It’s that time of year – time for the annual ACW contest for best lyrical stanzas relating to the Bomb. There are two categories for this competition, as before: (1) A lyric about the Bomb that has been written and performed and, (2) your own adaptation of a lyric that has been written and performed. The usual prizes will be awarded in each category — copies of long-remaindered and long-forgotten books I have written or edited.

This is your chance, dear readers, to demonstrate the extent and depth of your play lists, not to mention your creative and poetic side. Entries from readers who have shied away from posting on ACW are especially welcome.

To help inspire entries, dwell on Randy Newman’s classic lyric from “Political Science,” a song that that has been nominated repeatedly:

No one likes us
I don’t know why.
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try.
But all around, even our old friends put us down.
Let’s drop the big one
And see what happens.

If this doesn’t get your juices flowing, here’s my offering for this holiday season – an adaptation of Neil Young’s monumental “Rockin’ in the Free World.” To those who have not committed these lyrics to memory, here’s one stanza and the refrain:

We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder, gentler
Machine gun hand
We got department stores
and toilet paper
Got styrofoam boxes
for the ozone layer
Got a man of the people,
Says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn
Got roads to drive

Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world

I don’t mean to put ol’ Neil down, or to give offense, but here’s my adaptation:

We got five thousand nukes
for emergencies
We got a kinder, gentler
sense of urgency
Payin’ more for less
Like free agency
Got B-mods and stretch outs
for the laboratories
Gettin’ stiffed by Putin
No help in the lead
With no way to test
Slot machines to feed

Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world

Yes, it’s weak. I am counting on you, music-loving readers, to do better. Any lyric, any musical genre is in play. As before, the panel of judges will be me; The Polymath, Josh Pollack; The Total Package, Josh Krepon; and guest judge Tom Nichols.

I’ll post entries as they come in. We’ll decide on the winners after the holidays. May they be filled with happiness and good health for you and your families — and no use of chemical weapons.