Discussion:
OT -- today's Breihan article
(too old to reply)
Bob Roman
2019-04-11 17:30:26 UTC
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Any thoughts on this?

"One thing about 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown' that's rarely remarked-upon: It's never specified, but it seems pretty obvious that Leroy Brown is black. He's a stereotype, a slick Chicago gangster who chases women even when it's not wise and who turns out to not be as tough as he thinks. The song has a sort of boogie-woogie blues beat; it sounds like white guys trying to sound black. Croce sings in a clumsy imitation of black English: 'Now Leroy, he a gambler.' It's not that the song is racist, exactly. Standards were different in 1973, and there's certainly no hostility in the way Croce sings the song. But it's the sort of extended joke that would not go unexamined today."

Breihan gave it 3/10

--
BR
Bob Roman
2019-04-11 17:32:18 UTC
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From the same article:

"The writing is clear and evocative: 'Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.' And the song is catchy, to the point where it’s hard to stop it once it starts rattling around inside your mind. But it's also dumb and obvious and unpleasant."

--
BR
DianeE
2019-04-11 17:52:58 UTC
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Post by Bob Roman
Any thoughts on this?
"One thing about 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown' that's rarely remarked-upon: It's never specified, but it seems pretty obvious that Leroy Brown is black. He's a stereotype, a slick Chicago gangster who chases women even when it's not wise and who turns out to not be as tough as he thinks. The song has a sort of boogie-woogie blues beat; it sounds like white guys trying to sound black. Croce sings in a clumsy imitation of black English: 'Now Leroy, he a gambler.' It's not that the song is racist, exactly. Standards were different in 1973, and there's certainly no hostility in the way Croce sings the song. But it's the sort of extended joke that would not go unexamined today."
Breihan gave it 3/10
---------
My cat's name is Duchess, and someone recently told me that this was
also the name of the main character in the 1970 animated Disney movie
"The Aristocats." I was too old for Disney cartoons in 1970 and too
young to see them with my children, so I never saw "The Aristocats." I
watched a clip from it on youtube, a musical number called "Everybody
Wants To Be A Cat," and I was shocked to see a blatant racist
stereotype: a Siamese cat was given buck teeth and exaggerated slant
eyes and an accent seemingly copied from Buddy Hackett's Chinese waiter
sketch. I thought that kind of thing had been done away with by 1970
but I guess not.

I remember noticing that "Leroy he a gambler" line back in the 70s and
finding it embarrassingly....whatever the 1970s equivalent of
"tone-deaf" was. But then I never understood the big fuss about Jim
Croce. Not my kind of music. However, like Breihan, I also enjoyed
the jigsaw puzzle simile.
Dennis C
2019-04-11 18:19:49 UTC
Permalink
Thematically, it is the same song as "you Don't Mess around with Jim" which was his first hit on the previous album.

It was also the better record in my opinion if not as endearing and endyring.
Bill B
2019-04-11 19:07:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by DianeE
Post by Bob Roman
Any thoughts on this?
"One thing about 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown' that's rarely remarked-upon: It's never specified, but it seems pretty obvious that Leroy Brown is black. He's a stereotype, a slick Chicago gangster who chases women even when it's not wise and who turns out to not be as tough as he thinks. The song has a sort of boogie-woogie blues beat; it sounds like white guys trying to sound black. Croce sings in a clumsy imitation of black English: 'Now Leroy, he a gambler.' It's not that the song is racist, exactly. Standards were different in 1973, and there's certainly no hostility in the way Croce sings the song. But it's the sort of extended joke that would not go unexamined today."
Breihan gave it 3/10
---------
My cat's name is Duchess, and someone recently told me that this was
also the name of the main character in the 1970 animated Disney movie
"The Aristocats." I was too old for Disney cartoons in 1970 and too
young to see them with my children, so I never saw "The Aristocats." I
watched a clip from it on youtube, a musical number called "Everybody
Wants To Be A Cat," and I was shocked to see a blatant racist
stereotype: a Siamese cat was given buck teeth and exaggerated slant
eyes and an accent seemingly copied from Buddy Hackett's Chinese waiter
sketch. I thought that kind of thing had been done away with by 1970
but I guess not.
I remember noticing that "Leroy he a gambler" line back in the 70s and
finding it embarrassingly....whatever the 1970s equivalent of
"tone-deaf" was. But then I never understood the big fuss about Jim
Croce. Not my kind of music. However, like Breihan, I also enjoyed
the jigsaw puzzle simile.
I think he's making a mountain out of a molehill. I don't find it racist in any way. As Dennis points out, it's thematically the same as "You Don't Mess Around With Jim." You know, I can't recall if my mental image of Leroy Brown was of a black man. But I do recall thinking Jim Walker was white, and Croce uses the same lyrical form:
"Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come."

