Friday, February 27, 2015

Songs South: Rednecks

Randy Newman "Rednecks"
purchase Randy Newman "Rednecks"

For the second week in a row, I am going to bend (not break) the rules. No "south" in the title and only one use of the word in the lyrics: a single mention of the south side of Chicago. But Newman leaves no doubt about the brunt of his jibes: he's singing about "down here".


Although we probably shouldn't assume that North/South is a predominantly American theme, for many reasons - more than 100 years after the war that tried to split the South from the North - the US is still dealing with the issue (Selma ... 10 Years a Slave ...Neil Young and Lynard Skynard). For the record, and perhaps the "lite" aspect of this is all for the best, the Google prompt for a search for South leads to ... South Park. But of course.
North <> South ... East <> West ... Male <> Female ...there are too many dichotomies in life to list them all. Or to dwell on them. Too firmly believing in things has a tendency to lead folks to take sides - not just to take sides, but to try to defend one side over another when, in fact, there is always more than one  (right) side to any issue. There is no South without a corresponding North.  That said, some wise man once said that music soothes the savage beast - certainly it should bridge a North/South divide.
But back to American rock and our theme. We were looking for Songs South, and I suggested in the lead off prompt to my fellow bloggers (which none has yet taken up) that they might try Idlewild South/Allman Brothers. Now, there's a quintessentially southern (or is that Southern with a capital S?) band and a southern sound. I also proposed that someone take on Southern Man (see above).But those are really a bit too trite (you'll agree?)
How about Randy Newman? Now there's a musician who regards few constraints towards taking sides or soothing the savage beast. His take on the south is so "in your face", whether you agree with his perspective(lyrics) or not. Pardon my French (as my folks used to say). He describes southerners so:
we don't know our ass from a hole in the ground


Ouch! But if you are taking offense, you missed the whole point above (and I lived in Greensboro, NC for years and years). What I do like about this song (typical of the man) is its irreverance. And the way it seems like "I could write that song" (but couldnt) - so simple on the surface, but so deep below. Lyrically and musically.



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