Archive for Lester Maddox

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Randy Newman

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , on September 21, 2010 by 30daysout

Here’s one from my own collection, one that I actually had to special order back in the day because nobody at the record store had heard of the artist!  It’s Good Old Boys, by Randy Newman, from 1974.

Back then I used to read Rolling Stone magazine, and I saw this article about how L.A. “bad boy” Randy Newman was going to put out a record where he confronts the bigots in the South about racism and stuff.   Rolling Stone loved Newman’s previous album, Sail Away (1972), and they had pretty high hopes for the new one.  Of course, by that time I was mainlining the Warner Bros. Loss Leaders samplers and those featured a lot of Randy Newman too.

So I went looking for Good Old Boys – nobody had it, and back then you only had a few places you could go to buy records.  If it wasn’t at the department store or at Ted’s Record Shop in Jefferson City Shopping Center (Port Arthur, Texas), you were out of luck.  But the girl behind the counter at Ted’s wanted to be helpful, so she offered to “Special Order” the album for me.  After I gave her my telephone number and stuff she was kinda curious, and she asked “What does he sing?”  I could only laugh, because I sure as hell couldn’t explain.

About two weeks later, the album arrived but the only format they could get was 8-track.  To this day, I still don’t understand why they couldn’t get me an LP copy – it’s not like Randy Newman sold that many albums back then, or ever.  Anyhow, Good Old Boys was pretty unique even in 1974.  Perhaps the most notorious song of the day was “Rednecks,” inspired after Newman saw Lester Maddox, who was formerly governor of Georgia, interviewed on TV’s “The Dick Cavett Show.”  Maddox was an unapologetic segregationist, and Cavett had him on as a guest so he could expose Maddox’s racist views.  Cavett’s questioning so enraged Maddox that he walked off the show.

“Rednecks” is told from the point of view of a Maddox supporter, and he talks about the “New York Jew” who made fun of his beloved governor (Cavett is not really Jewish, but …).  The narrator wonders why Northerners hate the South, saying “we’re keeping the niggers down.”  But then he points the finger on Northern hypocrisy, citing examples of ghettos in big cities like Boston, New York and Los Angeles, where they were “gatherin’ them up, from miles around/Keepin’ the niggers down.”

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