Not every song about a black guy (and this one probably is) with less than admirable qualities is a stereotype. It's just about a black guy with less than admirable qualities.

Back to Croce. I'm a big fan. He's the Chuck Berry of his generation, a R&R poet. I still recall an article I read where Glen Campbell cites his lyrics, including: "You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim" and my favorite from "Roller Derby Queen": "She was built like a fridgerator with a head." Jim Croce ruled. I still listen to his music more than that of most other artists. I give "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" nine out of ten.
DianeE
2019-04-11 19:50:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill B
Post by DianeE
Post by Bob Roman
Any thoughts on this?
"One thing about 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown' that's rarely remarked-upon: It's never specified, but it seems pretty obvious that Leroy Brown is black. He's a stereotype, a slick Chicago gangster who chases women even when it's not wise and who turns out to not be as tough as he thinks. The song has a sort of boogie-woogie blues beat; it sounds like white guys trying to sound black. Croce sings in a clumsy imitation of black English: 'Now Leroy, he a gambler.' It's not that the song is racist, exactly. Standards were different in 1973, and there's certainly no hostility in the way Croce sings the song. But it's the sort of extended joke that would not go unexamined today."
Breihan gave it 3/10
---------
My cat's name is Duchess, and someone recently told me that this was
also the name of the main character in the 1970 animated Disney movie
"The Aristocats." I was too old for Disney cartoons in 1970 and too
young to see them with my children, so I never saw "The Aristocats." I
watched a clip from it on youtube, a musical number called "Everybody
Wants To Be A Cat," and I was shocked to see a blatant racist
stereotype: a Siamese cat was given buck teeth and exaggerated slant
eyes and an accent seemingly copied from Buddy Hackett's Chinese waiter
sketch. I thought that kind of thing had been done away with by 1970
but I guess not.
I remember noticing that "Leroy he a gambler" line back in the 70s and
finding it embarrassingly....whatever the 1970s equivalent of
"tone-deaf" was. But then I never understood the big fuss about Jim
Croce. Not my kind of music. However, like Breihan, I also enjoyed
the jigsaw puzzle simile.
I think he's making a mountain out of a molehill. I don't find it racist in any way. As Dennis points out, it's thematically the same as "You Don't Mess Around With Jim."
----------
With roots that can be traced back to Don & Dewey's "Big Boy Pete."
(Agree that it's basically making a mountain out of a molehill, but
that's what we do here, isn't it?)
------------

You know, I can't recall if my mental image of Leroy Brown was of a
black man. But I do recall thinking Jim Walker was white, and Croce uses
Post by Bill B
"Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come."
----------
Leroy Brown, besides the name, was said to live on the south side of
Chicago, a well-known black neighborhood. I didn't know Croce sang "he
big" in the earlier song. If he did, I guess that changes things. But
I do remember thinking it was wrong-sounding in the Leroy Brown song.
-------------
Post by Bill B
Not every song about a black guy (and this one probably is) with less than admirable qualities is a stereotype. It's just about a black guy with less than admirable qualities.
-----------
I did *not* mean to say "Leroy" was a stereotype. I can see how you
would infer that after I told the story about the Asian stereotype in
the Disney movie, but I was really just making my usual point about how
we can't judge art from previous eras by today's standards.
---------------
Post by Bill B
Back to Croce. I'm a big fan. He's the Chuck Berry of his generation, a R&R poet. I still recall an article I read where Glen Campbell cites his lyrics, including: "You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim" and my favorite from "Roller Derby Queen": "She was built like a fridgerator with a head." Jim Croce ruled. I still listen to his music more than that of most other artists. I give "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" nine out of ten.
------------
Ah well. Around the same time, the Rolling Stones put out their most
acclaimed album, "Exile On Main Street." It too left me cold. I was
pretty much surviving on a musical diet of Soul Train and Linda Ronstadt.
Bill B
2019-04-11 20:52:09 UTC
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Post by DianeE
----------
With roots that can be traced back to Don & Dewey's "Big Boy Pete."
Just listened to "Big Boy Pete." It may have provided more than roots. Pete is vanquished by Bad Man Brown. one of them was from the north and one from the south. Think it was Leroy?
Mark Dintenfass
2019-04-11 22:23:12 UTC
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Post by Bill B
Back to Croce. I'm a big fan. He's the Chuck Berry of his generation, a R&R
poet. I still recall an article I read where Glen Campbell cites his lyrics,
including: "You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim"
He was, occasionally a very good songwriter, but mentioning him in the
same breath with Chuck Berry seems a little over the top.

