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MMD > Archives > July 1998 > 1998.07.24 > 12Prev  Next

Politically Incorrect Piano Rolls
By Mike Walter

Hi friends,  D. L. Bullock mentioned yesterday about the appearance of
"Politically Incorrect Piano Rolls" and wondered what others thought
about their appearance on the scene in the early 1900s.

It was approximately 30 years earlier when African-Americans were first
given the right to vote, & 35 years earlier when the majority of them
were still slaves.  If looking at the situation from an historical
perspective, the majority of music publishers probably didn't care one
way or another about the nationality or ethnic origin of a group.  They
were probably more interested in the bottom line.

Most African-Americans were too poor to own a player piano.  If they
did have enough money to purchase a player, they would have probably
opted for their own ethnically oriented music (James P. Johnson, Scott
Joplin, et al.) to listen to.  The same would hold true for the Polish,
Italians, Greeks, or other ethnic group.  But on the whole, I do
believe that most music publishers and song writers did have a

Songs such as "Mama's Little Coal Black Rose" and "Mississippi Mud" do
not have really offensive lyrics.  There's only one song that I know of
that has anything that could be construed as promoting violence toward
a minority.  That roll is the "Ku Klux Steppin' Blues" and has a
picture of a man in white regalia, on a horse, with a circle of crosses
around the outside edge.  The roll is sung by a couple of men who
happen to "run into" groups of gentlemen on horses late at night, and
are urged to leave the area!  The roll label is "Windles Special Roll"
and is produced by Harry F. Windle of Kansas City, MO !  Does anyone
have any information on this illustrious gentleman?

I really think that our society, as a whole, is becoming more sensitive
to ethnic diversity, which is a good thing.  What was produced in the
past was not necessarily produced out of malice, but more likely,

Any thoughts?

Mike Walter

(Message sent Fri 24 Jul 1998, 02:39:36 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Incorrect, Piano, Politically, Rolls

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