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Your Atom Bomb Heart: Hank King with Bud Williams and his Smiling Buddies [1955]

This song modernizes a popular theme in country music, the cautionary tale about a female heartbreaker. Indeed, the woman who possesses the "atom bomb heart" of the title has "just one ambition" and that is "to conquer men of the town." In other words, she isn't just the horse-and-buggy harlot of yore—she's atomic. In an interview, the composer Howard Vokes stated he seized on the idea of incorporating the atom into this tried and true tale as a way of doing something new with the theme, or as he put it, "approaching something in a different way for a love song." He certainly succeeded.

Hank King was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania in 1932 and learned how to play guitar at an early age while at the same time falling in love with country music. His performing caught the interest of Rusty Herman of The Missouri Mountaineers and King started working several nights a week with Herman on WKPA in New Kensington. It was King's exposure on the radio that led him to meet Howard Vokes who became his manager and wrote and co-wrote some of his songs, including the one heard on this set. Vokes succeeded in getting his new client signed to Blue Ribbon, an Illinois label through which Your Atom Bomb Heart was released. The backing band on this track was a Pittsburgh country act called Bud Williams And His Smiling Buddies that Vokes recruited for the recording session. On the strength of the 78 release of Heart, King was next signed to Blue Hen, an independent Harrington, Delaware label where Your Atom Bomb Heart was re-issued under the shortened title of Atom Bomb Heart.

King's popularity grew and he became a regular performer on WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia. He also appeared as a guest on Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree and on The Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. King was also part of The Early Bird Jamboree on WAVL in Apollo, Pennsylvania. It was after King released his next Blue Hen single, Cry Like A Baby, and its flipside, Believe In Me, that an illness in his family and other issues forced him to abandon his music career for many years. During this time, according to Vokes, King worked in a glass factory in Arnold, Pennsylvania and became active in church events. He would also perform occasionally at special events. Recently, however, King has been recording again (including a album tribute to one of his favorite performers, Hawkshaw Hawkins) and performing in a show promoted by his old manager, Howard Vokes.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Your Atom Bomb Heart: Hank King with Bud Williams and his Smiling Buddies [1955]

An atom bomb heart, you’re carrying around
With just one ambition to conquer men of the town
The ones that you fooled all carry the mark
From the dangerous love lies in your atom heart

You possess all the words of old Satan himself
And the men that you ruined are like sand on a shelf
They fall in your love trap that’s so cold and dark
From your devil filled kisses and your atom bomb heart

An atom bomb heart, you’re carrying around
With just one ambition to conquer men of the town
The good Lord won’t let you blow lives all apart
With that dangerous beating of your atom bomb heart

You possess all the words of old Satan himself
And someday from this sinnin’ you’ll be crying for help
A great chain reaction is soon due to start
That will lead to destruction of your atom bomb heart

Hank King with Bud Williams and his Smiling Buddies [1955]
Your Atom Bomb Heart
(Howard Vokes-Hank King; Arranged by Chaw Mank)
Blue Ribbon 1925

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