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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

David Alan Coe, Unrepentent racist

OK, so I grew up admiring, at one point, some of the "outlaw country" performers, like Waylon and Willie. I remember wandering into a bar in Texas in the mid-80s and fidning out the guy setting up to play for about 30 people was Ray Wiley Hubbard, originator of the song "Red Neck Mothers" that my friends and I would drunkingly sing at the top of our voices as teens. I alter, learned, of course, that the rebel flag and "south's gonna rise again" mantra of much of that scene was racist to the core, whether they recognized or admitted it or not.

Saw in today's Roanoke Times that David Alan Coe is coming to town. Article made mention of some controversy over some songs he recorded in 1978 and 1982 on albums offered exclusively through Easy Rider magazine. These albums kind of flew under the mainstream press radar until the Internet gave them wider exposure about 10 years ago. Coe in interviews angrily defends himself against charges of racism, pointing to his having a black drummer "married to a white chick" and Coe's hairstyle of dreadlocks down to his waist. And claims the songs (intermixed with misogynist, x-rated songs) were just bawdy fun, recorded on a lark and never meant for wider audiences. So which is it, is there nothing to be ashamed of with the songs, or is the problem that they've been brought to the light of day?

I decided to check out the lyrics to these songs. One, called "Rails," released on the Nothing Sacred album offered through Easy Rider in 1978, has lyrics that in part go like this: (asterisks not in original)
"Now women make me think of consolation
prison makes me think of isolation
ni**ers made me vote for segregation
and cocaine makes me" [you get the idea]
and later,
"Well it's hard to work for a dollar a week
and the Ku Klux Klan is bigger
so take the sheets off of your bed
and let's go hang a ni**er"

about the ugliest, most despicable thing I've read in a long time. I mean, that makes me want to show up in Roanoke with a hundred like-minded folks and pound his head in. But then again, violence is not the answer. Still, I'd like to...

Then there is the song from the 1982 Easy Rider-offered Underground album whose title blatantly says it all: "Ni**er F*cker"
I'm ashamed to publish much of this one, but here's enough to get an idea whether this was, as Coe claims, just a lark--harmless fun that's no reflection on Coe's racial views:
"Said she'd finally found a man
Who's d**k was so much bigger
Then that scumbag motherf***er
Ran off with a ni**er
Sure is hard to figure
How any decent girl could ever f**k
A greasy ni**er
there's nothing quite as worthless
As a white girl with a ni**er"

And Coe, as far as I can tell, has never disavowed these songs, never apologized to anyone for them, never claimed to have learned how wrong it was to write, record and perform such vulgar trash. And he's still out there playing. Anybody want to get up a group to convey our displeasure when he shows up?

If the printing of the above lyrics offend my readers, I'm sorry. They deeply offend me too, though not in the same way, I'm sure, as they do African Americans, and women of all races. It was not my intent to open wounds. I felt that the full impact of the harm this man has caused and the need to make him see the need to repent and apologize and disavow his involvement with these songs could only be conveyed by revealing just how revolting, insulting, offensive and inciting to violence his views were/are.


Eileen W. said...

Wow, Steve!! This guy's a racist, sexist piece of crap and it sounds like he's just pissed that the lyrics have been revealed through the internet. I am disgusted that anyone would book him in Roanoke. I'm also glad you are sharing it with us, I had no idea. *shakes head*

HulkSmash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crazybabe said...

You so know that he had a black drummer in his band yes?

Unknown said...

Well you can have your opinion, I love david allen coe. Atleast he doesn't hide behind lies and deceit. He is who he is and that's that..... so what about all the " R&B" or " Rap" singers who express their hate for women and white people.... they are always demeaning women calling them bitches and hoes, and how white people can't co.e in their "hoods" .. what about the infamous NWA? Remember them? 3 of the4 members are still alive .. but no one asks them about their racial bigotry in their early music of the 1990's..... why os it always the white people who have to answer for their words? What about Malcom X? He was the biggest racist ever... no one criticizes his words

Ole said...

