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  • Would you?

    At band practice last night a question came up: Would you feel comfortable playing "Brown Sugar"?

     

    I don't mean comfortable from a style/dance/band point of view... I mean, would you be comfortable with the subject matter of the song - a slave master abusing a female slave?

     

    I'm not a huge prude or anything, but I wonder how people today would react to that song in a typical club or bar? Or even a private party? Have you had any experience with it?

     

    <div class="signaturecontainer">_______________________ ___________<br><br>Fab4ever<br></div>

  • #2

    We do it, and it always goes over well.  The intro is very recognizable, and we find that audiences tend to favor songs they know.  It continues to get regular airplay on classic rock stations, which suggests to us that people in that demographic want to hear it.   

    <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.engine14.com" target="_blank">www.engine14.com</a></div>

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    • jeff42
      jeff42 commented
      Editing a comment

      I have played that song once every few gigs for the last 7 years. No problems at all. We usually only pull it out when a friend of ours comes out and he does a mean Mick Jagger 

       

       

      Is it really about slaves? or is it really about herion? or getting down and groovy with a hot black girl?

      meh... no one I have ever played it for seemed to care about the lyrics. They just danced.


  • #3

    I've heard it on commerical radio a multitude of times over the years - which I consider to be evidence that it's "mainstream" enough to not worry too much about it.   Are the lyrics questionable?  I suppose so ... but then, who the hell really knows what words are coming out of Mick's mouth ... ever?  

    One of my projects does it.   I've never heard anybody in the crowd gasp at our insensitivity to song's meaning and potential offensiveness to the thin-skinned.

    I'd play it without much worry ... if somebody in the audience has an issue ... plead ignorance and by 'em a beer. 

     

     

    The SpaceNorman

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    • Fab4ever
      Fab4ever commented
      Editing a comment

      Thanks again for the responses. Sounds like no one here has a problem with these lyrics, at least so far. I wonder... are we all white guys here? I am, at least, and I wonder if I would feel different if I were African-American.


  • #4

    Fab4ever wrote:

    At band practice last night a question came up: Would you feel comfortable playing "Brown Sugar"?

     

    I don't mean comfortable from a style/dance/band point of view... I mean, would you be comfortable with the subject matter of the song - a slave master abusing a female slave?

     

    I'm not a huge prude or anything, but I wonder how people today would react to that song in a typical club or bar? Or even a private party? Have you had any experience with it?

     


    Played it live hundreds and hundreds of times. I don't have a problem with it. The lyrics aren't actually condoning the behavior. They are just reporting what takes place.

    <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="mailto:tlbonehead@yahoo.com">tlbonehead@yaho o.com</a><br />
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    • #5
      Well I always thought the 3rd verse was 1st person. But nobody except those who have ever sung the song have probably ever bothered to notice.
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      • #6
        I have a similar concern about "money for nothing". Obviously "the little faggot in the earing and the mink coat" verse is meant as satire, but I just wonder how it will go over. Also, I do a couple g-funk era rap tunes and how to handle the n-word content (im a white dude) is always dicey. Usually I say "brutha", or if I've had a couple, "****************er".

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        • #7

          FWIW.....

           

          Like most of us, I've been hearing this song for virtually my entire life.   It's been around as long as I can remember, and I've heard it a bazillion times.

          But the fact is, Mick's delivery and elocution on the song aren't particularly clear, and a lot of the lyrics sound kinda loose.   I'm in my mid-40's, and it wasn't until a year or two ago that I finally saw the lyrics for the first time, and realized just how dark and mysogynistic the subject matter was.

          I'm guessing a lot of people are in that same boat;  otherwise, I think we'd be more likely to hear some kind of backlash, or hear about people getting offended when the song is played.

          But the fact is, the only people I've ever seen who seem concerned about the song are musicians asking whether they should be concerned about people being offended by the song.   But to date, the number of  people I've seen who were actually offended equals approximately zero.   In fact, I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of listeners have no clue.

          Comment


          • SeniorBlues
            SeniorBlues commented
            Editing a comment

            As with many (most?) songs, the audience knows the words to the chorus, but hardly anybody knows the words to the verses. If that's an accurate assessment, then bands that play "Brown Sugar" are essentially getting away with something.  If you see yourself as an actor of sorts - channeling Jagger, if you will - then there's a certain detachment, and they'll cut you some slack, just like they would if they were watching their favorite actor play a despicable character in a movie. But I don't think there's an exact parallel.  A lot of music is higher personal and biographical.  A lot of cover bands want you to relate to the lyrics, so no, I don't think you can have it both ways.


