Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Potter County Was Made by the Hand of God But the Devil Made Three Mile Island is a mouthful of a title. The song, recorded by Pennsy Dutch hillbilly musician and radio personality Al Shade in 1979, is the feature piece in an entertaining posting a couple days ago on the Bona Fide Records blog out of Red Lion, PA.

For the 30th anniversary (or thereabouts) of the TMI incident, Bona Fide CEO Rick Noll runs through the novelty vinyl records published locally in the wake of it.

"Well, just in case you weren't around back then, here in Central PA we were terrified that we'd be swallowed by a huge cloud of radioactive gas as soon as the reactor blew," writes Rick. "Well, that never happened, but a huge cloud of gas did erupt from the populace by way of several ambitious attempts to tell the story in a musical format."

Chief among these was Al Shade's single, the best part of which was the sleeve art showing a tractor with a robot arm, presumably driven by a Mexican or 'Rican with his head poking out the smokestack, pouring a bottle of irradiated milk into the Susquehanna River, also off limits.

"Using all the tricks in his book (except for yodeling and the Pennsylvania Dutch ABC's) Al crowbars his two favorite topics, Jesus and Potter County, into a tuneless ditty," writes Noll, who then goes into its lyrical content, or lack of it, here.

"[Al Shade] wrote and recorded a song called 'Three Mile Island' that was aired on the network newscast hosted by David Brinkley in 1979," claims one Internet biography listing his most popular songs. These included Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Jesus Cares, and My Potter County Mountain Home -- delivering the subjects Shade sang of so frequently: Potter County, places he loved, the Lord and himself. Hey, write what you know, it's said.

However, apparently it's Gary Punch & the Outriders who deliver the best tune, Goodbye TMI, apparently "[delivering] a knockout blow in the tradition of topical songs like Blowin' In the Wind and Eve Of Destruction."

The article even makes spirited use of baseball-capped Pennsyltucky heevahava man!


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