Uncle Remus

Notes and Comments

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From: Charles Ulrich forthcoming book Project/Object
  This song was written by FZ and George Duke. FZ sings lead, backed by Tina Turner and the Ikettes. [or Susie Glover? Sue Glover is a British session singer, who has sung on records by the Brotherhood of Man, Joe Cocker, Elton John, and Mott the Hoople, among others.] George Duke plays the unaccompanied piano introduction but does not sing on this version. The musicians are Alex "Erroneous" Dmochowski (bass),George Duke (keyboards), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), and FZ (guitar). The basic tracks were recorded in spring, 1972, in the sessions for Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo. Overdubs were done in February-March, 1973, during the sessions for Over-Nite Sensation.
  FZ performed "Uncle Remus" in concert on very rare occasions: once in 1973, once in 1975, and three times in 1988. George Duke released his own version of the song on his 1975 solo album The Aura Will Prevail.
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Wo... are we movin' too slow?
Have you seen us,
Uncle Remus?
From: Jack Fleming <>
  Uncle Remus is a character created by Joel Chandler Harris in a collection of stories that was first published in 1880. They also appeared in the Disney movie "Song of the South".
From: (Charles Ulrich)
  Uncle Remus was the central character of several books by Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), a white journalist from Georgia. Uncle Remus was a wise, old slave who told folk tales about Bre'r Rabbit, Bre'r Fox, and Bre'r Bear. (Bre'r was Harris's spelling of the dialectal pronunciation of the word brother.) James Baskett won a special Academy Award for his portrayal of Uncle Remus in Disney's film Song of the South (1946), which was part live-action and part animated. The film is rarely seen nowadays, since it is felt to contain negative stereotypes of African-Americans.
From: (David A Thomas)
  > Tony says:
  > Uncle Remus is a character from a (disney-like) movie. He is an old > wise negro. We're talkin about a fifties-thing. Any comments on this?
  Alas, another example of the damage Walt Disney has done to literature. Uncle Remus was a character created by the American author Joel Chandler Harris. The "Tar-Baby Story" was first published in the _Atlanta_Constitution_ in 1879. In this and later stories, Uncle Remus, a wise old black man, tells animal stories to a little boy, the son of a plantation owner, and through these stories he interweaves his philosophy of the world about him.
  By the early 1970's, the Uncle Remus stories were considered hopelessly stereotypical because of the heavy use of black dialect and politically incorrect because they portrayed plantation life from a Southern perspective. The books had generally been removed from the schools during the late '60s.
  For George Duke and FZ, Uncle Remus probably represented a character similar to (but more amusing than) Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom. The origins and intent of the two characters could not be more different, however. Stowe was an abolitionist who lived in New England whereas Harris had lived on a plantation himself as a boy.
  Walt Disney's "Song of the South" used the Uncle Remus stories, but rendered them into pablum, of course.
From: (Cliff Heller)
  Uncle Remus is the only song that's really about anything. It's basically an anthem for the early 70's negro. It expresses a resigned frustration. Basically, just trying to get your fair share yet having to deal with such injustices as being hosed down (presumably during riots.) The only way they can get back at white society is to go to "Beverly Hills, just before dawn and knock the little jokeys off the rich people's lawns." It was (and may still be) common for rich people to have a ceramic negro jockey on their lawn. Gnomes are also common.
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I can't wait til mah 'fro is full grown
From: db832@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Phillip A. Freshour)
  An "Afro" (or "'fro") was a huge head of hair, popular among African- Americans in the 1970s.
From: (Hank Knox)
  Short for 'afro'; what you get if you're black and you let your hair grow out. Check out any number of movies from the '70s (Superfly, stuff like that) to get an idea what a 'fro looks like. If you're as old as me, think back on that wretched TV show, 'The Mod Squad'; one of those guys had a 'fro. (Or how about that Buddy Miles album cover, with Buddy's 'fro glowing in a sort of electric aroma?)
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I'll just through in my doo-rag at home
From: db832@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Phillip A. Freshour)
  A "doo-rag" is, well, a rag for your hair-do. It's usually a bandana tied around one's skull. Sam Kinison often wore a doo-rag.
From: (Hank Knox)
  It's probably 'throw'... And someone else can flesh out the 'doo-rag' reference; my guess it has to something to do with the process of straightening out naturally kinky hair into some kind of straight, kind-of-white-person's hair-do.
From: (Brian J. Bernstein)
  No, a doo-rag (or however you care to spell it) is basically some kind of cloth or such used to cover / hold together / manage? your hair.. Many people when trying to grow their hair out will wear one of these.. I wore a bandanna for several months while growing my hair out.. btw.. I think it's "I'll just throw away my doo-rag at home..."
From: John Henley <>
  Correct.....actually, it's "I'll just throw 'way my doo-rag...." That's a little nod towards black "dialect."
From: (DeLoach)
  I always thought a doo-rag was like a bandana wrapped on yer head (as in hairdo-rag). I come from a very sanitized upbringing however and all my cultural input is from TV...(so it must be true).
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I'll take a drive to
Beverly Hills
Just before dawn
And knock
the little jockeys
Off the rich peoples lawn
From: (Eric Pepke)
  Lawn jockeys (which are usually cast iron, not ceramic) still exist, but they've all been whitewashed.
From: John Henley <>
  This could stand a little further explanation. I believe that cast-iron figures such as these were originally _hitching posts for horses_, back in the 19th Century. I don't know that they originated in the American South, but the plantation culture of the South at that time permitted the landowners to live in a fairly wealthy genteel manner, in large houses. It had to be much classier for the owners to provide decorative hitching posts for horses, their own or visitors', as opposed to the rickety wooden hitching posts found outside merchants' shops or common peoples' dwellings. And, because we're talking about a culture dependent on slavery, then naturally the figure would represent something they knew: the Negro servant who took the reins of the horse when the master finished his ride. As to the jockey's dress: it was also common in the South for black slaves (and later, servants) to be the horse handlers, and to serve as jockeys in the informal horse races of the time, and later in the more formal races. Obviously, these items continued as decorative figures around the old manor houses long after they ceased serving as hitching posts, until finally they became simply yard decorations used by anyone of any class who wanted to spiff up their homesteads. In this sense, they are much the same as pink flamingos. But because they're black caricatures, they are commonly considered to be offensive and unacceptable now. (Note: the collecting of black-caricature figures such as these has become a hobby among some well-heeled or notable black people nowadays, such as Whoopi Goldberg.)
From: Charles Ulrich forthcoming book Project/Object
  The "little jockeys" are cast-iron hitching posts in the shape of an African-American jockey, once fairly common (though purely ornamental since the rise of the automobile) but now considered racist. These jockeys also appear in the stage directions of "The Mammy Nuns" on Thing-Fish.
From: Vladimir Sovetov
The ENSEMBLE lits their skirts, revealing
customized lawn-jokeys with out-
streched lantern-bearing arm positioned
between their legs

Insted of a lantern, the hand of each
jockey clutches a shower-head plumbing

On cue, what appears to be piss sprinkles
onto HARRY, RHONDA. and other
FIRST NIGHTERS. Dry ice concealed
beneath the target area gives the illusion of
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I'll be knocking the jockeys off the lawn
Down in the dew
From: Charles Ulrich forthcoming book Project/Object
  The closing phrase "Down in de dew" reappears as the title of a track on Lšther.

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