A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall (declassified)

Juli Kearns Art-Paintings, Hanford Declassified 2 Comments

I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, declassified
A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, declassified
2006
20 w by 24 in h
Digital Painting with photo collage elements by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project.

Lightbox enlargement

A girl performs on the accordion at a talent show at the Hanford Theater in 1944. I don’t know why, but this image proved to be particularly moving, perhaps because of my having been trained musically as a child in Richland (and after), and my life-long association with music through my producer/keyboardist husband. While working on it, I listening to Bob Dylan’s classic, “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall”, because, though Dylan says the song is not about rain from atomic fallout, the lyrics are appropriate enough–as they are appropriate for all warfare–and spoke to a future horizon that was being projected by Hanford those few years before Nagasaki. Not that war before Fat Man and Little Boy was any less horrific.

But Fat Man and Little Boy were undeniable game changers.

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

– Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music


And now a 1964 live performance of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall”.

The image upon which the painting is based:

Talent Shown Girl Playing Accordion
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0024918”
Accession Number N1D0024918
Document Number D-5428-NEG
Alternate Document Number D-5428-NEG
Title Description GIRL PLAYING ACCORDIAN
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project paintings

Comments 2

  1. Thanks. I’d been looking at the pic for months wondering exactly how I was going to approach it.

    I know she was probably playing a polka, but I kept imagining the girl playing “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall”. With the pictures circa WWII, working on them you know that the families and children (and most workers) had no idea the bomb was being built at Hanford.

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