Track This: Sun Ra's "Nuclear War"

"If you're not mad at the world, you don't have what it takes. The world lacks for warriors. You have to prepare yourself accordingly." - Sun Ra

Sun Ra's 1982 song "Nuclear War" is an epic seven minute meditation on the state of violence in our world. I first heard Yo La Tengo's first version on WFMU's Beware of the Blog. It was an interesting choice for the New Jersey trio, even with their penchant for strange covers, in a particularly languid arrangement, but Sun Ra's original blew me away once I tracked it down and let it simmer for awhile. Sun Ra's bold anti-nuclear war sentiment coupled with swearing and funkiness that would do Funkadelic justice make this one of the strangest pleas for peace.

The track adds to the Sun Ra legend because apparently he thought it could be a successful single. In an Allmusic review of the Nuclear War album, Al Campbell writes that Sun Ra was" so sure the funky dance track was a hit, he immediately took it to Columbia Records, where they immediately rejected it." Whether this is apocryphal or not, the song's swear words, slow beat, and length do not qualify it as an ideal choice for a single. The album was not officially released in America until 2001 when Atavistic released it as part of their "Unheard Music" series.

Track This is a recurring feature of Snobbin' that turns the music appreciation dial up and rips it off of your stereo. It introduces a new track, allows readers to rediscover an underappreciated one, and serves as a forum to discuss a song that falls into the ear candy category and should be listened to unabashedly for years to come.


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