Aug 112010

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

In some ways, “Rednecks” is the most Randy Newman of all Randy Newman songs. It takes the classic Newman trope of the unlikeable narrator to its logical extreme: a proud racist boasting his ignorance and dropping the N-bomb right and left. It’s a scathing indictment of Southern bigotry…except it isn’t. What looks like a smarmy Californian taking pot shots at the South turns on its axis in the final verse about just how “free” the black man really is up North.

Yes he’s free to be put in a cage in Harlem, in New York City
And he’s free to be put in a cage on the South Side of Chicago and the West Side
And he’s free to be put in a cage in Hough in Cleveland
And he’s free to be put in a cage in East St. Louis
And he’s free to be put in a cage in Fillmore in San Francisco
And he’s free to be put in a cage in Roxbury in Boston
They’re gatherin’ ’em up from miles around
Keepin’ the n*****s down

Never one to shy away from sensitive issues, Steve Earle covers “Rednecks” with a giant pair of country-rock cajones. His Texan drawl adds an authenticity to the tune that the frog-voiced Newman could never pull off.

MP3: Steve Earle – Rednecks (Steve Earle cover)

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Check out more Steve Earle at his website or MySpace.

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  2 Responses to “Song of the Day: Steve Earle, “Rednecks” (Randy Newman cover)”

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  1. […] In addition to his own songwriting, he records fantastic covers. His tribute album to early mentor Townes Van Zandt was quite moving, and the early-rock covers on his album with Shawn Colvin in 2016 were terrific (check out “You Were On My Mind”). He gave The Wire a season’s theme song covering Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole” while acting on the show too as a recovering addict (hardly a stretch). And, my personal two favorites, he delivers arguably the definitive versions of Warren Zevon’s “Reconsider Me” and Randy Newman’s “Rednecks.” […]

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