Uncle Remus

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Wo, are we movin' too slow?
Have you seen us,
Uncle Remus . . .
We look pretty sharp in these clothes (yes, we do)
Unless we get sprayed with a hose
It ain't bad in the day
If they squirt it your way
'Cept in the winter, when it's froze
An' it's hard if it hits
On yer nose
On yer nose

Just keep yer nose
To the grindstone, they say
Will that redeem us,
Uncle Remus . . .
I can't wait till my Fro is full-grown
I'll just throw 'way my Doo-Rag at home
I'll take a drive to BEVERLY HILLS
Just before dawn
An' knock the little jockeys
Off the rich people's lawn
An' before they get up
I'll be gone, I'll be gone
Before they get up
I'll be knocking the jockeys off the lawn
Down in the dew

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Tribute & Cover Albums

Not exactly a cover, since Zappa and George Duke co-wrote the song, but it's on George Duke's outstanding album "The Aura Will Prevail" (1975). Duke originally wrote the song as a gospel parody, and his version is in keeping with that - much different from the Zappa version. Zappa wrote the words, not the music.

Notes About This Song

Uncle Remus is a fictional character from the stories of Br'er Rabbit by Joel Chandler Harris. He is an old, jolly black slave working in the cotton fields who enjoys telling children stories about B'er Rabbit.

This is clearly a song about the civil rights movement in the United States as Zappa saw it in 1974.

It is easy to compare this song to one of Zappa's few prior songs about race relations, 1966's "Trouble Every Day", a look at the Watts riots from the perspective of a numb television viewer. That song took a long, hard look at both the blacks who were burning down buildings and attacking merchants because "a few of them were white" and the racist that sought to "do you in/ because the color of your skin/ just don't appeal to him".

Somehow, "Uncle Remus" is more terrible in that it paints a picture of blacks as having largely given up the fight. They accept the fire hoses turned on them, and casually say that it's not so bad as long as it's not winter time, when the water is cold.

Instead of standing up for themselves, the would-be nephews of "Uncle Remus" are excited about the potential of their afros growing out and enjoying how snappy they look in their new clothes. If that's not superficial enough, their way of "fighting back" is by sneaking around in the predawn hours and vandalizing the yard ornaments of rich white folk.

CC Clues In This Song