Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Holy Shit, Brown Sugar!

Brown Sugar

Continuing on the earlier rock star theme, I'd like to address a song this week. A Rolling Stones song, and a popular one, to boot. Brown Sugar. It's not what anyone would call innocuous, and it's pretty clear to anyone who pays rudimentary attention to the chorus that it's a racy kind of anthem. But it's more than that. So much more.
Mick Jagger is an asshole.
Come to think of it, nothing about this man is innocuous
When Mick Jagger wrote Brown Sugar, he was in the midst of a secret affair with fellow singer Marsha Hunt. Predictably, the song was written partially about her. The raciness that most people pick up on when casually listening tends to be the part where it refers to an interracial relationship.
Yes, that is Marsha Hunt. No, I'm not giving you a better picture.
But wait, there's more! When Mick Jagger decided to go taboo with a song, he went over the moon taboo. The song is about an interracial relationship, but the first verse is about a "relationship" in the very loosest definition of the term. In this case, one party's ownership of the other adds a very interesting dynamic to the situation.
Slave auction house
Yup. We're going there.
Because yeah, Brown Sugar is totally about a slave owner raping his possibly underage newly acquired slave. And I'm not joking at all. Just listen to the first verse of the song.

Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
Sold in a market down in New Orleans.
Scarred old slaver know he's doing alright.
Hear him whip the women just around midnight.
Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?
Brown sugar, just like a young girl should
Slave ship plans
So that happened.

That's the first verse. He just jumped right in with the slave rape, and that's the part that really baffles me. I know this song, and I've known it since I was a child. I saw it in a commercial long ago. I listened to it with my parents. I never had even a passing suspicion that Brown Sugar was about anything but poking fun at taboos and rocking pretty hard.

There's no greater testament to the caliber of song The Rolling Stones had on their hands with this one. They made a song so compelling, a hook so powerful, that they could rub the audience's faces in underage slave rape and none would be the wiser.

Holy shit.

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