Not much is known about Jackie Doll or any of his not-so-famed Pickled Peppers. How does that happen? Kid walks into Chicago’s Mercury Records in 1951, lays down 6 sides and is gone. A no hit wonder lost in the windy city. We do know that he was 21 when he put this particular song down and we could take a guess at his politics, but he could also just be an opportunist latching onto a populist idea.
Songs about the bomb are varied, some are metaphors, some warnings. When They Drop the Atomic Bomb though is a straight forward, banging on the front door, boot in your ass kind of song. It’s unapologetic in the belief that we should continue to use the bomb and unlike many of the other literal minded atomic songs this one doesn’t evoke Jesus or heaven, but leans on the old soldier Gen. Douglas MacArthur as its hero. It makes the assertion that our boys died in Korea because of our failure to drop the bomb on the communists, and the administration is implicitly spineless in their inaction. MacArthur stands at the ready though to make things right in what can almost be viewed as a pro military dictatorship boogie.
There’ll be fire, dust and metal flying all around
And the radioactivity will burn them to the ground
If there’s any Commies left they’ll be all on the run
If General MacArthur drops an atomic bomb
Jackie has this wonderfully expressively tenor, that bends easily with a clear hillbilly lilt. The Pickled Peppers aren’t slouches either and lay down a solid shuffle behind him. Each get their moment to shine with a one bar solo and this jangly two-step is light-years away from the lyrics at first listen. The more I hear it though, the more I think they’re tightly connected. This song is the rant of a blustery drunk in a bar out opinionizing everyone around him. He’s a good ol’ boy who’s never seen a communist or a war, but subscribes to Guts magazine and dreams of heroism in the worst possible way. I don’t know if Jackie was that guy or was making fun of that guy, but I bet the steel guitar player with his spaced out shimmies knew what he was there to do and can almost see his grin.