          • jeff42
            jeff42 commented
            Editing a comment

            n9ne wrote:

             But to date, the number of  people I've seen who were actually offended equals approximately zero.   In fact, I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of listeners have no clue.


            THIS.  I can say that Most of the people I have played this song in front of have no clue (and don't care) what the lyrics are other than OOOH! C'MON BROWN SUGAR! How come you taste so good?

             

            Song meanings? Meh, they couldn't care less. They are out for a good time not a musical education about lyrical themes behind a song 40+ years old. 


        • #8
          I've played brown sugar for as long as I can remember. Great song, lyrically? Blah never put much thought in it. We also do Sympathy for the Devil.

          Out bass player didn't want to play push by matchbox 20 because of the lyrics. I said "really?"

          Then shrugged it off. There's so many songs to choose from.
          NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

          Comment


          • #9
            So don't play it of you feel that way about it.


            But don't think that you can force me to stop playing it. Your freedom of speech ends where mine begins.
            NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

            Comment


            • Potts
              Potts commented
              Editing a comment

              StratGuy22 wrote:
              So don't play it of you feel that way about it.


              But don't think that you can force me to stop playing it. Your freedom of speech ends where mine begins.

               

              A little overboard there Strat... I think what he was doing was defending his opinion and the fact that Norman basically called him a fool. I don't think he was telling anyone to stop playing it.


          • #10
            A little overboard there Strat... I think what he was doing was defending his opinion and the fact that Norman basically called him a fool. I don't think he was telling anyone to stop playing it.
            -------------------------------

            Ahhhh ok. I thought it was a petition to have it removed from set lists. I hear bands play Crazy Bitch all the time. Always packs the dance floor. My band doesn't play crazy bitch, just not our style.

            When it comes to songs about women, I'd rather play Some Kind of Wonderful.

            <3
            NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

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            • #11
              I love a good Internet fight. They are absolutely silly, I've been a part of too many, but I love watching them. Fight on, dudes! Who will win?
              ___

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              • lsits
                lsits commented
                Editing a comment
                I always thought that "Under My Thumb" sould be more offensive.

            • #12
              An agreeable person:

              Someone who agrees with you.

              NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

              Comment


              • guido61
                guido61 commented
                Editing a comment

                Everybody is going to have their own ideas of what is offensive and acceptible for them to perform.  I might not agree that Brown Sugar is particularly offensive, but if someone else feels it is---then that's just how they feel about it.    And the OP has a point because the lyrics AREN'T just "reporting" or "historical" because the 3rd verse is first person and, as such, the singer is validating the sentiments of the first two verses to a large degree.  And simply the line "Brown sugar how come you taste so good" could be seen as offensive to some.  And seems first person in all the verses to me.

                I'd never try to make anyone sing something they were personally uncomfortable with, for whatever reason.

                Everyone has different things that bug them or the personally find offensive.  For me, I've never felt entirely comfortable singing Sweet Home Alabama because some of the lyrics---at least to me---celebrate white southern racism.  And even though lines like "In Birmingham they love the governor" could easily be brushed off as "reporting" and even though it takes a lot of knowledge of political history to understand everything behind that one line (which certainly most people listening to the song today either don't know about, don't notice, or don't care) it still always feels distateful to me when it comes out of my mouth.

                 


            • #13
              Happened recently to a black musician I know
              www.ostrichhat.com

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              • #14
                Exactly. I always thought we were still maintaining relevance. You're the one who claimed otherwise and then indicated your post actually WAS relevant.

                Make up your mind.
                _________________________________________________
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                • #15
                  What's up your ass? What "knowledge" am I supposedly spouting?

                  As far as the "real world" goes, seems like I'm the only one here who actually bothered to ask someone actually FROM the "real world" about it instead of just pondering about the subject from behind the safety of their computer keyboard..,.

                  ....just sayin'....
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                  • benzem
                    benzem commented
                    Editing a comment

                    guido61 wrote:
                    What's up your ass? What "knowledge" am I supposedly spouting?

                    As far as the "real world" goes, seems like I'm the only one here who actually bothered to ask someone actually FROM the "real world" about it instead of just pondering about the subject from behind the safety of their computer keyboard..,.

                    ....just sayin'....

                    Yes, that is right, you are the only one from the real world. Haha!

                     

                    Yet, sadly, from my perspective, you are a complete moron.

                     

                    Sorry.

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