Hi, interesting article. Recently, David Allan Coe, has manned up a lot more, refusing to sing those vile songs, and apologized. And from a lot of websites I've read, black people who have met him, have said he's very kind, a very funny person who spends time talking to everyone. And has a black ex-Boxer as a body guard now. He has decried the racism of how the US Government treated American Indians. He's sung songs making fun of Homophobes, hatred of racists (White Power Nazi's hate him). You are entitled to your opinion of course. If you just don't like him, that's fine. I don't think he cares much of the people who dislike him, or do like him, he does his own thing.

- said...

I'm not sure that anyone is still following this thread, but I'll chime in.

It's difficult to know the mind or heart of another.

There is nothing about me that is remotely racist. That said, if I want to piss off a black guy, I know the words to use. That's nothing to be proud of, but it's not racism.

If my girlfriend left me for another, white or black, I would pull few punches demeaning that person. Once again, nothing to be proud of, but it's not racism.

I haven't even considered modern usage among whites and blacks.

In the case of Coe, he has one underground recording from decades ago in which he is liberal with the n-word. I am slow to draw too many conclusions. I am much more likely to examine his actual relationships with blacks than the lyrics of song recorded as a joke, a bad joke, decades ago.

I'm not saying that Coe isn't a racist, but my standard of proof is higher.

BanditKing said...

The white privilege in the comments is astounding...

Steve McGlamery said...

agreed, Banditking.

AB6254 said...

Well, if you don't like his lyrics, no one is forcing you to listen or go online to see what kind of dirt you can find. It's funny to me how blacks can say horrible, racist things about whites and nobody seems to care or notice. So until you hold all these foul mouth rappers to same standards and expect them to respect whites, you are kind of being a hypocrite to bring up songs that David Allen Coe wrote and recorded 20-30 YEARS ago! I'm not racist, and I'm a fan of David Allen Coe. He is no longer using these songs you speak of when he performs, so I'm not sure what your reason for bringing up something he performed so very long ago, except to perhaps stir up more racially motivated hatred, as if there's not enough of that already.

Anonymous said...

Ab6254 read this guy's original post where he wants to smash DAC's head in. These guy of people are as bad as the people they "expose". I don't think DAC was hiding these albums. Who in the fuck would have released these in the '70's or '80's! No major would have touched these! That's why they're "underground records. Guy's like this love to stir up stuff and are usually knee jerk anti racist white feminist males. They love to show how sensitive they are to everyone-women,gays, blacks etc. Look at me I'm ashamed of my "white privilege"! Makes me wanna puke.

Sean M. said...

I'm white. I'm married to a hispanic woman. I don't consider myself racist, but that's easy to say when you've never been on the other end of the spectrum. There's a simple reason why White people in the states need to offer a little more room for Black Americans to express their racial views. The history of slavery, civil rights issues and all cruel and unspeakable things related to them are far from behind us.

So, when people start saying things like, "well the black rappers have filthy mouths, and their messages are rampant with hatred and racial slurs toward whites," I have to raise my eyebrows in astonishment and ask them why they think that is? Certainly, any reasonable person would agree that Blacks in this country have a right to express a certain amount of backlash, in any way they see fit. We all love to cite the 'freedom of speech.' It's not always pretty is it? White artists have had plenty of opportunity to express themselves through the years, openly, honestly, and unfortunately at times—in very ugly ways.

Black Americans still have a long way to go, with such a rough and unfair start in the not-too-distant past. We all need to help them get there, and in order to do so, we need to listen and offer our assistance. Maybe more of our Black neighbors need to hear an empathetic word or two from a White friend?

So many Whites love to say, "well, that bigotry has nothing to do with me! I didn't say those things! Why should I live in fear?" I say, it's our turn to listen, take a few punches, and try to understand when the shoe is on the other foot. It's all part of the healing process. I hope Whites of today, my children included, will listen and learn from people who aren't afraid to express themselves, and be smart enough to filter those messages for the better of everyone. I am optimistic that we will get there—some day.

