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.