Music for a Sunday: Possibly the coolest anti-racism song ever

In honor of Black History Month, I present to you an old fave of mine:

Here’s Martha Johnson’s explanation of what it refers to:

I was driving around in the band van listening to some pop radio station when I heard the DJ introduce the song “Brown-Eyed Girl” by telling the listeners that when Van Morrison had originally written the song it was titled “Brown-Skinned Girl”. He had been strongly urged to change it as his record company at the time was worried that the title and interracial theme might offend some people and hurt his chances of having a hit with the record.

I thought this story was so ludicrous until I started thinking about here we were in 1984 and not much had changed as music was still segregated into black music stations and white music stations. I remember it was still an issue at that time whether Michael Jackson would be played only on the black stations!

Of course, the station where I first heard this song–1050 CHUM–was not one of those segregated channels. It played everything, from old Motown right up to the latest British Invasion/New Wave pop I loved so much. Michael Jackson was very much on the playlist, both solo and with his brothers. And of course, the station broke ground for a lot of great Canadian bands, including this one.

The silliness of the persistent racism of the times (on some stations, anyway) gets a light-hearted send-up in this video. Everything is a play on the black-and-white theme. And there are some seriously cool effects, too: the dancing-on-the-ceiling scene is not a trick of editing. It was shot upside-down. They’re actually dancing around a light-fixture on the floor, while the black man looking “up” at them is “sitting” at his table suspended from the real ceiling!

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