As for the race issue, both Leroy and Jim both have always seemed to me
to be black (Slim comes up from the south for his revenge on Jim) and
it seemed okay to me back then. In fact, it still seems okay to me in
our overly touchy era because I'm sure Croce meant it as a tribute to
the racial line-erasing that was both the source and the promise of
r'n'r, though I can see why a younger generation, drowning in "woke"
sensitivity, might not get the point.
--
--md
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Bob Roman
2019-04-11 23:37:49 UTC
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Post by Mark Dintenfass
As for the race issue, both Leroy and Jim both have always seemed to me
to be black (Slim comes up from the south for his revenge on Jim) and
it seemed okay to me back then. In fact, it still seems okay to me in
our overly touchy era because I'm sure Croce meant it as a tribute to
the racial line-erasing that was both the source and the promise of
r'n'r, though I can see why a younger generation, drowning in "woke"
sensitivity, might not get the point.
To me it's not just incorrect, it's counterproductive. Breihan concedes that in neither the songwriting nor the performance does Croce come off as bigoted or hateful, but the simple fact that a) the protagonist is black and b) the song is humorous makes it all potentially problematic. At a time when real racism is on the rise -- shooting up mosques in New Zealand, marching in Virginia, sitting in the Oval Office -- it seems a mistake to be condemning not-bigots for not being not not-bigots enough.

--
BR
Dennis C
2019-04-11 23:42:54 UTC
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That's a lampoon, right Robert?

If not, you have become a moralistic pretzel, baby!!
Mark Dintenfass
2019-04-12 00:28:39 UTC
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Post by Bob Roman
Post by Mark Dintenfass
As for the race issue, both Leroy and Jim both have always seemed to me
to be black (Slim comes up from the south for his revenge on Jim) and
it seemed okay to me back then. In fact, it still seems okay to me in
our overly touchy era because I'm sure Croce meant it as a tribute to
the racial line-erasing that was both the source and the promise of
r'n'r, though I can see why a younger generation, drowning in "woke"
sensitivity, might not get the point.
To me it's not just incorrect, it's counterproductive. Breihan concedes that
in neither the songwriting nor the performance does Croce come off as bigoted
or hateful, but the simple fact that a) the protagonist is black and b) the
song is humorous makes it all potentially problematic. At a time when real
racism is on the rise -- shooting up mosques in New Zealand, marching in
Virginia, sitting in the Oval Office -- it seems a mistake to be condemning
not-bigots for not being not not-bigots enough.
I absolutely agree. It's just like people who aren't sexual predators
getting hammered for innocent gestures that "woke" women now have
decided are predatory. Politically, it paralyzes us in finding ways to
deal with the real racists and predators who are, of course, not just
with us but more present than they ought to be.
--
--md
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Dean F.
2019-04-12 05:56:59 UTC
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To me it's not just incorrect, it's counterproductive. Breihan concedes that in neither the songwriting nor the performance does Croce come off as bigoted or hateful, but the simple fact that a) the protagonist is black and b) the song is humorous makes it all potentially problematic. At a time when real racism is on the rise -- shooting up mosques in New Zealand, marching in Virginia, sitting in the Oval Office -- it seems a mistake to be condemning not-bigots for not being not not-bigots enough. >>
Just imagine Breihan's moral outrage if he heard a Louis Jordan song like "What the Use of Getting Sober," "Ain't That Just Like a Woman," "Pettin' and Pokin'," "Stone Cold Dead in the Market," "Open the Door, Richard," or "Saturday Night Fish Fry" (among others).
Bill B
2019-04-12 10:16:49 UTC
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Post by Mark Dintenfass
He was, occasionally a very good songwriter, but mentioning him in the
same breath with Chuck Berry seems a little over the top.
Granted. I got too enthusiastic.
Post by Mark Dintenfass
As for the race issue, both Leroy and Jim both have always seemed to me
to be black (Slim comes up from the south for his revenge on Jim)
Maybe my perception of Jim being white was shaped by the fact that I used to shoot pool on Eighth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets and I remember an all white clientele.
SavoyBG
2019-04-11 23:52:15 UTC
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Post by Bill B
Back to Croce. I'm a big fan. He's the Chuck Berry of his generation,
Easy.
DianeE
2019-04-12 10:53:34 UTC
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Post by Bill B
Back to Croce. I'm a big fan. He's the Chuck Berry of his generation,
Easy.
-------
But wrong. You can't dance to a Jim Croce record.

Dean F.
2019-04-12 04:35:51 UTC
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Unlike most of the music discussed here, I've been familiar with "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" since it was new. Not once in 46 years did the issue of race enter my mind when I heard it.

I will now state the obvious: Breihan's an asshole. I can just hear him screaming that Joe Biden's a creepy old pervert while claiming Julian Assange, who's wanted in Sweden on a rape charge, is a hero.
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