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5 Classic Rock Songs That Are Horribly Racist

Showbiz CheatSheet logo: MainLogo Showbiz CheatSheet 27.05.2023 06:31:58 Matthew Trzcinski
John Lennon

Some classic rock songs are just terribly racist. The fact that some of these classic rock songs got any airplay is upsetting. For example, John Lennon released a song that was supposed to be feminist but failed miserably.

According to a 1980 interview from the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, John called "Woman Is the N-Word of the World" the first feminist song ever. That's just false. He praises "Woman Is the N-Word of the World" for coming out before Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman," a song that aged far better.

In "Woman Is the N-Word of the World," he's definitely trying to speak about the oppression of women, but he repeatedly uses a slur to make his point. He never should have gone there. John's later song "Woman" is a much better feminist anthem that isn't offensive at all.

The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is the most famous song ever written that valorizes the Confederacy. There are other interpretations of the song, but the evidence suggests it was inspired by Neo-Confederate sentiment. That's pretty shocking considering it was written by Robbie Robertson, a Canadian. Notably, Joan Baez, a singer who performed at the March on Washington and fought for civil rights, covered "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." This song proves pro-Confederate propaganda even managed to fool some left-wing activists and Canadians back in the 1960s.

Speaking of pro-Confederate propaganda, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Rebels" is on the same wavelength as "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" - only it's a lot less direct. There's no mention of Robert E. Lee, but it's about how cool it is to be a "rebel" born in "Dixie." 

The tune came from Petty's album Southern Accents, which is even more offensive. According to Rolling Stone, Petty used the Confederate flag while playing songs from the album. He even released a live album called Pack Up The Plantation: Live! In a 2015 essay, Petty apologized for ever using the flag, comparing it to the Nazi swastika. Aside from Southern Accents, Petty's classic rock songs largely stayed away from offensive territory.

And speaking of Nazis, Slayer sang from the point of view of Josef Mengele in "Angel of Death." There's nothing wrong about writing a song about the Holocaust, and several classic rock songs deal with the evils of Nazism. However, Slayer approaches the subject with zero sensitivity and the lyrics are dehumanizing. This sounds like it's supposed to be fun music for a skater park. In a 2004 interview with Pure Rock, Slayer's Jeff Hanneman said the song didn't express Nazi sympathies. This track is part of the band's long history of offensive behavior and heavy metal's larger issues with racism.

Guns N' Roses' "One in a Million" is one of the most infamously bigoted songs ever. In it, Axl Rose rails against Black people, Iranians, immigrants, gay men, and basic human decency. 

The tune initially appeared on the album G N' R Lies. According to The Guardian, the band left it off a rerelease of the album. Good riddance! Fan would much prefer to hear the band's classic rock songs without this racist drivel.

samedi 27 mai 2023 09:31:58 Categories: Showbiz CheatSheet: MainLogo

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