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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

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Civil Defense March (Heads Up America): Sammy Cahn & Paul Weston [1957]

Believe it or not, civil defense had an official theme song and this is it. A key question remains as to whether it was comforting to the public that their government cared enough to retain the services of such top talent as Sammy Cahn and Paul Weston to write and record it? Probably not, because this seldom heard tune didn't exactly set the 'Billboard' charts on fire. The instrumental version, however, was used for many years on the public service civil defense radio program 'Stars For Defense.' So far, the Department of Homeland Security has refrained from spending tax dollars on a theme song, but after they hear this catchy number, they may jump on the bandwagon.

Legendary American lyricist Sammy Cahn was born Samuel Cohen to Jewish immigrant parents in New York in 1913. His first work as a songwriter was to develop specialty material for dance bands. In 1937 he and his partner, Saul Chaplin adapted a Yiddish theater song, Bei mir bist du schön into a hit for The Andrews Sisters. With Chaplin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Nicholas Brodszky and Jule Styne, Cahn wrote numerous songs for Hollywood and for Frank Sinatra. Cahn also won several Oscars for his composing and many nominations. His autobiography, 'I Should Care' was published in 1974. Cahn died in 1993.

Paul Weston was born in Springfield, Massachussetts in 1912 and was raised in Pittsfield. In 1933 he graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in economics. His hobby at college was leading a dance band called The Green Serenaders for whom he also did the arrangements. While at graduate school at Columbia University, Weston sold some arrangements to The Joe Haymes' Orchestra which came to the attention of Rudy Vallee. Shortly thereafter Weston was well on his way to becoming a full time arranger for Tommy Dorsey and later a conductor and arranger for Bob Crosby and Doris Day. In 1952 Weston married singer Jo Stafford whose career he had helped guide to stardom. The couple also collaborated on four classic parody albums featuring Stafford's comical alter ego, 'Darlene.' On the albums, 'Darlene' would butcher current hits with a country twang and all the wrong notes. Weston had a long career in music for motion pictures and television before leaving to pursue other interests. Later in his career, he was the president of Hanover Music Corporation and Corinthian Records. He died in 1996.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Civil Defense March (Heads Up America): Sammy Cahn & Paul Weston [1957]

Heads up America
Let's stand, be brave, keep our defenses high,
Heads up America
A land that is prepared can never die!

Every woman and every man
Must be part of the CD plan
But be ready with every eye up to the sky
Heads up America
For America must never, never die!

Freedom is everybody's business
Everybody must take his stand
Freedom is everybody's business
So let Civil Defense be everyone's concern!

Let every family work together
And together our might we'll show
In defense of our land, united we stand
Ready for any foe!

Heads up America
Let's stand, be brave, with our defenses high,
Heads up America
A land that is prepared can never die!

Every woman and every man
Must be part of the CD plan
Must be ready to meet whatever they may try
Heads up America
And America will never never die!
Heads up America!

Sammy Cahn & Paul Weston [1957]
Civil Defense March (Heads Up America)
(Sammy Cahn-Paul Weston)

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