Sean M. said...

Bye the way, I should have mentioned my reason for posting here today was because I was on my way to work, listening to my favorite old-school country station on Pandora. You know, Willie, Hank, Waylon and then this song from DAC came on. After listening to it, and just thought "Wow! This ignorant trash needs to be flushed!" Then after I got to my desk, I thought, "No, it's good that they are still playing it, because it led me here."


Hard Luck Chuck said...

Hey Sean M. Are you serious?

"A right to express a little bit of backlash?"

"it's our turn to listen, take a few punches, and try to understand when the shoe is on the other foot. It's all part of the healing process."

Let me tell you a little story... My family consist of poor Irish immigrants who never wanted to own slaves and could never afford to even if they did. The other half were Native Americans(who also never owned slaves )... and they were forced to take a long fucking walk west never to come back. (although the descendants of the survivors did in '61 in a station wagon)

Do you see very many people getting in anyone's face about the "Trail of Tears"?

No, because that shit happened a long time ago, and everyone who was there is dead, and everyone who was responsible is dead.

Just because someone thinks that somehow my (or anyone's) long dead ancestors wronged their long dead ancestors doesn't mean I owe them a damn thing, and it doesn't give them any right to act like a dick to anyone in present time.

and if they do, sighting this as reason, I say call them on their bullshit instead of just sitting there and taking it.

Sorry, I don't think I'm going to be part of your "Healing Process" ...but good luck with that

have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

I believe in learning from the past not living in it.

David Ricci said...

For years, the drummer in Coe's band, was Kerry Brown. He is black and has said many times that Coe is not racist and a terrific guy.
If you don't like Coe's songs don't listen to them....

Jeremy Root said...

NWA didn't really exploit racism. Not a whole lot of rap really does. Misogyny for sure and disdain for racist police but not so much anti white. As for Malcolm X; he disavowed his racist views when he returned from Mecca and preached that all people ARE equal. But I wouldn't expect you to seek facts if you are a fan of old DAC songs.

Jeremy Root said...

Did you just claim that we are over being screwed by Trail of Tears etc? Maybe you Tsalagi are but not the rest of us. By the way, There were slaves walking the trail all the way from the Qualla Boundary to Oklahoma and not freed until the after the Civil War.

Jeremy Root said...

NWA didn't really exploit racism. Not a whole lot of rap really does. Misogyny for sure and disdain for racist police but not so much anti white. As for Malcolm X; he disavowed his racist views when he returned from Mecca and preached that all people ARE equal. But I wouldn't expect you to seek facts if you are a fan of old DAC songs.

Chris Turner said...

I truly believe that he didn't mean the songs for mass consumption and he doesn't truly mean the words of those two songs. Two songs out of a vast catalogue of music. He has made songs after that which did have pro racial messages. Song for the Year 2000 and the original version of his song Nothin to Lose. His second album also had very progressive racial messages. He has many friends who are African American. He sings songs by lots of African American writers. Hell he covers Purple Rain in a lot of his concerts. He was making albums for an audience, the biker crowd, where this humor was prevalent.

Dywrite said...

I'll leave the high-level discussion about racism, white privilege, and David Allen Coe to the folks above.
But I do have to comment on the owner of this blog's posting about his services.

White, undeservably privileged. Need copyediting?

Are YOU offering copy editing?
I may not be the queen of spelling and grammar, but I do know that undeservably is not a word.

Definition: not warranted, merited, or earned: an undeserved term of imprisonment
Spelling/Pronunciation: undeservedly |ˌəndəˈzərvədlēˌəndēˈzərvədlē| adverb

Jason Shepherd said...

Agreed! Denial is in the blood of bigots!

Jason Shepherd said...


Jason Shepherd said...


Jason Shepherd said...

Agreed! Denial is in the blood of bigots!

Gunther LeCroix said...

Doesn't any understand the expression "tounge in cheek"? DOC is no more a racist/sexist/homophobe for those songs than Mel Brooks is for creating Blazing Saddles. Both are making social commentary.