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Editors' Introduction

Editors' Introduction Page 1 A pivotal scene in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? finds four Depression-era southerners — three white escaped convicts and an African American blues guitarist straight from the crossroads—barging through the door of WEZY, a crumbling radio station resting on a nondescript southern farm road. They have money in mind, and they have heard WEZY will pay cash to musicians willing to commit their songs to wax. The ruckus of their entry brings forth the station manager, a blind man who assures them that the rumors of payment were true. “You boys do nigger songs?” he barks. Flustered, but undeterred, the convicts lie, “Well, sir, we are Negroes, all except for the fellow that plays the guitar.” “Well, I don’t record nigger songs,” the manager retorts, “I’m looking for old-timey material. Folks can’t seem to get enough of it.” In an abrupt turn, the convicts reply that they can deliver the goods: “We ain’t really Negroes, all except for our accompanist.” They sing their song and get paid. Rife with stereotypes of southern working-class culture, the scene from O Brother nevertheless offers a useful parable of the relationship between the bearers http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Radical History Review Duke University Press

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by MARHO: The Radical Historians' Organization, Inc.
ISSN
0163-6545
eISSN
1534-1453
DOI
10.1215/01636545-2002-84-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 1 A pivotal scene in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? finds four Depression-era southerners — three white escaped convicts and an African American blues guitarist straight from the crossroads—barging through the door of WEZY, a crumbling radio station resting on a nondescript southern farm road. They have money in mind, and they have heard WEZY will pay cash to musicians willing to commit their songs to wax. The ruckus of their entry brings forth the station manager, a blind man who assures them that the rumors of payment were true. “You boys do nigger songs?” he barks. Flustered, but undeterred, the convicts lie, “Well, sir, we are Negroes, all except for the fellow that plays the guitar.” “Well, I don’t record nigger songs,” the manager retorts, “I’m looking for old-timey material. Folks can’t seem to get enough of it.” In an abrupt turn, the convicts reply that they can deliver the goods: “We ain’t really Negroes, all except for our accompanist.” They sing their song and get paid. Rife with stereotypes of southern working-class culture, the scene from O Brother nevertheless offers a useful parable of the relationship between the bearers

Journal

Radical History ReviewDuke University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2002

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