Saturday, June 12, 2004

Cuz I Just Can't Get Enough

In his essay, "Forgotten Soldier Boy: War & the Poltics of Country Music," David E. Whisnant has this to add about everyone's (yes, that means you) new-old favorite song, "Filipino Baby":

I learned recently that the song came not out of World War II but out of the Spanish American War. It was written by Charles K. Harris’s in 1898, and in the original song—unlike the version I played for you—it is a "colored sailor lad" ("as black as black can be") who asks his white shipmates to look at "my gal’s photograph." When they do, they laugh at him (and at her, who is also black). Undaunted, he tells them "There’s no yaller gal that’s dearer / Though her face is black as jet." On balance, it appears, the condescending tolerance expressed for the cross-racial relationship in the World War II song renders it somewhat less overtly racist than Harris’s rather minstrel-like original.

Kinda puts a whole new twist on things...

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