For such a controversial movie, Song of the South sure has managed to endear itself in the minds and hearts of many a Disney fan. From the fun animated characters to the catchy and memorable music, the many songs and stories of Uncle Remus lives on in this LP record despite the kerfuffle surrounding the source material. As long as you can find one online or in a Charity Shop, because Disney will never release it again!
So whether you are on Team Splash Mountain or Team Tiana Makeover, I hope you will enjoy this look back at a banjo playing rabbit and his supporting players:
I don’t think anyone has a problem with Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, or Br’er Fox, as these characters inhabited a place outside of the main setting of the film. So that we don’t have to bog down this post in the Brier Patch of Debate, please check out one or both of my previous posts on this subject. First, I have a brief post with links to a site by Floyd Norman, a Disney Legend with an authoritative view on the matter, and second I have a Book Review of Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South by Jim Korkis.
But this post is about a LP record with a book that was released in 1970 which shared three of the stories from Uncle Remus. And what did Uncle Remus said, er… say?
As you will see in the picture below, one of the stories contained on this LP record may trigger some readers, so you are duly warned:
Before we get to the Tar Baby story, the booklet insert starts us off in the world of Uncle Remus’ stories by sharing how Br’er Rabbit came to be out and about to begin with:
Now that Br’er Rabbit is on his way, we get to the second story. Encylopeida.com has this to say about the origins of the Tar Baby story: “Derived from West African folklore, the tar baby story had become a fundamental part of the African American oral tradition by the time Harris heard it while growing up on a Georgia plantation. In numerous forms it would exert a lasting effect on American culture generally.”
You can read the entire article by clicking the link. It does give everyone something to think about. But for better or worse, below you can read the Disney treatment of the troublesome tale:
The third tale is my favorite! Who doesn’t need a ‘Laughing Place’? If only I could remember all of the words to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah every doo-dah day! Maybe if we listen to a little song, we’ll all feel better some:
Johnny Lee did the vocals for Br’er Rabbit but was replaced for some of the dialogue and singing by James Baskett. So it’s possible that the Laughing Place song was sung by Baskett as Br’er Rabbit and Stewart as Br’er Bear.
And now let’s have a look at the Disney treatment for this ancient fable:
Br’er Rabbit always outwits his bigger and more powerful adversaries, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. If you clicked the Encylopedia.com link above, you read of the many ways to interpret these old stories. Can we leave them in the past and take them in whatever context they were meant then, or do we have a responsibility to reinterpret the narrative under the light of newer sensibilities? We may never see a satisfactory resolution to that conundrum.
Lightening up a bit, I do appreciate these LP record books for the stories and artwork. Often they do give a look into the window of the past, for good or bad, helping us to remember what was and perhaps helping us to see what must come to be.
Want to see more releases of this type? Just enter ‘LP’ in the ‘Search’ box on the Home Page of this site. We have shared many fun records over the years!