August 1, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Nashville bombing: Petula Clark shocked by use of ‘Downtown’

Singer Petula Clark has spoken out in confusion about the use of her 1964 song “Downtown” by the man who set off a bomb in an RV on a Nashville street on Christmas Day.

“Why this violent act — leaving behind it such devastation?” the British singer said in a statement posted Tuesday on Facebook. “A few hours later — I was told that the music in the background of that strange announcement — was me — singing ‘Downtown’! Of all the thousands of songs — why this one?”

The classic pop song played at the end of a timed countdown, where a woman’s voice had warned people to clear the area because the RV contained a bomb. Though police worked rapidly to evacuate residents, eight people were injured by the blast.

The bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner of Antioch, Tenn., died in the early morning explosion, which damaged dozens of buildings, especially one housing AT&T equipment. The 63-year-old was identified via DNA after his remains were found in the aftermath of the blast. No motive has yet been determined.

On Facebook, 88-year-old Clark tried to make sense of why her song was used but didn’t come to a clear conclusion.

“Of course, the opening lyric is, ‘When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go Downtown,’” she wrote. “But millions of people all over the world have been uplifted by this joyful song. Perhaps you can read something else into these words — depending on your state of mind. It’s possible.”

The AT&T building was the central office of a telephone exchange, with network equipment in it, the company said. Some internet access in Tennessee and surrounding states went down after the blast, as well as some cellphone and 911 service in counties in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted flights out of Nashville International Airport Friday due to telecommunications issues.

The singer, whose other hits include “I Know a Place” and “My Love,” ended with a heartfelt wish for the people of Music City.

“I would like to wrap my arms around Nashville — give you all a hug — and wish you Love, a Happy and Healthy New Year — and, as we sometimes say in the U.K., steady the Buffs! (Look it up!),” Clark wrote.

Look up that phrase if you like, or simply know: It’s a version of the admonition “Keep calm and carry on.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.