Deborah Henson-Conant

Telling stories with music at

(This blog post was originally posted on May 3, 2017 and then updated – Sept. 22, 2017) 

North Korea. Nuclear war. It’s easy to forget the intensely personal side of the immensity of nuclear war. It hit me in the 80’s and I wrote a whole musical about it. This is the song that started my journey into the darkness I hope never comes: When the End Comes. If you feel nuclear war isn’t just political – but deeply personal, please start sharing how you feel, share this song if it touches you and speaks for how you feel – and please share your thoughts with me. (For those who asked, the singer is Janet Greeley, and I’m playing the piano – Jan was the lead in the musical)


(Below is the original blog post from May 3, 2017)

Back in the 80’s I was living in New York City, playing harp at the Waldorf Astoria by night and writing musicals and chamber music by day.  On my way to work I’d see stencils painted on the sidewalk, “2 Miles to Ground Zero” and an arrow, “1 Mile to Ground Zero” – they were all around the Upper West Side.

I asked about them and learned they were part of a kind of Guerrilla Theater called “The Ground Zero Club” that dealt with the anxiety of nuclear annihilation with humor.  Their motto was “If we weren’t serious, we wouldn’t be laughing”

If we weren't serious, we wouldn't be laughing (Ground Zero Club Motto) Click To Tweet

As soon as I knew learned what the stencils meant I was so moved that I went home and wrote this song, sung here by one of my favorite singers, Janet Greeley.

The song became part of a whole musical that I produced in 1983 with a grants from “Meet the Composer,” the Massachusetts Artist Council and WBEZ television.

I tried to mount the show again in the 90’s but everyone told me nuclear annihilation was passé.

Everyone told me nuclear annihilation was passé Click To Tweet

Yesterday I heard an article on NPR about designer fallout shelters.  But with a new name I don’t remember.

I guess things really do come back into style. 

About 10 or 15 years ago I started editing the piece again and hired artist Heikki Vuorramnaa to draw me pictures of the scenes in the play.  This is one of them.

So … any time you want to mount a musical comedy about nuclear annihilation – just let me know – I’ve got the whole thing in a binder on my studio shelf.