- BROTHER LOUIE by Stories. I decided to start slightly silly with some funky 70's bubblegum fluff. Now this is a totally outrageous, kitschy song that still deals with a white man falling in love with a black woman. This first verse is pure 70's: "She was black as the night/Louie was whiter than white/Danger, danger when you taste brown sugar/Louie fell in love overnight." Talk about songwriting with all the subtlety of being bludgeoned with a pet rock, they also manage a sideways reference to a Rolling Stones song about an interracial couple (and no I'm not choosing BROWN SUGAR for my five songs -- that would be TOO obvious). But even in all this bell-bottom bluster, some serious trouble raises its ugly head: "When he took her home/To meet his mama and papa/Louie knew just where he stood." Uh oh. This doesn't look good.
- SOCIETY'S CHILD by Janis Ian. Here we have a much more serious song concerning a white woman loving a black man. This song is full of "smirking stares" and taunts of "why don't you stick with your own kind." She even gets grief from her mother: "Now I could understand your tears and your shame/She called you "boy" instead of your name/When she wouldn't let you inside/When she turned and said"But honey, he's not our kind." Sadly, because the narrator of the song is just "Society's Child" and subject to the pressures of those around her, she tells him she can't see him anymore. But she also offers some hope with the line: "One of these days I'm gonna stop my listening/Gonna raise my head up high/One of these days I'm gonna raise up my glistening wings and fly/But that day will have to wait for a while/Baby I'm only society's child/When we're older things may change/But for now this is the way they must remain." The version of the song I have is a live version and not the "jingly jangly" original version.
- CHINA GIRL by David Bowie. Oh baby, just you shut your mouth. This time we have an English guy falling for a Chinese woman. At first everything seems hunky dory (yes, that was deliberate) as things seem to be great between them. He's a mess without his little China Girl. However, storm clouds creep into the song and things seem to get a little threatening: "My little China Girl/You shouldn't mess with me/I'll ruin everything you are." However, the woman always seems able to silence him with an "Oh baby, just you shut your mouth."
- POOR BOY by Split Enz. Here we go even farther afield as we find a love song between an Earth man and an Alien woman. "My love is alien/I picked her up by chance/she speaks to me with ultra-high frequency." What could be more "interracial" than a romance between a member of the human race and an alien race? My favourite line in the song is when Tim Finn croons: "You're looking at an interplanetary Romeo!"
- FISH & BIRD by Tom Waits. Interspecies romance??? You got it. I told you I wasn't going to keep to the obvious for long. The exact line in the song sums it all up: "A song of a little bird that fell in love with a whale." This has got to have some of the sweetest lyrics of any love song. I'm sorry but you'll have to indulge me -- "He said, 'You cannot live in the ocean'/And she said to him 'You never can live in the sky'/But the ocean is filled with tears/And the sea turns into a mirror/There's a whale in the moon when it's clear/And a bird on the tide/Please don't cry/Let me dry your eyes/So tell me that you will wait for me/Hold me in your arms/I promise we never will part/I'll never sail back to the time/But I'll always pretend you're mine/Though I know that we both must part/You can live in my heart." This is from Tom Wait's superb album ALICE. Thanks, Ilsa*
And there you have it. My first instinct was I couldn't come up with anything but I was soon proven wrong. Thanks again to Sweet Cheeks for the great suggestion. And join us once again next time when we look at The Five Songs.