refrain

You always wonder how many Americans truly felt the threat of communism. If there were any, you’d think it would come mostly from people like Walt Disney who used it to get rid of the artists working for him as soon as they began complaining about him stealing their concepts and drawings. Whether for commercial reasons, out of plain stupidity, or genuine fear, Terry Preston (Ferlin Husky) nonetheless felt that this was a threat better avoided: “Let’s Keep the Communists Out” (1950). And he wasn’t the only one. There were others, such as Red River Dave McEnery, who reworked T. Texas Tyler’s 1948 hit “Deck of Cards” into “The Red Deck of Cards,” a description of Communist attempts at brainwashing, while Eddie Hill’s 1954 “I’ve Changed My Mind” told of a brainwashed American prisoner of war who came to his senses through proper prayer and came home. It reverberated the Louvin Brothers’ earlier 1951 “Weapon of Prayer”, which had the badly riming refrain, “When the planes and tanks and guns have done all that they can do, and the mighty bombs have rained and fell, still the helpful hand above holds a weapon made of love, and against Him none on Earth prevail.” The special conditions of Korea also found ample expression in Country songs of the period. Tubb sang of “A Heartsick Soldier on Heartbreak Ridge” and hit big with Arthur Q. Smith’s beautiful “Missing in Action.” Britt and Bill Monroe each recorded “Rotation Blues,” wAlan Holmesith Britt adding his description of “Korean Mud.” The Louvin Brothers early on in their career sang of their experience of going “From Mother’s Arms to Korea”, while Alan Holmes and Orchestra recorded the simple song (written by Larkin, Simpson and O’Rourke), “(Good-bye Maria) I’m Off to Korea” (King Records 15166). And then there was Jimmie Osborne… His “Thank God for Victory in Korea” is said by some to sing about the armistice reached in 1953 whereas in fact his King 908 shipped out in December 1950, only months after the Korean conflict began. Now that’s positive thinking! The theory is this: on 28 November 1950, General MacArthur told an NBC radio reporter that his “home by Christmas” pledge four days earlier was made “in a jocular vein” and that news people had “greatly exaggerated” the remark. “At no time have I ever attempted to predict the course or termination of this or any other military campaign.” His remarks had nonetheless rung around the press in the US, and King Records had rushed out the song anticipating the end of the war only six months after it started. As we know, of course, it would go on for another 2 and a half years, piling layers of painful dust on this record. Jimmie Osborne had three prior big hits in 1948-50, but this record did not do him much good. His equally patriotic “The Old Family Bible” on the record’s flipside did not help him either. I guess God did not want to be on the B-side, nor on Jimmie’s side: he tragically shot himself in 1958.

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5 Comments»

  Perry Hamburg wrote @

Can you help in my search for a country & Western-type song from the early 1950’s entitled “I’m just a lonely soldier sitting over here in Korea”?
Thanks,
Perry H.

  masterlymasterlee wrote @

Dear Perry,

We will do our best! And if we find it, we will add it to the entry; sounds like a perfect addition! :o)

Best wishes,

Master Lee

  Chuck wrote @

In the film version of M*A*S*H, snippets of pop songs sung in English either by Korean or Japanese artists (or so it sounds) are used. These songs are not included on the movie soundtrack, but I’d like to know what they are and perhaps find copies. Any ideas on this? Thanks, Chuck

  Tom wrote @

How can I get a copy of an old song called “Goodbye MariaUI’m Off to Korea?”

  carol schramm wrote @

looking for words and music to “Good Bye Maria, I’m Off to Korea” Any help greatly appreciated!


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